Final Regular Season Records:
Fort Wayne Komets: 45-19-6-2 (98 points, 2nd in Division and 4th in Western Conference)
Quad City Mallards: 40-28-2-2 (84 points, 3rd in Division and 6th in Western Conference)
Series Schedule: (Home Team in BOLD CAPS and all times local):
Game 1 – Friday, April 14 – Quad City at FORT WAYNE 8:00 pm ET
Game 2 – Saturday, April 15 – Quad City at FORT WAYNE 7:30 pm ET
Game 3 – Wednesday, April 19 – Fort Wayne at QUAD CITY 6:30 CT
Game 4 – Friday, April 21 – Fort Wayne at QUAD CITY 7 pm CT
*Game 5 – Saturday, April 22 – Fort Wayne at QUAD CITY 7:00 pm CT
*Game 6 – Monday, April 24 Quad City at FORT WAYNE 6:30 pm ET
*Game 7 – Wednesday, April 26 – Quad City at FORT WAYNE 6:30 pm ET
*=> If Necessary
Season Series Recap:
The two teams met a total of 12 times throughout the season, both opening weekend and closing weekend having a home-and-home series. The Komets took all four of those games, plus four others throughout the season to go 8-4 against the Mallards. Since the coaching change from Terry Ruskowski to Phil Axtell, the Mallards had begun to turn the season-long series around and had won the previous three games, but dropped their final two games. The last two games were not close contests. The last game at the iWireless Center was a resounding 5-2 victory for the Komets, while Saturday’s result in Indiana was 6-1 for the home team.
How Fort Wayne Wins:
The Komets have done great against the Mallards this season, even without looking at the last two inconsequential games. What Fort Wayne needs to do is continue the systems they’ve been using so far. They’ve worked well through the season, and a team shouldn’t fix something that’s not broken. They also need to keep their key players healthy. Since the Mallards aren’t the most physical of teams compared to some others in the league, it shouldn’t be terribly difficult.
The number one way for the Komets to beat the Mallards is to get the early lead. The Mallards have been dicey when it comes to comebacks, sometimes finding their mojo to score often in later periods but often falling short after admitting what appears to be an early defeat.
How Quad City Wins:
The Mallards need to play a full 60 minutes. Recently, they have had trouble in the first period, and then began a comeback in the second, but that won’t work in the playoffs against Fort Wayne. Sometimes a team can get a really good ten minutes and win the game, but that isn’t the mindset a team should have.
Part of that playing a full 60 minutes would include getting more shots on goal. Quad City only had five shots in the first period on Saturday. On Friday, Garrett Bartus faced only 11 shots in the opening frame, compared to C.J. Motte’s 21; you can’t win a hockey game with a low shot count. Sitting back on the heels doesn’t win games either. The Mallards are the best in the league for winning one-goal games, so they need to keep the Komets within one goal.
The Mallards also need to keep their guys healthy. Several key players had sat out the past few games, such as Grant Arnold and Alex Petan. Whether they and the other scratches from Friday and Saturday had injuries or were being rested isn’t known, but they will be needed playoff series victory.