The Komets are 0-1-2 and there may be no better place to change their luck than Las Vegas, where they play Friday, Saturday and Sunday against the Wranglers, who were 2-3-0 heading into Tuesday night.
It’s obviously a fun trip, said defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin, who made two trips there last season while playing for San Francisco. But you have to make it business as usual. You can’t look at the city and think you’re going there for fun. We’re going there for work. We’ve got three games to play and three games to win. So we’ve got to remain focused.
Good luck keeping the players totally away from the casinos, though. There’s already been talk of trips to the roulette and craps tables.
The Komets certainly have players who would fit in with various Vegas roles.
One of the few bright spots of the season has been forward Scott Fleming, who has shown the ability to deal the puck to his teammates. In Saturday’s 5-4 loss to Cincinnati in an overtime shootout, his pass from behind the net to Tristan King for a goal was a thing of beauty, and Fleming has been the most consistent player on faceoffs.
He’s playing unreal, coach Gary Graham said. He’s been consistently our best faceoff guy. He wins his one-on-one battles and reminds me of (Pavel) Datsyuk because he pickpockets guys on the ice.
Honorable mention: Mickey Lang, whose speed leads to great assists.
Mr. “All In”
Any good poker player has to have the guts to move all his chips onto the table, and Brandon Marino has that kind of moxie. Last season, he had 20 goals in 71 games. And he’s aggressive; he led the team with 205 shots on goal.
This season, he’s scored twice on six shots.
Honorable mention: John Dunbar, who scored on 11.9 percent of his shots last season.
The Pit Boss
Like the guy in a suit hovering over the craps table, you don’t want to mess with the Komets’ Nick Tuzzolino. He’ll use his size – 6-foot-5, 225 pounds – to intimidate. Last season, he had 160 penalty minutes in 44 games with Utah. This season, he’s got 13 minutes.
He’s the boss of the locker room as Fort Wayne’s captain.
Honorable mention: Simon Danis-Pepin, who is 6-7, 240 pounds, and not afraid to use it.
The Card Counter
He works for Northwestern Mutual as a financial representative – exhibiting a talent with numbers – and Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock is organized. Just ask him about his fantasy sports teams, or how he tabulates statistics of pingpong games or Words with Friends and measures future success. He probably would try to count the cards in an eight-deck blackjack game.
Honorable mention: Cody Reichard, the goaltender thinks the game by cutting down angles and memorizing shooter tendencies.
The Eye in the Sky
In Vegas, there is always somebody watching. Same with the Komets. Normally, Bob Chase mans the microphone – he’s been doing it for 61 years – but to give him a break, Shane Albahrani will call the games this weekend for WOWO.
Honorable mention: Tommy Schoegler will do play-by-play on these games, televised on MyTV Fort Wayne.