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Evansville at Komets
Face-off: 8 p.m. Friday
Radio: WOWO, 1190-AM
After looking like they took most of Saturday night's game off, the Komets also took Sunday and today off.
Sure, that's a cheap shot after the 6-2 loss to Kalamazoo, but that's the kind of gallows humor the players were showing in the locker room. It's a long season, and they needed something to break the mood and relax a bit.
Besides a laugh, the Komets could use a few extra bodies. During Friday night's home game against Evansville, Eric Giosa, Ryan Hegarty, Marco Cousineau, Chris Auger and Matt Kennedy were all sitting in the press box. Auger is having reconstructive knee surgery on Thursday, and none of the other four are expected back any sooner than three weeks from now.
Giosa was hoping to get back this week, but now his once-thought to be sprained ankle has a stress fracture. If the NHL lockout ends somehow this week, the Komets could be scrambling to find players, but there will be tons of them looking for work.
``I think we're a tired hockey team,'' Komets coach Al Sims said. ``We've been playing with nine forwards for a while now and the injuries are catching up to us. We were due to have a game like this.''
The real news isn't the five guys who are sitting out, but the other five guys in the locker room who should be sitting in the training room if there was anyone else to take their place. Brett Smith got hit with a shot in the back of the leg Friday, Kaleigh Schrock hasn't been able to eat after having four wisdom teeth removed (but still fought Friday night) and a few other players are obviously struggling with unannounced leg injuries.
And on Sunday things got worse when defenseman Nick Schaus was recalled to Norfolk of the American Hockey League.
Everyone who plays hockey is usually hurt, but only the injured players miss games. There's a difference between the two conditions.
``It's part of being a professional hockey player,'' Komets captain Colin Chaulk said. ``You have to learn how to play through these things. When you aren't 100 percent, you have to play smart, and when you are you have to make the most of it. Most times guys are playing through bumps and bruises in a long season.''
And going through stretches like this is how young players learn to persevere. Natural defenseman Colten Hayes has played more at forward the last two weeks. Rookie forward Matt Firman has played a regular shift with every forward line.
Until Saturday night, everyone who had to move up the pairings had played well, and the veterans were leading the team to five-straight wins, mostly on the road. The players' legs quit moving against the Wings, who were also looking to come back after a 5-1 home loss to South Carolina on Friday night.
The Komets just had to take the uppercut on the chin and get through the game before getting a few days to gather their energy. They'll start Tuesday preparing for home games Friday against Toledo and Saturday against Evansville. Better believe Sims won't find too much humorous about practice this week, though.
``You just have to deal with it,'' Chaulk said. ``The people who are able to think clearly when they get squeezed or they are tired are the better players at all levels of all sports. Everyone can make great decisions when they are healthy and fresh and strong. Try and think clearly when you haven't slept very much, when you are banged up and sore, when you are under pressure. That makes the difference between a good player and an average player.''
Every squad goes through stretches of injuries or the flu four or five times a season. The good teams endure and make themselves better because of it.