With 15 games left, including 10 at home, the Fort Wayne Komets need a major charge to clinch a playoff spot.
It's obvious from their 9-8-9 Memorial Coliseum record that the Komets have a mental problem about winning at home. Regularly attending fan can tell you the crowd goes into the third period wishing it was already over.
Some things can only be explained through the statistics, and some of these numbers are startling.
* It starts at the beginning. When leading after one period at home, the Komets are 4-1-5, and after two periods they are 7-1-6. Trailing after one period they are 0-3-0 and after two they are 0-6-0.
* Despite having eight more power-play opportunities at home, the Komets have scored only 10 goals with the man advantage and have the ECHL's worst rating at 9.9 percent. They are 15.8 percent effective on the road. Opponents have scored only 12 power-play goals against at home and 28 overall because the Komets' penalty kill is outstanding.
* Sorry, goaltenders, but you might want to skip this part.
Opposing goaltenders are stopping 91.9 percent of the shots against them in Memorial Coliseum compared with 89.7 percent for Komets goaltenders. The Komets have been outscored 33-23 in the third period of home games, as opposing netminders are stopping 91.3 percent of the shots against them in the last period compared with just 87.9 for the Komets.
Opponents have attempted 109 more shots than the Komets during the third period. Please remember that stat.
Ben Meisner has been a godsend and is 9-1-0 away from Memorial Coliseum with a .943 save percentage and 1.95 goals-against average, but he's 1-3-2 at home with a .882 save percentage and 3.35 goals-against average.
Andrey Makarov is 9-7-0 on the road with a .908 save percentage and 2.65 goals-against average; at home he's 5-4-5 with a .904 save percentage and 3.02 goals-against average.
So here are the key numbers for the goaltending: The Komets are giving up 2.70 goals per game on the road, stopping 91 percent of the shots against them. At home, they are giving up 3.19 goals per game, stopping 89.7 percent of the shots against them.
Those numbers were even more dramatic before the Komets gave up eight goals on 48 shots in two games at Kalamazoo.
What's really crazy about those last numbers? The Komets are giving up just one shot more per game at home than on the road.
* The Komets are scoring 2.88 goals at home and 2.87 on the road. They rank 13th among ECHL teams in scoring.
* Looking at the individual skaters, Brandon Marino is slightly better at home with 38 points compared with 34 on the road. Chris Auger is about equal home and road, as is Scott Fleming. Kaleigh Schrock has significantly better numbers at home with a minus-1 rating compared with minus-9 on the road. Simon Danis-Pepin is also better at home with a plus-7 rating and a plus-2 on the road. Jordon Southorn is also better at home, according to the numbers.
Rookie defensemen William Lacasse and Joe Hartman are slightly better on the road, according to the stats.
Some players are much better on the road, according to the numbers. Defenseman Jace Coyle has scored 12 of his 30 points and is minus-8 at the coliseum. Forward Mike Embach has scored only six of his 25 points as a Komet at home where he's minus-5.
* What does all this mean? The forwards aren't blameless, especially on the power play and they way they have struggled all year to score more goals, but the goaltender numbers have to improve dramatically if the Komets are going to be any kind of a playoff threat.
This team has proven it can't outscore teams so it must win with tight defense and solid goaltending.
Simply looking at the numbers, it may be that the forwards and defensemen play much less aggressively offensively at home because they don't trust their goaltenders to stop the puck consistently. That could also be why the trends seem to shift against the Komets the closer and later the game gets. Remember those 109 extra shots and 10 extra goals against in the third period?
The big picture is that everyone has to improve their play at home or that's where the Komets will be when the playoffs start.