The worst thing that could happen to the Fort Wayne Komets is if they think this weekend's games against Quad City are going to be as lopsided as last weekend's games against the Mallards.
"You can't look at these last two games and think that is going to be the type of team that is going to show up here Friday," Komets coach Gary Graham said. "You start thinking that, you're already behind the eight ball."
Games 1 and 2 start in Fort Wayne before the series moves to Moline, Ill., for the next three games starting Wednesday.
The Komets were 8-4 against the Mallards during the regular season, but Quad City was 3-2 over the last five games, mostly due to goaltender C.J. Motte who won three one-goal games against Fort Wayne. He was 3-3-0 against the Komets despite having a very respectable 2.94 goals against average and .913 save percentage versus the Komets. He gives the Mallards a chance at an upset in the series.
Both Garrett Bartus and Pat Nagle were exceptional in the Fort Wayne nets this season against the Mallards. Bartus was 3-0-0 with a 2.00 goals against average and .930 save percentage, and Nagle was 3-0-2 with a 1.94 goals against average and .926 save percentage.
The Mallards have actually been a much more formidable team since they made a coaching chance on Jan. 20, promoting third-year assistant Phil Axtell, 30, to replace Terry Ruskowski. After losing seven of eight games before the change, Quad City finished the regular season 21-12-2 under Axtell, while the Komets are 26-8-4 since Jan. 20.
"I just approached practices and games a little bit different," Axtell said. "I tried putting guys together that complimented each other and stayed positive. You can't win every game. We got a gameplan and made sure everyone knew what was expected of them. I tried to hold guys accountable and execute. It was good to see the guys rally around for one another and start to play the way they can."
Justin Kovacs has been Quad City's most consistent offensive player over the last 16 games with eight goals and 24 points.
The Mallards were creamed by injuries at the end of the regular season with forwards Alex Petan, Brady Bassart, Grant Arnold and Adam Gilmour all on injured reserve. Chris Leibinger, a defenseman, played center the last few games. Quad City won't be getting any players back from the American Hockey League.
"I think we have a little bit of everything, a lot of depth," Axtell said. "We're banged up right now, and that happens."
For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at @blakesebring, at his blog tailingthekomets.com and on Facebook at Blake Sebring.