If Friday night's game is any indication, Fort Wayne meeting Quad-City in the first round of the playoffs could be quite the series.
The game Friday was fast, physical, hard-hitting and one of the best games I've seen here in some time. It was a matchup between two playoff-bound teams.
Early it didn't look like the Mallards were going to be able to hang with the Komets. A few players mentioned how they hadn't seen a team like Fort Wayne in a few weeks, and it definitely took some time go ramp up their play. Fort Wayne was all over the Mallards in the first 10 minutes, but C.J. Motte played maybe his best home game of the second half of the season, keeping the Mallards in the game early.
As the game wore on, the Mallards found their footing, and started to match the intensity the rest of the way.
Fort Wayne will be a very tough out in the playoffs. But the Mallards showed Friday night they won't be a slouch either. They answered everything the Komets threw at them, rallied back from every deficit, and through hard work in overtime, won the game.
If this is the first round playoff matchup, April 12 can't get here fast enough. The fans added to the atmosphere, they were about as loud as I've heard them this year, and with the proximity and history between the two franchises, all games could be packed with loud, rowdy fans.
It's also been a competitive series this year, even though Fort Wayne rolled early, the Mallards have now won three straight against the Komets, and the teams on the ice Friday looked very evenly matched besides the first 10 minutes.
There's still flaws on this team, mainly the power play. The Mallards' biggest flaw, possibly their Achilles' heel is the power play, which ranks second-to-last in the league. It's not always a deciding factor, but in the playoffs, the team needs to take advantage when the opponent heads to the box.
However, this team has shown the resiliency to battle through a lot of adversity this year. A long losing streak, a coaching change, injuries, call-ups, any one of those things could have derailed the team and instead, the players have rallied, and the team appears to be playing its best hockey at the right time.
It's a long season, full of ups and downs, but the Mallards right now look to be raising their game at the right time. There's still a lot to sort out, including playoff seeding, but every team in the Central Division looks capable of making a run, and that should make for some very entertaining hockey in April and May.