• Mavs maintaining simple playoff focus

  • Charlie Effinger is taking a simple approach to the Turner Conference Finals best-of-seven playoff series, which begins at 7:05 p.m. tonight in Fort Wayne, Ind.

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  • Charlie Effinger is taking a simple approach to the Turner Conference Finals best-of-seven playoff series, which begins at 7:05 p.m. tonight in Fort Wayne, Ind.
    “You take it one game at a time, until you get four wins,” said Effinger, the starting goaltender who is 4-0 with a 1.43 goals-against average in postseason play.
    “If we win 1-0, great. If we win 9-8, who cares, it’s a win. If the veteran guys score, and we win, great. If we get a lot of goals from the younger guys and win, we’ll take that, too. We have to stay focused, and we were able to get more focused after we found out Fort Wayne won its (semifinal) series against Rapid City.
    “We know who we’re playing, we’re back on a daily routine and we’re fired up and ready to rock ’n’ roll.”
    The Mavericks and Komets were 1-1 against each other this season, with both starting playoff goalies sporting 1-0-0 records.
    Effinger was 1-0-0 with a 2.77 goals-against average and .936 save percentage while Fort Wayne’s Wayne’s Nick Boucher was also 1-0-0 with a 2.00 GAA and .933 save percentage.
    Scoring first will be very important to both teams as Fort Wayne is 4-1-0 in the playoffs when scoring first and the Mavericks are 3-0-0 after their four-game playoff sweep of Evansville.
    “Fort Wayne is the top seed in the playoffs, and we have a great deal of respect for them,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said. “We’ve played 66 (regular season) games this season to get to the playoffs.
    “We did very well in the first round, and now we have to regain our competitive edge and focus after being off for a week or so (because of the Mavs sweep and Fort Wayne’s series going six games). It’s so big that we find a way to steal one on the road, because with the 2-3-2 (playoff) format, if we win one on the road, that takes away their home-ice advantage, and that’s huge.”
    While all the Mavericks are pumped up about reaching the Turner Conference championship round, one veteran feels like a kid in a candy store as he prepares for tonight’s game.
    “I’m champing at the bit – we’re all champing at the bit,” said veteran forward Ryan Jardine, who has made an impact on the team since returning from an injury the last week of the regular season. “These are the games you live for. Hilly has us ready to go. We only played Fort Wayne twice, and Hilly has been working overtime to make sure we know everything there is to know about them before the series starts.”
    While the Komets were battling for their playoff lives against Rapid City, Hillman gave the Mavericks four days off from practice because there was no ice at the Independence Events Center because of a youth wrestling tournament.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We just need one shift Friday night – to hit someone, or to get hit – to get back in the flow of things,” rookie forward John-Scott Dickson said. “We’ve been off, and they were playing while we were off, but these games are too big to lose focus or our competitive edge.
    “Coach has been making practices very competitive, and even though you can’t really create a game situation at a practice, we’ve been flying around and working hard. Our practices have been pretty intense – you couldn’t tell we’d been off the ice for a week.”
    The first two games of the series are at Fort Wayne, at 7 tonight and 7 p.m. Saturday. The series moves to the Events Center at 7:05 p.m. next Wednesday and Thursday and Saturday if necessary.
    Tickets for all Mavericks home playoff games are on sale at the Independence Events Center box office and at www.ticketmaster.com.

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