With the regular season now complete in the Elite League, attention switches to the play-off quarter finals this weekend.
We take a look at how the teams fared against each other during the 2016/17 league campaign and predict who will reach the final four weekend at Nottingham.
Cardiff Devils v Manchester Storm (Devils W3 L1 – aggregate 14-10)
With three trophies already in the bag, the Devils are undoubtedly the best team in the league. However, their four meetings with Storm have all been close affairs, so the Altrincham-based side will believe they can cause an upset.
While there has been plenty of talk about Storm’s progression, they won less games this year than in their first season in the league and they appear to have benefited from Coventry Blaze going backwards.
Storm will give it a good go, but it’s the Devils who should progress from this tie.
Braehead Clan v Dundee Stars (Clan W4 L4 – aggregate 29-26)
Ryan Finnerty’s team have been inconsistent this term, but a strong showing in the play-offs could ease the pain of what has been a frustrating campaign.
The Stars finished the regular season strongly with seven wins from their last 11 games and they’ve shown they’re capable of beating the Clan both home and away.
This one could go either way, but we fancy Clan to just edge through.
Belfast Giants v Fife Flyers (Giants W2 L2 – aggregate 18-14)
The Giants had the upper hand in Belfast this term, but with the Flyers winning both meetings in Kirkcaldy this is another difficult one to call.
If the Flyers can stay in touch after the first leg they are capable of going through, although the Giants will be desperate for a trophy after seeing the Devils mop up everything else.
The Giants should qualify, but expect the Flyers to run them close.
Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers (Steelers W5 L3 – aggregate 34-21)
Having finished 15 points ahead of the Panthers during the regular season, the Steelers are favourites to reach the final four.
Despite winning the Continental Cup, the Panthers’ have been a huge disappointment in the league but their record in knock-out competitions under Corey Neilson is worth noting.
With that in mind, don’t be surprised to see the Panthers turn over their big rivals.
(Image permission: Karl Denham)