Elite League preview: Giants on a recovery mission

Belfast Giants’ Player/Coach Derrick Walser wants his team to redeem themselves following last weekend’s double defeat against Cardiff Devils.

The Giants host Fife Flyers on Saturday before visiting Nottingham Panthers the following day and go into the weekend seven points behind the Devils with nine games to play.

“We ran into the best team in the league in Cardiff who played really well,” said Walser.

“We had opportunities to win both games – we made some critical mistakes but we are looking at how we can fix those and how can come back from that.

“It’s not easy when you’ve had a tough weekend like we just had. We’ve had a great year until now – our record speaks for itself.

“We had a little bump in the road. It’s not over but right now we need to fix a few issues and get back to winning ways.

“Right now we are being positive and looking to get back on track. We want to come out, play our game again and make sure we are firing on all cylinders.

“I want us to redeem ourselves and play the right way – a much tougher and grittier game.”

Sheffield Steelers’ boss Paul Thompson has cranked up the pressure on Cardiff, saying it would “absolutely catastrophic” for the Devils if they didn’t win the Elite League title.

Wednesday’s 5-2 victory over Edinburgh Capitals moved the Steelers six points behind the Devils and Thompson believes his team can still catch the leaders.

“It’s great for us to get back to that second spot, but Cardiff are very much still in the driving seat,” he told the Yorkshire Post.

“If they were to lose the league now it would be catastrophic, absolutely catastrophic, and we’ve just got to keep putting the pressure on.

“We’ve got to play them twice at ours and they’ve also got to play Belfast twice, so who knows what can happen in these next few weeks.”

Fife Head Coach Todd Dutiaume has hit back at criticism of his team following their recent run of poor form.

A run of just two wins in ten games has seen the Flyers drop to sixth in the table, but Dutiaume believes there are mitigating circumstances to take into consideration.

“I don’t want to come across as making excuses, but one of the valid reasons we’ve struggled all year is the amount of injuries we’ve had,” he told Fife Today.

“Other teams have had injuries, but not as much as us. Part of not having that depth is I start overplaying guys – they’re exhausted, and it’s caught up with a number of them.

“It’s very difficult to maintain that level of intensity when you’ve been putting your all into a full season.

“I know I’m an easy target, and that comes with my job, but we know what we’ve accomplished here.

“We’ve been up in third and fourth place for much of the year, and to get picked off because of a number of circumstances, it doesn’t make you a bad team, or a bad coach.

“It’s just a run of form, and there’s contributing factors to that.

“People are understandably unhappy and venting frustration, but we’re focusing on keeping a positive atmosphere in the room.

“We want to finish off these final nine games with solid performances and we’re more than capable of putting it together.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday

Belfast Giants v Fife Flyers
Braehead Clan v Dundee Stars
Cardiff Devils v Coventry Blaze
Manchester Storm v Edinburgh Capitals
Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers

Sunday

Coventry Blaze v Manchester Storm
Edinburgh Capitals v Cardiff Devils
Fife Flyers v Sheffield Steelers
Nottingham Panthers v Belfast Giants

(Image permission: Press Eye)

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