Elite League weekend preview

Cardiff Devils face a tough batch of fixtures as they look to maintain their hold on top spot in the Elite League.

The Welsh side, who hold a three-point lead over the chasing pack, start a run of six games in twelve days at second-placed Nottingham Panthers on Saturday.

Player/Coach Andrew Lord said he pays little attention to the current standings.

“I rarely look at the league table and haven’t seen one for between 10 days to a fortnight,” said Lord. “I’ve been told we are top, but I have no idea where the other teams are.

“Our focus is on Nottingham this Saturday and once that’s over we’ll concentrate on Braehead at home on Sunday.

“We learned lessons last season when we seemed burned out after winning the Challenge Cup. We have to keep using our bench to the full, giving guys enough rest and making travel as easy as possible.

“Rest and recovery are crucial and we have to make sure we don’t over-coach down the stretch. We’ve done a ton of coaching and the guys know what is needed.”

Sheffield Steelers travel to Braehead on Saturday, before returning to home ice to face Coventry Blaze the following day.

Six wins from their last seven games has put Sheffield firmly in the title race and Assistant Coach Darrell says a change in style has been the trigger for their improved form.

“We have gone back to Steelerhockey,” Hay said. “We’ve been playing very selfless, working for the guy beside you, instead of trying to do things on our own. I think you are seeing the benefits of it.

“We’ve blocked more shots, been in more lanes, been more physical and been able to outwork teams in crucial defensive areas.

“It comes down to grit and battle level, it comes down to how bad do you want it? We wanted it more than we did last month when we were taking short-cuts instead of getting in there with our body and getting our noses dirty.

“Now we are engaged more, nose-to-nose more in battles and doing it as a group. It’s not just one guy, it’s all 18 guys out there.”

Fife Flyers face an important weekend for their Gardiner Conference title hopes with two games against their divisional rivals.

Manchester Storm are the visitors on Saturday, before Todd Dutiaume’s team make the trip to Dundee Stars on Sunday. The Fife boss is wary of the threat posed by Manchester.

“They are a highly offensive team and dangerous across all three lines,” said Dutiaume.

“We’ve seen them a couple of times this season and the last time they were here the result didn’t go our way, so were looking to improve on that.

“It’s a big weekend for us. If we want to stay near the top of the Conference we need to treat this like a play-off weekend.

To hear Fife netminder Craig Douglas’ views on the weekend ahead, please click the video above.

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday

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

Sunday

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

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