The Sheffield Steelers have sat atop the Elite League table for weeks now, looking impressive all season.
Now that's a title race 🔥
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) February 9, 2022
With 30 of their 54 games now played is it too early to call them the nailed on EIHL Champions?
They’ve looked rock solid all season long rarely losing a game, the Steelers have been marching along at a steady pace.
25 wins from 30 games, 2 more than the Cardiff Devils who sit second and the Steelers have three games in hand on.
Currently they are five unbeaten with a 3-2 loss to Dundee spoiling a seven-game unbeaten spree prior to that.
They’ve only lost the one game in the New Year and with the seasons end approaching in a couple of months there is still all to play for.
Also, they have scored five or more goals in 12 of their 30 games played so far.
Their defensive record isn’t bad either conceding 71 goals, the second best in the league behind the Belfast Giants.
Rok Stojanovic has been a big part of their success, winning 20 of the 25 games he’s played.
He’s also second in the league for save percentage at 93.30% and a GAA (Goals Against Average) of 2.36.
Cardiff Devils’ Mac Curruth is the only netminder with better stats than the Slovenian.
Marc-Olivier Vallerand must take some of the credit too.
He is the League’s top point scorer (43) currently, having iced 28 times this season.
He sits second in the league for goals (20) and fourth for assists (23).
And while both those areas are topped by Devils players, they have an extra three games played.
The Giants sit just two points behind the Devils in third, also with three games on the Welsh side.
With the gap between them and Sheffield at six points it really isn’t over until it’s over.
However, Sheffield are pulling further and further away as Belfast fell to a shootout loss against the Devils.
The Nottingham Panthers do sit fourth but it’s fair to say they’re out of the race as Mark Matheson admits his side have struggled to score goals.
If both Belfast and Sheffield were to win their games in hand over Cardiff that could see a much bigger gap open up.
However, our writer Luke James believes that all is not over for the Giants in the Elite League this season.
Luke James Analysis:
There’s no doubt that Sheffield, Cardiff, and Belfast have enough quality to win this year’s regular-season title. They’ve each got the coaching and players to win silverware this term.
However, the Devils are running out of games. Jarrod Skalde’s side have completed their fixtures against Belfast and only face Sheffield twice more this season. They’d need to sweep Sheffield in their remaining meeting to stand a chance of catching them. It’s improbable; not impossible.
That leaves Belfast and Sheffield. In their only meeting of the season to date, the Steelers won 7-1 on home ice; it was a statement performance by Aaron Fox’s side.
However, they face off against one another three times in the final week of the season, meaning this year’s title fight will go down to the wire. The Giants are the Elite League’s best defensive team; the Steelers are dominant in the offensive zone.
Although Sheffield are my pick to win the regular-season title, I have the Giants down as my Playoff winners.
It’s getting to crunch time in the Elite League season and there can only be one winner.
Let us know who you think it’ll be on Twitter and in the comments below.