The Monday After: A different game

Cardiff Devils and Nottingham Panthers shared the points at the weekend, but haven't found their stride this season (PHOTO: Dave Williams)

A different game

If they haven’t learned this by now, then goodness knows when it’s going to sink in as the Elite League continues to intrigue as much as it entertains.

All ten teams are in a season-long scrap and as good as it is to see the so-called lesser teams picking up wins, it’s giving a real competitive edge to the Elite League we haven’t seen.

The bottom line is there’s no divine right for anyone to expect their team to be heads and shoulders above anyone at this stage of the season when all teams are effectively cutting each other’s throats.

I’ve seen the posts on social media where fans of teams from clubs like Belfast, Cardiff etc are left dumbfounded that they haven’t been able to see off a Coventry, a Glasgow, a Fife.

I get the frustration, especially where the early season form hasn’t been convincing, but I’m left to wonder on what basis where they expect a thumping or even a one-sided victory.

I saw bits of Chris Ellis’ excellent interview with Nottingham Panthers owner Neil Black last week (worth checking out through the BBC Nottingham Sport’s Facebook page, if you haven’t) and he spoke of the fact they aren’t where they expect to be at this time of the campaign.

Liam Reddox has yet to taste an away win since signing for Belfast Giants (PHOTO: Al Goold)

Now, to add context, Nottingham were on a seven-game losing slide so Black’s comments with that in mind is worth accepting, but given just how much the standard of the league has improved across the EIHL, where are they meant to be?

None of these teams deserve to be top of the table by a long way, even now as we inch closer to November and as I write this, we’ve come off a weekend where Coventry, who toiled in the early part of the season, collected four points in Scotland.

Belfast picked up three points this weekend, but have yet to pick up an away win this season.  Sheffield have blown hot and cold, but have been more hot in recent games. Cardiff and Nottingham have shared the points this weekend, with Panthers finally ending that seven-game run.

I could go, but you see the point I’m making.  This league is going to see Manchester beat Belfast, as they have done twice this season and Fife travel and take points away from places like Guildford.

It’s not like the way the league was ten, or even five years ago when you saw more scores veer into double figures because the gulf in quality was laid bare and cruelly in some cases.

It’s not like any more and while I understand some clubs spend more on their teams than others, having a big resumé doesn’t necessarily mean a player will stroll it in the UK any more.  Those days are gone.

There are plenty of bumps and twists to come for all teams in this wonderfully bonkers season so let’s enjoy it, warts and all.

Joey Martin – he’s quite good

Catching up with social media after the games on Sunday and Cardiff Devils posted a tweet out that caught my eye, that Joey Martin had beat Max Birbraer’s record of 432 points in a Devils jersey in the EIHL era.

Martin ended the weekend overtaking him to get to 434 in 345 games since arriving in South Wales in 2014.

What’s more impressive was the stat that Birbraer had reached his mark in 391 games – nearly 50 more than Martin, showing just how prolific the Cardiff skipper has been.

They already call him the GOAT (Greatest of all time, for those not with the jargon) in Cardiff and it’s fair to say he’s certainly in the discussion, maybe even in the top three (Devils fans can keep me right on that)

But what about where Martin stands in the pantheon of greats in the Elite League, or even in the UK?  Is he worthy of being involved in the conversation at that level?  The numbers add up and any other team in the UK would love to have him wearing their colours.

It’s one to ponder and when the day comes when he moves on with his life, whether in hockey or not, he certainly deserves all the adulation and appreciation he’ll get for such a stellar job in Cardiff.

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