Edinburgh Capitals’ play-off push continues tonight when they travel to Fife Flyers for the penultimate Forth derby of the season.
They then host fellow play-off hopefuls Dundee Stars at Murrayfield tomorrow (face-off 6pm).
Caps sit bottom of the ten-strong Elite League on 32 points, four adrift of Dundee and seven points behind both Manchester Storm and Coventry Blaze. However, the three games in hand Edinburgh hold over Coventry gives them a lifeline as the top eight teams qualify for the post-season and Edinburgh, with eight games still to play, have an outside chance.
Capitals may well have left themselves a mountain to climb, but for player-coach Michal Dobron there is no point in staring up at the summit, it’s all about staying in the moment.
“In our situation every game is important, every goal is important, every shift is important,” said Dobron: “It’s not even about taking things game-by-game any more, but making sure we concentrate on every shift. If we do that I think we will be rewarded with points and give ourselves a chance.”
Coming off the back of Edinburgh’s energy-sapping four games in six days last week, Caps, after defeats at Sheffield Steelers and, crucially, Coventry, looked dead and buried. But they breathed life into their campaign with a big 5-2 win at Manchester and then collected a point in a 2-2 home draw with league leaders Cardiff Devils last Sunday, only losing the game in overtime.
Dobron said: “Last weekend we played very well, especially in Manchester, and in the Cardiff game at Murrayfield we were also very good. We played very well in our ‘D’ zone, and didn’t give them what I like to call 100 per cent chances. I spoke with the guys afterwards and reminded them we must play like this from now on and keep taking points.”
Edinburgh beat both Fife and Dundee the last time the teams met, both wins coming away from Murrayfield in overtime and on penalty-shots respectively. Caps have beaten Fife twice in Kirkcaldy this season which is no mean feat as Flyers like to dominate proceedings in their own barn. And if Dobron needs reminding of that fact he need look no further than their 6-3 home win over Sheffield last Sunday, most likely ending the Yorkshire outfit’s title hopes.
Dobron though, is well aware of what to expect tonight. “Fife and Dundee are both good teams. Fife, at home especially, play very good hockey. We need to be ready for them and play like we did last weekend for the whole 60 minutes. Yes, we managed a win last time we were in Fife, but that won’t change anything, they’ll keep playing the way they do in Kirkcaldy and it will be a very tough game for us.
“Dundee are a team that can win anywhere, or lose anywhere. We won on their ice last time and of course it’s going to be difficult for us but we go into both games with confidence, looking to win.”
Edinburgh will have Matt Tipoff back in the line-up after the Canadian, who has missed the last three games through injury, returned to training this week, and will be hopeful Ian Schultz can continue his good form in front of goal – he’s scored in four straight games, and now leads the team in league goals with 17 for the season.
Caps are improving, of that there is no doubt but with games running out it could prove too late.
With only four first-team regulars returning from last season, the bedding-in process has taken too long, but Edinburgh could reap the benefits of this group of players in the future insists first-year coach Dobron.
“This team, it’s our first year together, and it was always going to be a learning process for us. Our level of play will continue to rise with time. If this team stays together they will just continue to improve.
“Ian Schultz, especially after the New Year, you can just see he keeps getting better and better almost every game. He has grown into a real leader on this team, and he will continue to be a big help to us over these final games of the season.”