Edinburgh Capitals, sitting bottom of the Elite League, will be hungry for points when they travel to Braehead Clan this evening before entertaining Fife Flyers at Murrayfield tomorrow (face-off 6pm).
Tonight is the first of four straight games for Edinburgh against Scottish opposition and forward Taylor MacDougall, who is the face of the Supporters Club’s Christmas food drive with his ‘Blocking out Hunger’ initiative, admits this is a huge weekend for the Murrayfield men who, in a congested bottom half of the table, now sit three points outside an end-of-season play-off place.
Following on from last weekend’s defeats at Cardiff Devils and at home to Belfast Giants, MacDougall said: “We’ve had a positive week in practice and we have two huge Conference games beginning tonight against local rivals.
“You never want to check a table and see yourselves at the bottom, but just a couple of wins will help change that. It’s been a tough stretch with a lot of travelling recently, playing some of the top clubs, so we’re looking forward to playing teams that we’re looking to catch in the standings and are a little closer to home as well.
“There were positives to take out of both our games last weekend and we need to expand on those and certainly minimise some of the negative breakdowns that you saw.
“If you look at our starts both at home and on the road lately they’ve been good, it’s just maintaining that effort through 60 minutes and getting away from the lulls that have been happening.”
Big-hearted MacDougall, along with the Supporters Club, are collecting tinned and dried food items from generous fans, and the 6ft 3in centre-man has pledged to hand over one item for every shot he blocks until the club make their donation to the city’s North West Food-bank following next Sunday’s home game against Dundee Stars.
“I was brainstorming ideas with some of the supporters and “blocking out hunger” with the shot-blocks kinda worked. I wish I could rely on my scoring or maybe we could have done something with that instead,” joked the modest Canadian.
MacDougall, who signed for Edinburgh with a reputation as a defensive and face-off specialist after graduating from The University of New Brunswick where he won a Canadian Championship, has contributed more than his fair share offensively with six goals and nine assists from 16 league games. He lies joint second on the team in scoring across all competitions.
MacDougall continued: “The Supporters Club have been awesome organising it all and putting out the collection bins for donations on match days.
“I’ll need to double check the stats but I think we’re sitting on five blocked-shots after last weekend, and there are already people who’ve got behind this on social media and are willing to match my final donation, so we’re off to a good start.”
Caps travel to Braehead today without injured Czech defenceman Jaroslav Hertl and Tyler Plews who is with the Great Britain Under-20s team ahead of next week’s World Championships in Budapest. However, Latvian blue-liner Rihards Grigors is available for selection and Garrett Milan, who missed both games last week through illness, returns to the line up.
Capitals’ co-owner Scott Neil believes a strong showing over the festive period and into the new year is crucial as Edinburgh look to climb the table and make their first play-off appearance in four years.
Neil said: “It’s majorly important we get at least two points out of this weekend, and it would be nice for four.
“Winning at home against Gardiner Conference opposition is vital for us. This month and heading into January we have a lot of those type of games. If we can cut out some of the sloppy mistakes we’ve been making by sticking to our systems and playing to our potential, I believe we can pick up a lot of points.
“We need wins on the board to be in a healthy position come mid-January and push for a play-off spot. Obviously Braehead and Fife are both good teams, but if we are well prepared and focus like we should for 60 minutes then we will give ourselves a chance in both games.”