Edinburgh Capitals co-owner Scott Neil is relishing the opportunity to see how his team fare at home against “the country’s best” beginning tonight against Elite League leaders Cardiff Devils, before a match-up with second-placed Sheffield Steelers tomorrow in rare consecutive home games at Murrayfield.
Devils, riding a six-game win streak, will be well-rested having travelled up yesterday ahead of tonight’s 7.30pm face-off and Neil said: “These are the two teams who look most likely to win the league and both of them come here playing well. It’s a really good opportunity to match ourselves at home against the country’s best and see where we sit.
“Every weekend we go in looking for at least two points and, despite the quality of the opposition, tonight and tomorrow are no different.
With the ice hockey season now in full swing, Neil is, in the main, pleased with what his side have produced over their first 16 competitive games, but warned improvement is required after a poor showing in a 4-1 home loss to Manchester Storm last time out.
“We have to be pleased so far,” said Neil: “We have qualified for the next round of the Challenge Cup, which along with the end of season play-offs, was one of our main targets. It looks like we’ll get either Sheffield or Nottingham Panthers in the quarter-final. We had a great win in Nottingham last Saturday and, of course, tomorrow will be our first chance to have a look at Sheffield.
“A win against Manchester would have put us nicely mid-table in the league but we’re there or there about with a number of teams we will be battling with all season.
“We’ve been playing reasonable hockey with some exciting games. That Manchester game was not one of them, though. We lacked intensity and we will need to be much better on that front tonight.
“We have a chance to get back to winning ways again in front of our home fans, which is something we need to keep doing regularly.”
Last Sunday’s Storm loss was frustrating to watch. The Murrayfield goal-nets, especially those being manned by Manchester goalie Mike Clemente, were knocked off their moorings close to 20 times during the game according to Neil.
Neil refused to give his opinion on the reason behind the constant stoppages, which have not blighted other games at Murrayfield to the same extent, but added: “The nets are supplied by the rink and we’ve had meetings with them this week to see if we can stop this happening so much in future. It affected the game on Sunday and killed the tempo.”
Capitals player-coach Michal Dobron, who hopes to have Matt Tipoff back in the squad after the Canadian missed last week through illness, believes simplicity is the key ahead of what are sure to be a tough two games for Edinburgh.
Dobron said: “Practice has all been about working on our skating and keeping things simple. Our style is a simple but effective one. We need to shoot the puck more, and get to the rebounds. To do that, we need to be more aggressive in the offensive zone.
“Last weekend, we played two very different games. In Nottingham, we played very well from the first minute to the last, but on Sunday you could see some of us were tired which makes it difficult to play the way we want too.
“We over complicated things and were always looking for that extra pass when we had the chance to shoot, and against the top teams that’s no good.”
In line with Armistice day commemorations, Capitals are offering members of the armed forces half-priced entry to both games this weekend on production of their military ID.
Tomorrow’s visitors Sheffield travel without top-enforcer Zack Fitzgerald, who is suspended following a check-to-the-head on Coventry Blaze goalie Brian Stewart, which no doubt lessens the chances of fireworks this November 5 – on the ice at least.