Edinburgh Capitals have been given a boost ahead of tomorrow’s derby against fellow Elite League strugglers Fife Flyers in Kirkcaldy with news that Tomas Horna – who spent last week in the Czech Republic after his father was involved in a car accident – is returning to the club today.
However, player-coach Richard Hartmann revealed training ahead of a game vital in Edinburgh’s ice hockey play-off chase, including work on the Caps’ misfiring power-play, has been hampered after a flu bug swept though the dressing-room.
Edinburgh missed Horna’s experience last weekend, losing both their matches, but Hartmann was full of praise for his 17-year-old replacement, Jay King, who scored his first competitive goal for the club in Sunday’s 4-3 penalty shot loss to Hull Stingrays: “Take nothing away from Jay,” said Hartmann. “He did some great work for us last week, but Tomas is an experienced player, he’s part of our top line and his return can only bring good things for us.” Hartmann admits that players have been plagued with flu over the last few weeks and this week especially training has been affected.
He said: “We’ve been battered with flu – it’s swept through the dressing room, so we’ve been taking it easy and giving the boys as much time as possible to recover.
“We’ve missed guys throughout the week and we’ve not been able to practice much.
“I’m not trying to make excuses, I’m just telling you how it is. Depending on how the guys are feeling today we’ll try and get a good practice in ahead of the weekend.
“Our power-play has not been firing lately and we’ve not worked on it the way I would have liked, but the guys know what they should be doing and I guess it just depends on the players’ creativity on the night – I can only hope for an improvement.”
Last weekend’s results saw Edinburgh return to the foot of the Elite League table, a point behind Fife. Cardiff Devils occupy the eighth and final play-off spot and after their impressive 8-4 win over Nottingham Panthers last night saw them move five points clear of the Murrayfield men.
Coventry Blaze, in seventh spot, could yet be dragged into a play-off battle, but it looks increasingly likely that the three bottom clubs will be scrapping for that final post season spot.
With 19 league games remaining, and with the two clubs to meet a further three times before the season ends, rather than some sort of do-or-die clash Hartmann sees tomorrow as just one of a run of very important games for the club. “Every game is important,” he said. “I’m not looking too much at what is going on around us – we’re just focused on putting in our maximum effort every night.
“We need to get our heads right and prepare for a battle. If we think for one minute that things will come to us easily, then nothing will work. We spent most of the first half of the season sleeping and that’s what’s put us in this situation.”
Jordan Steel, a product of the Murrayfield junior system and now in his seventh season with the Capitals, is looking for a third straight win over their oldest rivals – especially as Edinburgh complete their weekend with a difficult home fixture against run-away league leaders Belfast Giants (face-off 6pm).
Steel said: “It’s one we’re looking to win. All these conference games we play, especially with where we are in the league right now, we have to look at like that because when we play teams like Belfast or Nottingham it’s almost a bonus if we pick up a point or two.
“All the players are aware of the situation – straight after matches we look out for the other results, and when we see teams like Cardiff or Fife picking up points we know that doesn’t help us. But we never think like that before a game.
“As a player, whether you’re first in the league or last, all you think about is going out on the ice and trying your best to win.”