Injuries and suspensions have hampered Caps – Neil

Richard Hartmann is recovering from a knee injury. Pic: Jan Orkisz/SMP

Richard Hartmann is recovering from a knee injury. Pic: Jan Orkisz/SMP

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EDINBURGH CAPITALS co-owner Scott Neil insists injuries and suspensions have taken their toll on a side who are now without a win in nine games.

The Caps travel to Elite League leaders Braehead Clan tomorrow for the first of two matches this weekend – a formidable prospect for a side looking for their first victory in over a month. Since losing Greg Collins to a puck in the face during their season opener against Belfast Giants, the Caps have without key players on almost a weekly basis.

They have so far been unable to ice a full-strength team, bar the opening two periods of that 2-1 home defeat by the Giants in early September.

Edinburgh sit second from bottom in the ten-strong league, and have already crashed out of the Challenge Cup, and Neil is anxiously awaiting news on whether American defenceman Joe Grimaldi will be cleared to play after missing the last six games with a groin injury.

“I’ll be chatting to both the physio and Grimaldi later today,” said Neil, “and I’m hopeful he’ll be able to play tomorrow. We have missed him and it will be a big boost to have him back.

“[Eighteen-year-old defenceman] Jay King has been doing an excellent job in his absence but having Joe back will take a little bit of the pressure off him and we’ll have five D-men that we can rely on.”

Also currently on the treatment table, player-coach Richard Hartmann will miss at least another week with a knee injury, and Neil continued: “We need to get this team back to full-strength and measure them from there. We’re a club who need all hands on deck and we’ve been missing important players in every game we’ve played. We’ve shown flashes of what we can do, but the boys, for one reason or another, have been denied a chance to prove themselves.

“Saying that, of course I have my concerns. We’re not generating enough chances and that’s an area we really need to look at.”

Caps returned to the city in the early hours of yesterday morning after a road-trip that took in four games in five nights. Edinburgh, were well beaten at both Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers, but suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat to fellow-strugglers Hull Stingrays. Their best showing was a 2-2 draw with Coventry Blaze which they eventually lost on penalty shots.

Positives from the trip were the form of goalie Tomas Hiadlovsky, and three goals in three games from Slovakian forward Rene Jarolin.

“We need to be clinical and bury our chances when we get them,” added Neil.

“That’s three goals in three games now for Jarolin. He’s a big player for us and we need to get him firing and, if this is the start of something, then great.

“We have been missing a scoring line and I think when Jarolin is reunited with Hartmann, we will start to see them play well together. But again, so far this season they’ve just not been able to.

“Braehead this weekend will be another big test for us. We’ve got to be looking at cutting down their opportunities but that’s more to do with what we do with the puck when we’re in possession than errors we’re making when defending.

“The more chances we create, the less time they’ll have shooting at our net.

“We need to find a way to win games, once we get a lead we’re a different team.

“We went 2-1 up Coventry and we fought really hard to protect that and that’s the type of team we need to be.”