Tomas Hiadlovsky reckons that patient build-up play has been the key to Edinburgh Capitals’ return to form.
The Slovakian goalie believes the approach is helping Caps look more like the team that last year managed a top-six finish and claimed a spot in the end-of-season play-offs for the first time in three years. However, he admits it will be tough for them to complete their fourth straight Elite League win when they face-off against Nottingham Panthers at the National Ice Centre tomorrow night.
Edinburgh’s winning run began with a home victory over Fife Flyers on Hogmanay and the dressing-room has a different vibe to the one that endured a 13-game losing streak earlier in the season that was finally snapped with a 7-6 victory over tomorrow’s opponents.
Hiadlovsky said: “Everybody’s feeling great right now. We had a team talk after the Hogmanay game where we promised to keep playing this year the way we finished the last. As a team we’re keeping our concentration better and getting back to playing the patient hockey that helped us win a lot of games last season. We’re playing better hockey in our own zone which is helping us all over the ice. We had such a bad start to the season and it wasn’t fun but there are still over 20 games left to play and our goal has always been to make the play-offs – and we can still do it.”
Nottingham, who last season completed a remarkable treble winning the league, Challenge Cup and play-off finals, were rocked earlier this week when ex-NHL forward Joe Jensen quit the club. However, Hiadlovsky believes the league’s top scorers have more than enough firepower to compensate for the loss.
He said: “They have a big squad full of good players and it will be a very difficult game for us. We had that great win over them at Murrayfield and the last time we played them down there we lost 4-1, but played a good game and created plenty of opportunities to score. If we play that way again we will give ourselves a chance.”
The fact that Nottingham were beaten 7-2 in a midweek Challenge Cup match at Braehead Clan will also have no bearing on tomorrow’s game according to Hiadlovsky, especially as Corey Neilson’s men still made it through to the semi-finals with an aggregate victory: “They’re through to the next round and that’s all they’ll care about,” he said. “Nobody likes to lose though and they might feel they have something to prove to their fans, which could make our job even harder.”
Caps, who will be sweating on the fitness of defenceman Danny McIntyre, who missed last Sunday’s win over Coventry Blaze with a head injury, and Neil Hay, who failed to ice in the third period of the same game after picking up a knee knock, complete their weekend with a home game against conference rivals Hull Stingrays on Sunday (face-off 6pm) – the eighth and final time the two teams will meet in regular season play.
Despite being a fixture which, on paper at least, should be competitive, Edinburgh have only beaten Hull twice this season, losing the other five meeings – including two heavy away 7-1 defeats. Hiadlovsky added: ”Over the course of a season sometimes you can do nothing but win against a team, or sometimes it’s the opposite and whatever you try you can’t beat them. We have beaten them of course but they know how to play well against us.
“They have beaten us 7-1 in their own rink twice, and that gives us extra motivation for Sunday’s game.
“They’re a very good team at home but now we have them up here and it gives us a chance to pay them back. It’s a game the boys really want to win.”