Ice Hockey: Team undergo some special conditioning

Edinburgh CAPITALS captain Jan Safar today revealed how the players have gone flat out this week to snap their seven-game losing streak – by enjoying a special sports messages.

Caps host second-placed Nottingham Panthers at Murrayfield on Sunday and Safar highlighted how far player-coach Richard Hartmann had gone to secure that elusive win.

“Everybody’s fine and doing well. We’ve all been working hard and on Wednesday Richard arranged for us all to have a sports massage, so we’re all feeling nice and loose.

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“This season we’ve had a lot of injuries, so these massages help the muscles recover from matches and training and help prevent us getting hurt again in the future. Nottingham are a really good team, in my opinion the best in the league, so it will be a really tough match.

“In the last couple of weeks we’ve shown we can play against these teams, I’m sure we’re going to give them a good game, we’ve all just to be on the same page. If we stick to the game plan and stay positive we could definitely pick up the win and surprise everyone.

“Last Sunday (a 6-3 home loss to Sheffield Steelers) we lost the game in five bad minutes. Sometimes we lose our focus, and it costs us. We’ve got to play well and focus for 60 minutes and I’m sure we’ll be okay.”

Edinburgh’s run of poor form – one win from their last 15 games – has seen them being dragged into a four-way scrap for two end-of-season Elite League play-off berths, alongside Hull Stingrays and two fierce local rivals in Fife Flyers and Dundee Stars.

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Capitals are eighth with 25 points and hold the final play-off spot. Hull, who are in action tonight at home to the Coventry Blaze, are in seventh with 26 points, while Fife Flyers, whose form continued to improve when they took Braehead Clan all the way on Tuesday in Kirkcaldy, eventually losing 2-1 after penalty shots, are six points behind Edinburgh. Dundee are bottom of the pile in tenth place on 17 points.

Edinburgh fans have been alarmed by their team’s form but Safar is refusing to panic and he is only concentrating on what his own side can achieve in the games ahead.

He said: “We’re focusing on ourselves; we don’t really look at what the other teams are doing or get nervous. Our goal is to make the play-offs and we’re going to do everything in our power to get the job done.”

For Nottingham, who recently strengthened their already impressive roster with the signing of vastly experienced Canadian forward Rhett Gordon who has spent time in some of Europe’s top leagues including a two-year stint with the now defunct Ayr Scottish Eagles, it’s their third and final regular season visit to Edinburgh and the free-scoring team were a class above Caps winning the two encounters 5-1 and 8-0, Edinburgh’s heaviest home loss of the campaign.

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However, despite the margin of their previous victories, Panthers, who have a home game against Dundee tomorrow, are refusing to take their trip to the Riverside rink lightly.

A point emphasised by Panthers American net-minder Craig Kowalski: “Going up to Edinburgh on Sunday is going to be tough, it always is going to Scotland after playing on the Saturday night.

“Your body’s all banged up, and then you get on the bus for a while, get off, and play those teams. We’ll just have to concentrate even harder and make sure we don’t slip up.”