Capitals glad to see year out after punishing schedule

Rihards Grigors has been banned for checking Cody Carlson (not this incident)Rihards Grigors has been banned for checking Cody Carlson (not this incident)
Rihards Grigors has been banned for checking Cody Carlson (not this incident)
Edinburgh, in the midst of a five-game losing streak and sitting bottom of the ten-strong Elite League, are in terrible form.

They have shipped 25 goals in their past three games, however, both club co-owner Scott Neil and player-coach Michal Dobron are convinced Caps will return to being a competitive force in the new year.

Neil will meet with Dobron and senior players after their first game of 2017 at Nottingham Panthers on Monday, to discuss how best to put Edinburgh’s flagging season back on track, including the possibility of new additions.

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Neil said: “We have a meeting planned for Tuesday. We have two games to think about first, realistically not much can be done before then anyway.

“We’re still within touching distance of where we want to be. It’s time to sit down together and draw on our collective resources and hockey knowledge, and I want to include our senior players in this too.

“We need to find ways of becoming more consistent. There’s enough experience in the room, and touch wood none of our injuries are season-ending. Once we get everyone healthy again there are still a lot of points to play for and our end-of-season goal, which has always been a play-off place, is still very achievable.”

On new signings he added: “I wouldn’t rule that out, but unless it was a European player a work permit would be required, so the most sensible option would be to wait until 11th January, and we can bring someone in on a three-month visa which covers them right up until the play-off final weekend in Nottingham.”

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Edinburgh, who lost 7-2 on Monday night at home to Braehead Clan in a fiery encounter, are missing five players through injury, and will be without defenceman Rihards Grigors who has been banned for two games by the Elite League’s Department of Player Safety (DOPS) for a check to the head of Clan’s Cody Carlson.

DOPS also banned Braehead forward Corey Cowick for four games for checking to the head and then sucker punching Edinburgh’s Jared Staal, and Neil continued: “I’m not naming names, but we’re hoping some of our injured guys could be back in time for tomorrow’s game, or at worst the near future. Jared, however, will not be playing after he suffered a serious head injury and could be out for some time.”

Although concerned with Edinburgh’s form during their energy sapping stretch of six games in 10 days, player-coach Dobron, who went on social media to apologise to fans after a 9-3 defeat at Fife on Boxing Day, shares Neil’s optimism that things will soon turn around at Murrayfield.

The former Czech international defenceman said: “We’ve had problems with injuries and illness, now we have to forget about these last games. We need to keep it simple, we need to regain some confidence.

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“We’ve now had some time to practise, it’s our final game of the year and I hope the guys feel better and we can battle for the two points.

“After the game in Fife, I spoke with the guys because I cannot accept a performance like that. Against Braehead we played well at times, but with just 11 players it was very tiring. We were down to two-line hockey, and for a couple of our guys it was the first time in their life they’d played like that for 60 minutes.

“It’s difficult, but it’s the situation we find ourselves in and we have to do our best. If we do, even with players out, we’ll give ourselves chances to win.

“We were playing well just two weeks ago and I’m very confident we will be playing like that again soon, playing the way I want us to and picking up points.

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“There is an old Czech saying, if you finish the year strong, you will be strong in the next. Let’s see how we do tomorrow, we still have a lot of games waiting for us and I believe we can turn this around.”