Capitals almost back to full strength for vital home ties

Capitals' Sergei Banashkov, right, tries to tuck the puck past Ryan Nie of Braehead Clan. Banashkov could play tonight
Capitals' Sergei Banashkov, right, tries to tuck the puck past Ryan Nie of Braehead Clan. Banashkov could play tonight
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A number of Edinburgh Capitals stars could be declared fit and return to the line-up ahead of tonight’s Elite League clash with Guildford Flames at Murrayfield, the first of two home games for the club this weekend. (both games face-off 6pm).

After a flu-bug swept through the team, Caps were missing six players through illness and injury last time out, resulting in a heavy 7-1 home defeat by Sheffield Steelers on Sunday.

Capitals player-coach Michael D’Orazio revealed his squad are returning to full health, with injured forward Callum Boyd the only definite absentee as Caps, who also play Dundee Stars tomorrow, look to build on only four league wins to date this season.

D’Orazio said: “Sergei Banashkov and Nikita Kolesnikovs (both flu) are back training and will play tonight. Konstantin Teslyukevich (hand) and Igor Valeyev (ankle) are back skating. Skating and playing are two different things, but there is a chance they could both feature. Michael Ireland is also back with us, but Callum Boyd will not play.

“The flu-bug got us pretty good, (Patrik) Moisio missed a few days practice this week but is back now, hopefully we’re through the worst of it”.

“It gets very hard to put together a full 60-minute performance when you’re down to two and a half lines and five or even four defenceman.”

Injuries, and illness are part of any team sport, but Caps, who in a disruptive season in which has seven players have left the club, are now playing with a squad three light of the 27 players on their books when the season faced-off last September. And, as Guildford prepare to give a debut tonight to American defence-man Mike Krieg, D’Orazio has not ruled out new arrivals ahead of next month’s transfer deadline, however Caps will not be bringing Mike Embach to Murrayfield after the former line-mate of Capitals’ top-scorer Mike Cazzola was released by Braehead Clan earlier this week.

D’Orazio said: “We’re not ruling anything out, even at this time of year there are guys who are looking for a job for one reason or an another. We’re always on the lookout for players who will improve the squad, but I cant say for definite if we will be bringing any more players in.

“I did have a look at bringing Embach here, but I think he’s keen to return to North America.”

Tonight will be the fourth and final meeting between Edinburgh and Guildford this season and D’Orazio has warned that Caps must do a better job of keeping in check Flames’ red-hot offensive talent which has stung Caps for 24 goals in their previous three meetings.

D’Orazio commented: “Our four league wins have all come at home, so having two games at Murrayfield this weekend gives us a great chance to pick up points. We’re a much better team at home and not travelling is ideal preparation, especially as we’ve had this flu bug sweeping through us – things like getting a good night’s rest in your own bed are important.

“We have something like 19 games left this season, and these are two games that will play an important part in ensuring we have a strong end to the year.

“Guildford are a fast team with a high-octane offence that includes some of the top point scorers in the league. To counter that we will need to be focused on the defensive end. We’ve had a good scout on them this week, and picked up on things we will need to do well in order to have success.”

Sunday’s opponents, Stars, have won six of their past seven games which has pushed them back in the mix for an end-of-season play-off spot.

“I’ve been impressed, they’re playing their best hockey right now, but we’ve matched up well against them all year and I expect another close one tomorrow,” added D’Orazio.