Two huge games in the Elite League this Wednesday evening could have big impacts on the race for the league title and final playoff place.
1930 Glasgow Clan vs. Cardiff Devils (Tickets | FreeSports Live)
The FreeSports cameras are up at intu Braehead tonight for a vital game in the title race. Cardiff’s slip-up in Sheffield at the weekend means they now have just a slender one-win advantage over Belfast Giants chasing them heading into a building where the Clan beat the Giants 5-0 last month.
Cardiff’s record in Glasgow is good, having not lost there since January 2016. The Devils have won every meeting between the sides this season, except for the Challenge Cup return leg in Wales which saw them knocked out.
For the Clan, already assured of a playoff place, this is their game in hand on Nottingham. A win would put the Scottish side back into third place overall ahead of themselves and the Panthers meeting at the weekend. The team are also looking to end a four-game losing streak after weekend defeats to Dundee and then by shutout to the Devils. Despite this run of form, netminder Joel Rumpel is still averaging almost 90% of shots saved.
“We have four games left. If we keep playing like we did in Cardiff I think we’ll get some more puck luck and win games. We have to build off of that, and the target is still to finish third.” – Pete Russell (Head Coach, Glasgow Clan)
The Devils’ loss in Sheffield took away their safety net ahead of Belfast, who hold the tiebreak with more overall wins – a loss here would then mean they rely on the Giants dropping points going forward. Despite the defeat the team still have some players putting up consistent numbers – Gleason Fournier has either a goal or assist in his last four games, while Mike Hedden and Mark Richardson have four and three points respectively over the same period. Ben Bowns is still averaging a save percentage of over 94%.
“They’re all big games and that’s what makes this league so exciting. We played well against Glasgow in our own rink on Sunday, but we know all to well how dangerous they are and will have to be on top of our game again.” – Andrew Lord (Head Coach, Cardiff Devils)
|At home||On road|
|Av. Goals For||4.04||3.52|
|Av. Goals Against||2.89||2.44|
If the above game is vital for the league championship, then this one in Dundee is absolutely pivotal in the race for the playoffs. Two of three teams battling for the final place meet at the Dundee Ice Arena, with a loss for either having serious impacts on their chances of making the post season.
Dundee will have played a game more than Manchester and Coventry after this game, both of whom they currently trail by a point. The Stars picked up impressive wins in Glasgow and Nottingham last weekend to stay in touch, and now have the perfect chance to get inside the top eight on their own ice. The Stars have been able to count on nine different goal scorers in their last four games, and will need the likes of Matt Bissonnette (two in two) and Lukas Lundvald (hat-trick in Glasgow) to be on their game in this crucial match. Pontus Sjögren in net has averaged just over 88% of shots saved in his last five.
“Now we have put ourselves almost back to square one, so it is a great opportunity for us to get back in the mix of things and push for that playoff spot. I think they are a different team from a month ago and they are hungry as well because they are competing for the same positioning. So, we have to make sure we are ready as ever and we will prepare as much as we can.” – Omar Pacha (Head Coach, Dundee Stars)
Coventry’s Sunday evening win over Fife brought them level on points with Manchester, and this is effectively their game in hand on the Storm for now. The Blaze were deeply unlucky to leave Belfast without any points from two games; and while a loss for them tonight isn’t mathematically the end of the world, that three of their last four games are then against sides inside the top five would leave themselves a lot to do playing catchup. Coventry have also had goals from all over their roster in recent games, while Matt Hackett is saving almost 92% of the shots he’s faced in the last five games.
“It’s a must win game. In our last game in Dundee we let it slip away, so it’s important to go there with the right mindset and bring back two points.” – Danny Stewart (Head Coach, Coventry Blaze)
Dundee have won both meetings between the teams at the DIA so far this season, the most recent in a third period comeback from 3-1 down.
|At home||On road|
|Av. Goals For||3.04||2.63|
|Av. Goals Against||3.11||3.70|
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