While their closest Elite League title challengers battle each other to see who, if any, can emerge from the pack to provide any sort of competition to their dominance this season, the Belfast Giants can fully focus on just the one game this weekend, at the Braehead Clan on Saturday night.
Leading the standings by an astonishing 17 points, Paul Adey’s side could relax, perhaps ease off for a weekend or two but their relentless pursuit of the championship shows no sign of that happening, and they emphasised that once again last week with wins in Sheffield and Edinburgh.
“In Sheffield we just started so well. You could see from that very first shift we were determined to get something the points from that game and I thought we outplayed them for the first two periods and we were the better team,” explained the Giants coach.
“In the third period they came hard at us and I thought we were too defensive and we had to absorb a lot of pressure but credit Stephen Murphy who made some big saves and we were strong defensively to see the game out.
“It was a big two points because it really puts Sheffield in a hole, they’re a long way behind.
“Then going into Edinburgh, you can never count those guys out, they have a way of surprising you but we knew if we got off to a good start we may not win it in the first period but we could make it tough on them and scoring six goals put them in a position they couldn’t recover from.”
While offensively the Giants have been like a juggernaut this season, defensively they’ve allowed the fewest goals in the league as well.
Adey admits, “Those guys have been great all season. All six defencemen can play in any situation against any line on any team and when there is a little mistake you have Murphy there to save everybody.
“That’s what the goalie’s job is and no one does it better than he does.”
Just a month ago the Giants faced the Braehead Clan in two games over the Christmas period.
Had the Clan won them both they’d have closed the gap at the top to just four points.
Now they find themselves 17 points behind.
Adey added, “Braehead will be a tough game. They obviously feel like they still have an outside chance of catching us but the guys have been preparing well for the game. We’ve had some good battles against them this season but if we’ll be looking to go into another big road game determined as we always are to get a win.”
The Giants will return to the Odyssey Arena next Tuesday night for the first leg of the Challenge Cup semi-final against the Cardiff Devils.