Ice Hockey: Edinburgh Capitals tightens defence for double-header

Edinburgh Capitals have home advantage and third-top Steelers come into the game following what is traditionally a physically punishing Challenge Cup Group B clash with arch-rivals Nottingham Panthers, who are second in the Elite League standings, at The House of Steel.

And the Murrayfield men are desperate to turn the corner after a sequence of poor results culminating in Wednesday's away defeat at Coventry Blaze, the reigning league champions.

So far, Capitals have played Steelers once. It was a sore one as they lost 8-0 in late September in Yorkshire. So, revenge is on their minds.

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To accomplish that, the home side must brush up on clearing their own zone and coach Brad Gratton worked on that in training this week.

Taylor, who was a seventh-round draft pick by Carolina Hurricanes eight years ago, appreciates the point more than most. The 27-year-old, who scored a double in Capitals 6-2 defeat at Coventry in midweek, has experience of the tough East Coast and American Hockey Leagues, and he is among the most potent threats that Capitals now possess.

A goal and an assist in Sunday's disappointing home defeat by Scottish rivals Braehead Clan maintains Taylor at the top of Capitals' scoring charts.

And Taylor is looking to add more points this weekend despite the quality of the opposition.

Sheffield have won eight and lost three of their 11 league games in collecting 16 points, scoring 55 goals, the third highest total behind the 64 of Belfast Giants and the 73 by Nottingham Panthers.

Capitals, who are ninth, have four points from 11 games, having won twice. They have scored 36 goals and let in 66.

Taylor has scored 11 of them and set up 11 other strikes and he said: "Sheffield are one of the top four teams in this league. We all know that - we also know that things aren't going too well with us. However, during the first period on Sunday we were all over them (Braehead]. They couldn't handle it.

"That shows that we have offence on this team. We can run with them even though they have a strong team. We should have won that. We can play well against teams but we can't make mistakes. Little things change games. If we make mistakes against Sheffield then they will hurt us."

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Who are the danger men? Sheffield, barring injury, should bring two former National Hockey League players with them, player/coach Ben Simon and Rob Globke.

Simon is fourth in his team's individual stats and Globke tenth. Ahead of them is the potent Joey Talbot with ten goals and 18 assists in 16 games and Jeff Legue with 15 goals and 12 assists in the same number of games.

Great Britain player Ashley Tait is next with 25 points (eight goals and 17 assists), then comes Simon with eight goals and nine assists. Globke, for the record, has three goals and six assists.

Taylor said: "We can't go five-on-four [have a man in the penalty box] against them as they have real power up front. They have great history as a club, too, but we have an advantage in our rink.

"We practice here, we know what the boards will do, and if we stick to the game plan then we can give them a game."

Taylor conceded that Capitals have to be smarter in their own end and not turn the puck over, adding: "We must help cover Scott [Reid, Capitals' netminder]. The guys have had enough shots. He had 59 in Nottingham and saved 51 of them and 59 in Coventry and saved 53 of them, but you can't have a guy doing that.

"Scott has been making big saves for us and, hopefully, in the next few weeks we'll get more comfortable and things will gel better. We've got to stay positive, but our biggest thing is keeping our defensive zone solid."

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