Ice Hockey: Final Four is the target for Doug's injury-ravaged Caps

EDINBURGH Capitals coach Doug Christiansen has tried to switch the pressure to Elite League play-off rivals Nottingham Panthers by saying: "They've got everything to lose."

Murrayfield Director of Hockey Christiansen knows the odds are stacked against his side in the weekend double-header.

But the American still dreams of guiding the Edinburgh side to the final four for the first time in franchise history.

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Christiansen, named as Coach of the Year earlier this week, said: "It's David versus Goliath and, remember, David won."

Panthers hold all the aces. Their squad is packed with seasoned professionals, many of whom have played in the National Hockey League.

Their wage bill is understood to be double the one paid out by owner Scott Neil to the Caps.

Panthers finished the season in third spot, collecting 70 points from their 56 regular season games, 18 more than Edinburgh and they had 34 wins while Edinburgh finished with 22.

Panthers scored 215 goals, the second most behind newly-crowned champions Coventry Blaze. Edinburgh netted 177 times.

As the club which finished highest in the league, the Panthers elected to have the second leg at home on Sunday at 4pm so, if the game is tied after 120 minutes, overtime and penalty shots are at their rink.

The Capitals, however, have caused Nottingham problems this season, winning two of the eight games, a 5-1 victory at Murrayfield on 3 January being the highlight.

The other win came in early November, also at the Riversdale rink, when Capitals squeezed through by the odd goal in nine. The last time the sides met was on 17 March, when Panthers emerged 3-2 winners and Christiansen remains up-beat despite Capitals' poor run in.

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His men have only collected one point from a possible 12 – an overtime defeat at home to Coventry last Saturday – and Capitals last win came at home on 10 March when they thrashed Cardiff Devils 8-3.

Christiansen said: "All the pressure is on them. We're a little team from Scotland that works its socks off. We're also injury-riddled.

"However, we've worked all season to get here and everybody wants to play in the play-offs.

"It's why we work hard all year to get a shot at making the final four and winning crucial play-off games can make players legends.

"This is our cup final. It's a two-game season for us now and we've shown that we can beat this team." Christiansen added: "To win this weekend we have to outwork them. We've done it before and we can do it again.

"We all have to play at our absolute best to have a chance and make fewer mistakes than Nottingham in 120 minutes.

"They have a host of players who are really dangerous and we can't afford to take penalties as their power play is terrifying.

"We've been working on our power play this week to sharpen up as we have to take chances when they come.

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"The expectation is all on them not us but we can dream and I believe we can make it to the final four."

Capitals will give late fitness checks to a number of key players including inspirational hit-man Owen Fussey, defenceman Sean Perkins and Great Britain blue liner Kyle Horne.

A number of the other players are struggling but Nottingham also have fitness worries.

David Clarke is subject to a late test but vows to be at Murrayfield and Dominic D'Amour, a third round draft pick for the NHL, saw a specialist in midweek and was relieved to find out that his foot is badly bruised but there were no broken bones. If he can walk then he'll play.

Netminder Kevin St Pierre skated with his team-mates in midweek to help complete his rehabilitation and Canadian forward Cameron Mann, who played 100 NHL games for Boston and Nashville, has responded to rest and treatment and was also back on the ice for training this week.

Forward Danny Meyers is giving cause for concern as is unlikely to train but club physio Scott Poundall is confident the Great Britain internationalist can play in the first leg. Canadian hit-man Kevin Bergin is improving after being in hospital and is expected to get the all clear.