Zack Fitzgerald believes Sheffield Steelers’ defence has not been weakened by the departure of top ‘plus-minus’ operator Christoffer Björklund.
The Swede might have had the best statistics in the squad but the blue line corps has barely missed a beat since he quit the club.
Fitzgerald said he thought the Sheffield ‘D’ was as effective now as it was when Björklund was around.
“We have got a couple of injuries, which is unfortunate, but Roddy (Sarich) comes in and is super-reliable, steady and a good locker room guy in general” he said.
“He is good for the team overall. He made an impact on the guys when we found out he is coming back.
“There was a roar in the room, we knew it is going to be exciting, we loved having him around and our D is solid, we have guys that can put up points and guys that can shut it down.
“You never want to see anybody leave, but we’ll be alright.”
Sheffield will need a rock-solid defence on Saturday for the visit of Nottingham Panthers, who would love to undermine Steelers’ late season push.
“Nottingham will be looking to take our chance away at this league title” said the American.
“We have taken a lot of points away from them and obviously the rivalry is going to be big and they are going to want to put a dent in our season. But those are the games you get excited for, you get fired up for. There’s a big crowd, the adrenaline is going, you want to beat those guys. I wouldn’t say it will be an easy task but it’s one we’ll be up for.”
Fitzgerald is delighted with his side’s form.
“We have been on a roll, winning a lot of games. There are a few over the season we’d like back and we are in a tough position. We can’t worry about anybody else, we just have to keep rolling. Keep things going, keep our confidence.”
As for league leaders Cardiff Devils, Fitzgerald said: “They have to come here twice, we will be hungry to beat them.”
He added: “They don’t have an easy final run-in to the end of the season. And neither do we. We just have to stay on pace and keep things going.
“I know we can beat those guys” he said pointing out a couple of refereeing calls down at Cardiff that “should have gone our way.”