If Sheffield Steelers’ pursuit of a league championship falls at the final fence, then shots on goal – or a lack of them – will be a principal reason for that failure.
So says bench coach Neil Abel, who wants to see shots rain down on Belfast Giants tonight in a stand-off which could determine the destination of the title.
“We have been outshot in too many periods, too many games,” says the Scot, whose side has just four league games left.
“In the first period at Nottingham Panthers last Saturday, we were 13-6 down on shots. Maybe the boys are trying to make that last pass or are being unselfish, but the fact is we need to get shots on goal and crash the net. If you don’t shoot the puck, you don’t score.”
On February 24, Steelers were outshot 13-7 in one period against Hull Stingrays and in the previous two encounters with Cardiff Devils, they were out-sniped again, although that fact alone did not influence the results, as Sheffield won.
In the two games before that, Steelers were outgunned against Braehead Clan in every period, recording just 15 efforts on goal all night. And the Nottingham game before that was a similar story, with Sheffield getting in a meagre three shots to 10 in the opening 20 minutes. “Maybe we’re trying too hard or being too fancy,” said Abel. “But that musy change if we’re going to win tonight.”
He will be hoping the likes of ex NHLer Rob Globke – one strike in 13 outings – can get a goal or two, especially now the American is back on the wing after playing at centre. “Rob frustrates me sometimes, he has bags of talent but he lets things like refereeing bother him,” said Abel. “I am bewildered sometimes when he is on the puck – but then leaves it to resist a challenge - rather than getting it deep, riding the hit, and getting on with things. And the British guys have to turn it up, everybody is the same at the moment,” said Abel, after his side’s three straight defeats.
One of the problems in their last game, at Nottingham, was an ineffective Power Play. “I think we were 0 for 9 and that isn’t good enough” said coach Ben Simon.
“We have made our living off the power play this year. We have to find a way to score 5 on 5 and not rely on the power play, then when one does come our way take advantage.”
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