Sheffield Steelers: Aaron Fox begins to get the formula right
Aaron Fox has taken a step in the right direction in his search for the all-important elixir in ice hockey - getting the chemistry right between line-mates on any given night.
Sunday's controlled demolition of Coventry Blaze in their own rink suggested that players were understanding the needs of their partners and their own roles in a way they had not the night before, when they lost to the same opponents.
Coach Fox made a few tactical switches to his forward lines before the game and continued to vary his options during the eventual 4-1 win.
Interestingly, he split up Nikolai Lemtyugov and Martin St. Pierre, who struggled together in Saturday's 6-4 reverse at the Arena.
Fox wanted defensively-responsible players on their lines to limit Coventry's offensive thrust, with John Armstrong and Eric Meland doing precisely that.
Offensively, pitting Marc-Olivier Vallerand and Anthony DeLuca together on Midlands ice created all sorts of trouble for the home team.
"This time of the season is all about mixing and matching guys to see who should play together and who should not," Fox told The Star.
"It is early in the year and we have to figure out which combinations are likely to work the best.
"Vallerand was really, really good again and you could play him and Brendan Connolly with just about anybody" said the coach.
"Robert Dowd looks really strong with Armstrong, renewing the chemistry they had last year.
"As a process, every day and every week we will be figuring out a little bit more how things can work for the best."
The coach will have to fit back-from-suspension Michael Davies into the line-up next weekend, against Manchester Storm.
Meanwhile, Fox complimented winger Lemtyugov for standing up for his team-mates in a fight with Blaze forward and enforcer David Broll, on Sunday.
Initially, a Coventry player had run their goaltender, Tomas Duba, he said.
"Guys got into a scrum and Broll came in throwing his weight around and dropped the gloves. Nikolai went to have a word with him. Broll is a big, big boy and Nikolai did what he had to do to stand up for his team-mates."
Coventry coach Danny Stewart said he thought his team played better and created more clear-cut chances in their 1-4 loss than they had in the 6-4 win in Sheffield.
But he added: "Give a team like that chances and they are going to make you pay."