Steelers’ fans may well have to be pragmatic about their team's results and chances of silverware this year, club legend Ron Shudra believes.
He isn't counting Sheffield out of the Play Offs but says there has to be some realism about the side currently sitting in seventh place in the 11-team EIHL.
Shudra, a keen observer of home games this season, had not expected the team to have suffered the bouts of inconsistencies they have,
"On paper, the players they brought in from the beginning had got ability, high standards and the statistics were there to see" he said. "Sometimes though you can have ability and skills but everybody is not focused on the same page.
“Sheffield has been in striking range of many of the games they’ve lost this season but maybe, defensively, everyone has not dialled into a five-man defensive system (as coach Tom Barrasso has also suggested.)
"But every team has their ups and downs. Cardiff Devils might have had a great two or three years but they and Belfast Giants have had times in the past when they’ve struggled. There could be many reasons, injuries, sickness bugs, lines not gelling, or maybe the spark suddenly isn't there. All clubs go through it; perhaps it's just year for Sheffield."
Steelers’ rhythm hasn't been helped by the extraordinary number players coming in and out of the squad since the Summer transformation and subsequent tweaking.
Of the first year Steelers that have stayed the course, Shudra has a soft spot for Tanner Eberle.
"He brings a lot of dynamics to the game, whether he is on top of the goalie or the forecheck, his intensity level is up there in every game. He is always capable of igniting something."
Shudra said Eberle’s style reminded him of that energy brought by famed Plommer-Cranston-Millie line.
"Anybody with that speed and grit between their teeth will give d-men nightmares" he said.
*’Rocket’ Ron Shudra played 626 games for Steelers and is rightly credited for his huge contribution in helping ice hockey carve itself a niche in the Sheffield sporting landscape.