Sheffield Steelers must snap a rare losing sequence this weekend against their main Elite League title rivals.
Steelers compete in an away and home series (Sat and Sun) against Cardiff Devils which could define where the championship trophy ends up.
It is a first versus second battle.
But while Sheffield are in the position everybody else aspires to, they have rarely displyed much superiority over Devils, this season.
Steelers have lost four of the six meetings so far.
They have been defeated in all three games in Wales and in their last encounter at Sheffield Arena were on the end of a drubbing.
It is hardly the form of would-be champions - but top points scorer Joey Talbot believes they can start making inroads into the deficit this weekend.
“Cardiff are a good club and when we failed to show up against them (7-1 loss in January) they took advantage of us. I don’t know whether we were nervous that night but we didn’t work as hard as we should have, didn’t finish our hits, weren’t first to the puck and perhaps a little timid in the corners. The frustration kicked in and that result was a real eye-opener.
“Normally we play well against them, even after jumping off the bus down there after a long journey.
“Their rink is set up for them perfectly size-wise, it is smaller than ours and suits their in-your-face mentality.
“What we have to do is to work hard and simplify the game - be willing to do the things that help you get a win.”
Talbot enjoys playing against Devils; he’s scored four against them so far.
Cardiff, the ‘other team’ owned by Steelers proprietor Paul Ragan, have scored 27 goals against Sheffield so far, a tally defensive-minded coach Ben Simon would prefer not to see extended this weekend.
Steelers and Devils are to stage a home and away ‘Festival of Hockey’ before the start of next season. It will celebrate Sheffield’s 20th year in existence and Devils’ 25 year anniversay.
Ron Shudra will skipper a Steelers Legends team - possibly including the likes of Ken Priestlay, Tim Cranston and Tommy Plommer - against a John Lawless side.