Fife Flyers’ weekend performances have convinced head coach Todd Dutiaume that his team is now in play-off mode.
Flyers followed an impressive 5-0 home win over Hull Stingrays with another good performance in the 3-1 defeat away to Cardiff Devils on Sunday, running the championship challengers to the wire in their own rink.
Recent results have left Flyers clinging onto sixth place in the Elite League with their play-off position now coming under severe pressure from the teams below them.
Dutiaume is confident, however, that his team can still make the top eight - if they show the same appetite they did at the weekend.
“For the entire weekend the guys really played like the team we want them to be - and need to be - to have any success in the play-offs,” he said.
“Cardiff are competing for the title for a reason - especially in their own building - but we went down and took the play to them for big portions of the game.
“It was tough to have no points to show for it, but there were certainly some positives.
“It was a play-off performance and it’s important that we remain in that mode.
“We’re still in great shape if we take care of our games - but we need to take care of them.
“There have been some unexpected results and teams are all beating each other, which is the sign of a good league.
“We just need to be the hottest team at the end of the day.”
On-form Edinburgh Capitals visit Fife Ice Arena this Saturday for a match that could have a huge bearing on both club’s play-off aspirations.
Caps are currently just outside the top eight, but a run of five wins in six has taken them to within three points of the Fifers with two games in hand.
Flyers have a formidable home record against Caps - losing just once in three seasons - but Dutiaume warned that the past will count for little this weekend.
“We won’t look at our past record because Edinburgh have really come onto a game,” he said.
“But we’ve come alive ourselves in this last couple of weeks and are starting to play the hockey we want to be playing.
“We’ll look at this as a play-off game, and have short term goals of playing smart hockey for a period at a time.
“There’s positivity in the camp and the guys are confident they can beat any team in the league.”
Flyers then travel west to face EIHL title-chasing Braehead Clan on Sunday.
Clan wrapped up the Gardiner Conference title at the weekend and while Dutiaume congratulated his rivals on a deserved win, he feels Flyers may have ran them closer were it not for injuries and suspensions.
“You’ve got to give them credit - they had a slow start but since then they’ve stayed consistent week in, week out and they certainly deserved to win the conference,” he said.
“From our perspective it’s disappointing we didn’t given them a harder run at it, but I really feel that we have an excellent hockey team in our room.
“The difference between being mid-to-bottom table and up near the top is consistency, which Braehead have managed to find.
“We’ve struggled with that, but it hasn’t always been down to our play all the time.
“Yes, there’s games we’ve let slip away but the number of injuries and suspensions we’ve had has put a huge strain on the guys.
“When you’re not at full quota for a significant length of time you do find inconsistencies - and that’s been a big part of our season.
“Barring Kyle Horne, we had our full quota at the weekend and we produced two good displays of hockey.
“When we run three full lines and all our D-men are out there we don’t get fatigued and we’re not such a one-dimensional hockey team.
“With a full roster we’re a much better club.”