AFTER clocking up around 1800 miles in a week, Fife Flyers return to Kirkcaldy for a home double-header this weekend.
Defeats in Cardiff, Belfast and Sheffield extended Flyers’ losing streak to seven games, and leaves them six points behind Edinburgh Capitals in the race for the play-offs.
With Sheffield Steelers visiting Fife Ice Arena on Saturday, followed by Nottingham Panthers on Sunday, player-coach Todd Dutiaume (pictured left) hopes to make home advantage count against yet more tough opposition.
“We’ve been doing a lot of travelling lately so this weekend gives our guys a chance to sleep in their own beds, and recharge the batteries,” he said.
“Hopefully that will help us come out and give two big performances.
“The guys don’t want to be looking back at the end of the season with any what ifs. We want to come out and make a statement this weekend.
“They know the games we’ve identified as must-wins, but we’ve got to look to pick off these top teams if we want to catch Edinburgh.”
Dutiaume has been left frustrated by his team’s lack of goals with Kirkcaldy forward Steven Gunn the only player to find the net in each of the last two games.
“We need more offence from our top line imports,” Dutiaume said.
“That’s why they are here and the pressure is on them to deliver the goals.
“I’m hard on our British defenceman in training because I know they can do it – and I pounce on their mistakes.
“But we’re also working hard on our offence, and the question I’m asking guys is how badly do they want it?
“If you look at other teams guys are jumping hard to get the puck in our net, whereas too many times we’re guilty of shying away.
“A punch to the head, or a cross-check to the back is a small price to pay to earn a goal for the team. We’ve got to suck it up.”
Assistant-coach Danny Stewart re-iterated the need for more goals
He added: “It doesn’t matter who the goalie is, we preach having traffic in front of the opposition net, and going to the net every game so we make it tough on opposing goalies.
“As for executing that, we need a lot more consistency and determination to get to those dirty areas, especially when we are struggling to score as we are.”
Dutiaume admitted that with 11 games left Flyers will need a drastic change in fortuntes to claim a play-off spot, but he has backed his players to give it their best shot.
“It’s a big ask to make the play-offs” he said.
“We’re asking guys to go on a run and win some big games.
“They can really either go for it over the next month, or let the season peter out, but the way the guys are acting tells me it’s something they definitely want to go for.
“Hopefully people will see big performances over the coming weeks, starting this weekend.”