Belfast Giants attack fear as Walser shuffles pack
Derrick Walser is concerned that the Belfast Giants' lack of numbers will blunt his team's firepower, just when they need it the most.
With two huge clashes against the Sheffield Steelers within the next five days - first in Belfast tonight before they clash in Yorkshire on Saturday - Walser was planning to go all guns blazing against a team the Giants have lost to five times in six meetings this season.
The problem for the Giants player-coach is that he is facing the prospect of going into the game without four players and although only two of them are forwards, the knock-on effect will be felt in his inability to send four full-strength lines into attack.
Defenceman Matt Nickerson remains out and will probably miss another six weeks. He has been joined on the injury list by star forward Chris Higgins and Walser himself has missed the last three games.
Craig Peacock, who has impressed when moved from wing to centre in recent weeks, had to sit out Sunday's defeat against the Nottingham Panthers.
Late calls will be made by Walser, who has to drop an import anyway to join Nickerson in the stands and whatever happens Mark Garside is likely to continue in a defensive role, where he has looked comfortable since dropping back from the forward line.
"In every league, every individual team always seems to come up against another that always has their number," said Walser.
"For us this season that team has been Sheffield. We've got to try to get that back and we have two opportunities here to do that - I just hope that we are healthy enough to put up a good fight."
The recent capture of David Rutherford was meant to give Walser four strong lines, but injuries have hit that plan.
"If we have everyone healthy we'd be able to roll four lines and distribute our scoring power a little bit more," said Walser.
"In the last three games against Sheffield they've managed to shut down one line and one line can't carry you against a team like that. You need one other strong line that can do damage.
"The difference between Sheffield and other teams is that they have other lines with a lot of firepower.
"We don't have that, but it's something that David Rutherford coming in has helped us with.
"We have a line of Jonathan Boxill, Adam Keefe and Darryl Lloyd who have been really good lately."