Belfast Giants set to get physical
Doug Christiansen will demand that his Belfast Giants team gets physical as they set about improving an already impressive record in Cardiff.
The Giants won all three league meetings with the Devils in the Welsh capital last season, but Christiansen is well aware that none of those points were gained easily.
And that's why he he is reminding his returning players and spelling out to the newcomers on the team just what is required to win in what he has branded ‘the toughest building in the Elite League.'
Few of the Giants' summer signings have experienced the Cardiff rink before, with its tight corners, low ceiling and inhospitable dressing room, with Scott Champagne being the exception from his time with the Nottingham Panthers.
So that means as well as having his team prepared tactically for tonight's contest, Christansen must have them ready to face possibly their toughest physical battle of the season.
“Cardiff is the toughest building in the league to play in — by far,” said Christiansen.
“You have to be committed to an absolute physical confrontation from the drop of the puck and if you're not willing to pay the price you are going to lose.
“That's why players like Adam Keefe and Darryl Lloyd are so important when we go there because it's a violent, tough, physical game.
“It's a very different game to what we have on the surface we have at the Odyssey; you have to rise to the occasion.
“It's about getting the guys to buy in and appreciate how difficult it is going to be before they get there and having a healthy appreciation for the team that is on the ice because they are a very good team.”
The Giants have taken at least a point from all four league outings so far, with Christiansen looking on the penalty shoot-out defeats to both Nottingham and Sheffield over the opening two weekends of the season as points gained, particularly after coming from 4-1 down against the Steelers on Sunday.
And he is more than happy to put points ahead of performance when facing the Devils.
“There is not an element of finesse in that rink; it is all about playing hard, playing physical, going into the dirty areas,” said Christiansen.
“Going to the net, crashing the net and being prepared to stand up for one another and stand up for the team.
“They will bring a physical onslaught and they will make themselves difficult to play against.
“They will hit everything that moves so our level of intensity has to match their level of intensity.
“And for us we have had a bit of success there, so we have to go in there with the confidence that we can do it again.”