Belfast Telegraph

Giants starting to hit peak, warns Walser

By Stuart McKinley

Every Belfast Giants victory in recent weeks has sent out a statement to the rest of the Elite League as the title race grows more and more intense.

And now player-coach Derrick Walser has sent out another by declaring that his men are only now hitting their best form.

A run of 13 regulation time wins in their last 19 games, with just a single point dropped in the last six outings, has taken the Giants to within a single point of the Cardiff Devils at the top of the table and after back-to-back wins over the Sheffield Steelers last weekend, there is reason to believe Walser's theory that there is more to come from his team as crunch time looms.

"We are peaking at the right time and we are right in there," said Walser ahead of a Scottish double-header which starts away to Braehead Clan tonight followed by a trip to the Edinburgh Capitals tomorrow. "Even when we were 15 points behind, we never thought it was over.

"We're hunting Cardiff down and putting pressure on them. We are focusing on ourselves and I don't think we are showing any pressure - and I think that's the difference.

"Everything that we have done in the last couple of months is because of the players.

"They know that we have firepower and although we will have our ups and downs they have confidence that the firepower we have can get us out if any situation.

"We've been consistent, they know that every night it is about the two points. They are gelling well and I am really feeling it."

The secret of the Giants' hot form since early December has been their ability to put four strong lines on the ice every night.

Walser believes that while teams get to know each other's strengths and weaknesses throughout the season, his side are just too strong for the rest when on top of their game.

And that has been proven not just in the games against Sheffield, but also in league and Challenge Cup victories over the Devils and by beating the Nottingham Panthers, as well as a recent 6-0 thrashing of Dundee.

"Teams know how we play, but it's whether they can keep pace with us," said Walser. "We can have three full periods of three or four lines with lots of energy.

"We hunt the puck and we can go stop-start too when we feel the need to."

After this weekend, the Giants will really home in on the title as they have only two more away games before the season reaches its climax with a double-header in Cardiff at the end of March, which is shaping up to be the decisive weekend of the campaign.

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