Long calls on Giants to put lessons to good use
Another week, yet it's the same message coming from the Belfast Giants' changing room yet again - that things will improve if only they can find some consistency.
The problem is that consistency is in short supply, as it has been all season. The Giants have strung together three consecutive wins only once since early November and are currently seven points adrift of Elite League leaders the Sheffield Steelers.
They do have two games in hand over their rivals, which eases concerns a little, while the inconsistency throughout the league is keeping them in contention, but the Giants' inability to back up their best performances has been a recurring theme of a rollercoaster campaign.
If ever there was a weekend that summed up their season to date, it was the one just gone by, the Giants dominating in every facet in defeating the Coventry Blaze 4-1 at the SSE Arena on Saturday, only to somehow collapse to a defeat by the same scoreline to the same team at the same venue one day later.
The source of their issues isn't lost on the team, and having to trot out the same lines post-match is no more enjoyable to them as the games themselves.
British forward Ciaran Long, who dropped the gloves with Justin Hamonic in Sunday's 4-1 loss, said: "We have had our consistent games, we just need to find those a bit more often.
"We need to be ready for teams to come back, especially in the double-headers when we win the first one because the other team will be hurting.
"We just need to keep working hard, particularly in practice, and then try to show up to the rink and do the same thing. I have confidence in the boys, I still think come the end of the year we'll be in the mix."
The hope is that a full week's practice after a run of eight games in 15 days will help provide some respite to a fatigued roster ahead of what could very well be a must-win game against the league-leading Steelers at the SSE Arena on Friday.
While a loss wouldn't end their hopes of retaining their title, the Giants know that a nine-point deficit would be a lot to claw back.
"The boys are a little banged up, but that's the game. That's what we're all here for," insisted winger Long. "The game against Sheffield is pretty much a four-point game. We know they're a strong team offensively but we'll be prepared for them."