We must be wary of hurt Devils, warns ace Connolly
Brendan Connolly is anticipating a Cardiff Devils team that will take on the role of the wounded animal against the Belfast Giants tonight.
The Giants' leading points scorer believes that the defending Elite League champions will be on a revenge mission after losing a dramatic game to the Belfast men, who took the points on a 5-3 scoreline, in Wales a month ago.
That was an eventful game for Connolly, who as well as providing a couple of assists was then in a fight with Cardiff's Justin Faryna. He is expecting the Devils to come out fighting - if not literally.
The Giants will be ready to battle too, with Adam Keefe's men determined to keep their current six-game winning streak going - a run that has taken them to within two points of the top of the table - with a trip to Dundee to come tomorrow too.
"We've put ourselves in a pretty good position, but we still have a bunch of road games coming up and we still have to take care of business," said Connolly, who was named as Elite League Player of the Week last weekend after a goal and five assists in two games.
"It seems like in this league every game gets more and more important. These games mean so much with the regular season title being as important as it is.
"Cardiff is going to be a very big game. We're happy to get it at home and play against them at home.
"I am sure they are going to have a chip on their shoulder because we beat them in Cardiff, so that's going to be an excellent game.
"You can never look past anyone in this league so we're going to have to go into Dundee and get the job done.
"The parity in this league, there are a lot of quality teams who may not look great in the standings, but I don't think there are any easy games out there."
The Giants have hit top form despite suffering a number of absentees.
Cole Jarrett and Dustin Johner returned to action last weekend, the former scoring in Fife, but goaltender Stephen Murphy, defensive pair Jeff Mason and Spiro Goulakos and forward Kevin Raine all missed out.
Jim Vandermeer recently returned from injury, but he misses this weekend's two games through suspension after an incident in Dundee last Friday.
Connolly has been impressed with how his team-mates have stepped up in the face of adversity to put the Giants in a position where they can become even stronger when the injured stars return.
"It's always tough when you lose guys and you are playing short on bodies, but guys have stepped up, there are a lot of guys who are playing in some different roles, getting more and more opportunities and they have made the most of them," said Connolly.
"We don't want to be in this position, those guys who are out are important players to us and when we do get them back we're happy that we've put ourselves in a position where we're competing for the top spot and when we get those guys back we'll be feeling really good."