Shields: Giants need to show some steel against Sheffield
Colin Shields wants the Belfast Giants to get mean as they prepare to face the biggest test of the season so far.
The Giants have been nothing if not entertaining since Adam Keefe was installed as coach.
They have taken on something of the style of Newcastle United under Kevin Keegan in the mid-1990s, with goals flowiing at both ends of the ice.
So far Keefe's men have banged in 24 goals in their five games this season. In contrast, however, they have conceded 21, having to score six times to seal a win in Edinburgh in their most recent game last Sunday.
With a huge home and away double-header against the Sheffield Steelers this weekend followed by a trip to the Nottingham Panthers on Wednesday night Shields - who is the Giants all-time record goalscorer - says it's time to get tight.
"I don't really know if that's our strategy - to go out and just make sure we score more than the other team," said Shields.
"We do have a lot of offensive players this year, both in the back and up front and a lot of guys that are new to the league.
"We are still working on things, it's early on and we're still trying to iron out a few things here and there defensively, but that will come.
"We have a good squad from top to bottom, good balance in the lines, a good set of defencemen and two great goaltenders too.
"We're leaking a few goals here and there, but not necessarily through individual mistakes, but team mistakes.
"We have to learn new systems and play more as a team.
"That will come, it's early days and it's definitely not time to hit the panic button, that's for sure."
Sheffield currently lead the early Elite League table, with five points from three games so far.
The Giants are still finding their form and with two Challenge Cup wins last weekend the momentum is starting to role.
Having been part of a Belfast Giants team in the past that missed out on a league title by a single point Shields knows how crucial every game is and that's why this weekend's clashes are taking on great importance.
"We've only played two league games so far, but anyone who follows the league knows that any league points are valuable," he said.
"Against the other top teams you're looking to split or better. Against the teams in our conference you're trying to at least go four and four or better than that. I thought we did a good job last year against Sheffield in our series, a good job against Nottingham and Cardiff was the only one of those series that we lost.
"We'll be looking to make our mark on that right off the bat.
"It's going to be a big test for us."