Playoff quarter-final preview
Genting Casino Coventry Blaze go into their Playoff quarter-final series with Elite League Champions, the Sheffield Steelers looking to make history as the first number eight seed to qualify for the final-four weekend in Nottingham.
As first seed, Sheffield chose to host the second-leg (5pm tomorrow) which sees Coventry play the first-leg on home ice this evening, 7pm face-off at the Skydome Arena.
Having home advantage first or second in a Playoff quarter-final though doesn’t appear to make much difference in progression to the final four if past history is anything to go by. In the 36 previous two-leg Elite League Playoff quarter-finals since the format was introduced, teams at home in the first-leg have made the semi-finals 17 times, with teams away from home in the first-leg making the final four on 19 occasions.
Winning the first-leg however gives you a noticeably greater chance of progression to the semi-finals. In the 36 previous two-leg Elite League Playoff quarter-finals, the teams winning the first leg have made the semi-finals 24 times.
This weekend will see Coventry and Sheffield face each other for the eleventh and twelfth time this season, with Blaze having won six of the previous ten and Steelers the other four, including two in the Challenge Cup.
In the five meetings in Coventry, the Blaze have won four and the Steelers one. In Sheffield over the five games, the Steelers have prevailed three times and Coventry twice.
Sheffield have scored the first goal in six of the ten meetings, going on to win four and losing two. Coventry have won all of the four games when they have scored first – two in regulation and two on penalty shots.
Blaze average 23 shots in games between the teams this season and score on every 9.2 shots. The Steelers average a much higher 37 shots but only score on every 12.8 shots.
Coventry netminder Brian Stewart is your 'One to Watch' having posted an outstanding 92.41% save-percentage and 2.76 goals against average in the 10 games against Sheffield this season. In the Steelers' net, Marek Pinc’s goals against average in 6 games against Blaze is 2.98, whilst his save-percentage is 85.83%.
Blaze average 26.7 penalty minutes, whilst the Steelers average a slightly lower 24.6 when the two have faced each other. Coventry’s powerplay is 10.5% over the 10 games (4 from 38), whilst Sheffield’s is 15.5% (9 from 58).
Brett Robinson is Coventry’s top point and goal scorer in games between the two, with 5 goals and 5 assists (10pts), Jim Jorgensen and Jordan Pietrus are joint-second with 8 points each. Ben O’Connor is Sheffield’s top point scorer with 3 goals and 5 assists (8pts), Mathieu Roy is second with 7 points. Tyler Mosienko and Mathieu Roy are the Steelers’ highest goal scorers in Blaze/Steelers games this season with 4 each.
The clubs have previously met seven times in the Elite League Playoffs, with the overall record reading as 4 Sheffield wins and 3 Coventry wins. The last meeting of course came in the 2015 final when Blaze won their second Playoff title with a 4-2 win.
In nine previous two-leg Elite League Playoff quarter-finals, Coventry have qualified for the semi-finals on six occasions (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015) and missed out in three (2011, 2012, 2014). In those nine, Coventry have played the first leg at home four times and prevailed as winners twice.
Sheffield have qualified for the semi-finals on five occasions (2008, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2015) and missed out in four (2007, 2010, 2012, 2013).
In regards team news, Colton Fretter is expected to play for Sheffield following a lengthily lay-off through injury. Both Paul Thompson and Chuck Weber will be required to sit out one import from their roster.
A limited number of seated tickets are still available for tonight's first-leg at the Skydome Arena (7pm) and they can be purchased ONLINE or by calling 02476 630693 (option 0) - standing tickets are freely available (click ST block if booking online).
If you are unable to join us, we offer an excellent webcast service via Clean Cut Sports for a price of just £8. Ed Kimberley and Stu Coles will be on commentary. PURCHASE HERE.
We also offer a Twitter match-night update service via @covblazelive
Full details of everying going on at our final home game of the 2015/16 season can be found, here.
Genting Casino Coventry Blaze would like to place on record our huge thanks to Matthew Hood who has supplied all of the above facts and statistics. His level of detail, commitment and ability to provide us with such detailed information throughout the season has been extremely valuable to the clubs increased media output.