1: Goaltending: Ervins Mustukovs is a cold-eyed, ruthless winner. The competition to be labelled as the best in the Elite League was super-keen, this year. But his save percentage ratio topped everybody else’s. So, case closed, then. Pretty much.
2: Big game hunters: Steelers have prizefighters in their ranks, players who love major occasions. Belfast have them too, to be fair. But watch out for Sheffield forwards like Robert Dowd and Colton Fretter and roaming d-man Ben O’Connor when the stakes are raised at their highest. Okey junior gets my vote here as the deciding factor. But then, I am biased.
3: Some players like Rod Sarich will be signing off their Steeler career. They’ll want to go out with a bang. Others will be playing for a new contract. Yes, it might be the same for Giants. But, hey, fingers crossed.
4: And end to turbulence: Steelers have had to cope with the loss of Tyler Mosienko and Christoffer Bjorklund at odd and opposite ends to the season. There is no question that their unwanted moves overseas unbalanced Sheffield and caused inconsistency in results. But other than a bad 10 minutes in the quarter final first leg, they now are playing with authority and understanding. Trust me.
5: Work ethic: Fair play: Belfast are known for their’s. But from a Steelers’ perspective, now the hard graft shown by players like Markus Nilsson, Jonathan Phillips and Guillaume Desbiens is being converted into telling goals and assists. Let that continue for two more games. (Please.)
6: Belfast were a point better than Steelers over 52 games. So, there was a miniscule difference between them. Advantage Belfast, but it will count for nothing on Saturday. The Challenge Cup final and final Elite League standings, though, were different. Steelers have to accept they were outworked and outperformed over both series by Cardiff Devils. They will need to address that by giving a better account of themselves against both teams, should the English and Welsh sides reach Sunday’s final. It’s all about character. Leading to...
7: Plain grit and cussedness. Most of the NIC fans will be aligned against Sheffield - Nottingham Panthers supporters will be on loan to Belfast on Saturday. This should bring out the best in Steeler firebrands like Zack Fitzgerald and Levi Nelson, as long as they don’t give away daft penalties.
8: Mathieu Roy. Steelers primary offensive asset. Simply the best. He didn’t score last weekend. He’s hungry. Feed Roy and the goals will come. #Fingerscrossed