Sheffield Steelers coach Paul Thompson supports the controversial notion that Braehead Clan have a decided advantage as the race hots up for the League title.
His club-mate David Simms has attracted criticism for claiming that Clan play most of their games in an inferior Conference, where competition is not as keen.
Now Thompson has weighed in. “They certainly have the easiest run-in” he said.
“They only have four cross-Conference games left so the title is pretty much in their hands.
“I would expect a betting man would put money on them, rather than anybody else. They haven’t had the injury problems we have had - I think our Conference has far more physical battles than their’s too. Manchester Storm and Edinburgh Capitals (who are also in the Gardiner conference) seem to have packed their bags. (Combined together, they have won nine games in regulation time, out of 40 and Caps are on a 10-game losing streak.)
“Don’t get me wrong, Braehead are a good team. And we are going to keep fighting to the end, But 100 per cent - they have the easiest run-in.”
This weekend, Steelers host Coventry Blaze on Saturday before playing a return game in the Midlands on Sunday.
While goalie Marek Pinc skated on Friday for the first time since his shoulder injury he is rated doubtful to return.
Almost as big an issue is that of winger Guillaume Desbiens, who has a broken thumb. He was originally told he could be out for six weeks, but it could be even longer.
Team-mate Rob Dowd says: “He is the perfect team-guy, always willing to get his nose dirty. We needed strength up front like we have at the back with Zack Fitzgerald and he provides that. We all hope he is back sooner rather than later.”