Video: Mixed weekend results mirror the season. And work to be done on face offs says Tom Barrasso

Tom Barrasso calls it a "mixed bag."

He could be referring to Sheffield Steelers' season, mirrored last weekend with a 6-5 home loss followed by a 6-1 road win, on top of a series of results which has put the team in an unflattering eighth position in the Elite League.

Jonas Westerling - and the art of a face off. Pic: Dean Woolley

Jonas Westerling - and the art of a face off. Pic: Dean Woolley

In fact, on this occasion, the head coach was describing his team's performance on face-offs, which are deemed critical to puck possession time, particularly in your own defensive zone.

Barrasso says face-off performance under his reign (ten games) varies up and down the pad: "Our d-zone is lacking, our neutral zone is quite strong and our defensive zone has developed about even, I would say.

“We need to get better in the defensive zone to allow the opposition less offensive zone time” he said.

Losing face-offs below his own blue line, then, is clearly a concern - and it was noticeable that Barrasso switched centres for a defensive zone face off against Guildford Flames, on Saturday.

Matt Climie backstops Steelers at Dundee Stars. Pic by Derek Black

Matt Climie backstops Steelers at Dundee Stars. Pic by Derek Black

So that is one of the tasks that Barrasso has to try and get his team to improve on - just one, as there are plenty, despite the 6-1 win at Dundee Stars.

When the head coach arrived, Barrasso shared the popular view that this team was, like last season, strong defensively.

But despite winning at Dundee on Sunday, they had conceded 67 goals in 19 league games, worse than any other team, including bottom club Milton Keynes Lightning. 

League leaders Belfast Giants have conceded a league-low in 38 and Cardiff Devils – who have played four games fewer, 41.

Tom Barrasso

Tom Barrasso

Meanwhile, Steelers’ fans were surprised to see import winger Justin Buzzeo had been granted leave to attend a wedding in Canada, missing the two-weekend games.

The permission had been granted before the start of the season – but came at a time when he was playing some of his best hockey.

Barrasso said: "It was negotiated before my arrival here. It would have been something I would have been concerned about" he said. But the club showed good faith in holding "up their end of the bargain."

Meanwhile, the team boss applauded the debut performance of goalie Matt Climie in Scotland.

“Matt looked solid in goal. he looked as though he hadn’t missed any time out at all.

“He is very efficient handling the puck which is a tremendous asset for us in breaking pucks out of our zone”.