Cardiff Devils are facing a mini crisis and head coach Andrew Lord says: “It’s evident there are players who are way too comfortable.”
Lord’s men are on Tayside this afternoon looking to bounce back from crushing 5-1 Elite League defeat against Fife Flyers.
What is going wrong? Are Devils players feeling complacent or have opposing coaches worked out how to nullify Lord’s systems?
Cardiff did a solid job in the Champions Hockey League, but they scrambled into the Challenge Cup quarter-finals in undignified fashion and have looked far too sloppy at times.
They have talent, character and drive, underlining that by recovering from three goals down to beat Coventry Blaze in midweek, but evidence suggests that some players feel they can switch those assets on and off at will.
Devils lacked hunger, fight and desire at crucial times against Fife, who were a team struggling to find form.
If that is the case – and in my heart I can’t believe it is – the outcome will be disastrous In terms of challenging for trophies this season.
Flyers flight to victory was led by former Devils players Paul Crowder, who scored a hat-trick, and James Livingston, who netted once.
Those goals make this defeat even more painful for Cardiff.
“It’s evident there are players on our team who are feeling way too comfortable,” says Lord. “There were sloppy changes, we fell 2-0 down and brought the crowd into it.
“That’s what happens when we don’t start in the way we need to. In the second period we dominated and we’re all over them.
“Too little, too late and then we gave a couple of easy goals away.
“We all have to bring it every night, that is part of the deal of being in our organisation. We’ve been through this a number of times and need to find a response here.”
Flyers led by two after 20 minutes. Crowder opened the scoring after only 58 seconds, followed by Kyle Just’s powerplay effort at 7-08.
Joey Haddad pulled one back for the Devils at 14-16, but Livingston made it 3-1 at 17-35.
The middle period saw three powerplay chances for Devils, but they couldn’t find a way past goalie Adam Morrison. Then, at 38-18 with their first powerplay chance of the period, Flyers converted with Crowder scoring.
Crowder completed his treble at 49-09.
Devils were again without Sam Jardine, who completed his two-match suspension by sitting out the game in Fife and will be back on the ice at Dundee today (5pm).
Forward Matt Pope was rested again and Lord will have to sit out one import player this afternoon.
The next home match for Devils is against Sheffield Steelers at the Viola Arena in Cardiff Bay next Saturday (7pm).
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Scorers, Flyers: Paul Crowder 3+0, James Livingston 1+0, Kyle Just 1+0, Carlo Finucci 0+3, Mike Cazzola 0+1, Dylan Quaile 0+2, Michal Gutwald 0+1, Danica Gauthier 0+1, Tim Crowder 0+1
Devils: Joey Haddad 1+0, Joey Martin 0+1, Sean McMonagle 0+1
Period scores (Flyers first): 3-1; 1-0 (4-1); 1-0 (5-1)
Penalties in minutes: Flyers 4+8+0=12; Devils 4+2+4=10
Powerplays: Fife 5, Cardiff 6
Man of the match: Joey Haddad
Referees: Tom Pering, Steve Brown
Cardiff Devils team
Goalies: Ben Bowns (back-up Thomas Murdy
First line: Mark Richardson, Gleason Fournier, Blair Riley, Joey Martin, Sean Bentivoglio
Second line: Bryce Reddick, Mark Louis, Masi Marjamaki, Mike McNamee, Charles Linglet
Third line: Josh Batch, Sean McMonagle, Joey Haddad, Stephen Dixon, Matias Sointu
Fourth line: Sam Duggan, Matthew Myers