Cardiff Devils may be the top of the League, but it’s Belfast Giants that pose the bigger threat to Sheffield Steelers’ mission to win the title for the third consecutive time.
Second place Giants - who won back-to-back games at Sheffield Arena last month - are on a six match winning streak.
And Sheffield coach Paul Thompson - preparing for Wednesday’s visit of Fife Flyers - says they are the team that concerns him most.
“They are form team, there is no question about that” he said. “They are more consistent than us and Cardiff right now. Everybody is talking about Cardiff but Belfast did a job on us - they were at their best and we didn’t play to our level - and I see them as the biggest threat.”
Thompson, though, believes his side can mount a charge over the remaining 15 games.
The arrival of new import winger Geoff Walker, 29, brings extra firepower and strength up front - he debuts against Fife.
“I expect this to be a quality player joining a quality team” said Thompson.
“He is a goalscorer and a big body (6ft 3ins) so he’ll add to our offence and be a key on the Power Play for us. He’ll bring a bit of everything, hits, goals and making plays.
“His numbers throughout his career have been strong and hopefully he’ll carry that on.”
I can’t see Thompson disrupting the Fretter-Roy and Dowd-Nelson combinations, so it is possible Walker will pop up on the third rotation, with John Armstrong at centre and Guillaume Desbiens on the opposite wing - if the latter is fit to play.
Fife must be beaten - not just this week but on Sunday, February 26 when they meet again.
“It won’t be easy” warns Thompson. “I think they are the best team in their Conference and have chalked up win after win. Those guys are good.”
Last Sunday, Fife were 3-1 down to Nottingham with two and a half minutes to go - they took the game into overtime and won 4-3 at Fife Ice Arena.
Steelers have played twice so far, winning 4-1 and 4-2 in October.
Those wins took Sheffield to third in the league for the first time back then - and they have stayed there most of the time since.