The Cardiff Devils will take on the Coventry Blaze next weekend in the EIHL Playoff Quarter Finals.
Cardiff had already solidified their spot at the top of the table with their back-to-back league titles, but in this final week of league competition in the EIHL, the Devils could have either ended up facing the Blaze or the Braehead Clan in Scotland.
Braehead held the final playoff spot coming into Saturdays game but after a 3 – 1 loss to the Guildford Flames, it left the door wide open for the Blaze to strike, and after a 7 – 4 win over the second place Manchester Storm, they did just that moving one point ahead of the Clan.
While the shorter travel for their away leg of the Quarter-Finals may sound more appealing for traveling fans, and for the players themselves, it won’t be an easy ride for the Devils when they face Coventry next weekend.
Since the recent conference realignment in the EIHL, the former rivalry between Cardiff and Coventry has died down with less fixtures between the two sides, but despite the Devils dominance this year, Coventry have almost caught them slipping on more than one occasion.
Between both of the Devils potential opponents, Cardiff would have had the upper hand regardless.
In four games against Braehead this year, the Devils won all four contests, the first in a 5 – 0 blowout, a 6 – 4 win in mid December before two straight one goal wins to close out the season series.
Cardiff were drawn against the Blaze in the Challenge Cup group stage so they faced them more times, but like with Braehead the Devils picked up every win.
Out of the six games between the sides this year, only one game was decided by more than one goal, with the rest being much closer affairs.
Add into the mix that the Blaze in their last 10 games Coventry have picked up seven wins and the Blaze won’t be an easy task for Cardiff.
Cardiff took a big 8 – 1 win on Saturday night against the Belfast Giants as they look to pick up momentum ahead of next weekends playoffs.
The Devils have already confirmed their home leg will be on Sunday April 1st, while it’s not confirmed whether or not they’ll have to travel to Coventry on the Friday or Saturday.
Coventry have been crowned playoff champions twice in four finals appearances, while the Devils are still searching for their first playoff title, and have made the playoff finals weekend in Nottingham all but one-year since the EIHL formation in 2003, and they’ll hope that it doesn’t become a second time watching from home when they face Coventry next weekend.