The Definitive Play-Off Weekend Preview 2011


The Cat’s Whiskers proudly presents the definitive play-off preview, looking at the parties on Friday, the games on Saturday and all weather, parking and travel information for the weekend.

PLAY-OFF PARTIES

There are two parties on Friday night in two very familiar places. Firstly, The Castle public house next to the Arena are having a party with a free BBQ starting at (I believe) 6.30pm.

Also, the Bunkers Hill Inn will be having a Play-Off eve party. Both upstairs and downstairs bars will be open and there will be drinks offers on the night. The fun starts at 7.30pm until late.

TRANSPORT & PARKING

For those travelling to Nottingham on Saturday, the car parks near the NIC are the NCP at Stoney Street (if you’ve got deep pockets!) and the Council Car Park at Fletcher Gate. Do not use the street parking meters on Saturday as the maximum you can park is 2 hours up to 6pm, on Sunday there are no restrictions. If you plan on parking all weekend the best offer is at the Metro Car Park which is approximately a 10 minute walk from the NIC, £20 for the weekend, that’s arriving at anytime on Friday and leaving by Midnight on Sunday. If you plan on using the tram, there are five park and ride sites around Nottingham, a day ticket costs £3.00 for tram only and £3.20 for tram & bus. You need to leave the tram at the Lace Market stop, which is a five minute walk from the NIC. If you are planning on leaving your car in any of the park and ride sites overnight you do so at your own risk. There are CCTV camera’s but to be perfectly honest I wouldn’t advise it!

The weather forecast for the weekend looks to be fair but with a chance of rain on Sunday. BBC 5 day forecast for Nottingham.

Finally on to the games themselves, which is what we’re all here for after all (and the alcohol!)

SHEFFIELD STEELERS v NOTTINGHAM PANTHERS 1pm face off

TCW Live coverage of Steelers v Panthers starting at 12.45pm

A nice quiet game to start off with then! This one will be huge and while both teams will be desperate to win, at the same time neither team will want to lose. After all the shenanigans with naughty words as Steelers won the title this should be a cracker. Panthers will need no motivation and should be full of confidence after two excellent victories over Braehead in the quarter final, while the Steelers made what looked like a straight forward passage into the weekend very difficult with defeat in Dundee.
The game could come down to the netminders. Panthers received a huge boost this week when netminder Craig Kowalski was announced as returning for the 2001/12 season. His form has been excellent and he has the ability to win a match on his own. He goes into the game high on confidence after a shut-out last Saturday and I believe he will be Panthers key man in this game.
The Steelers key to victory will be their quite outstanding defence keeping out the threat from Panthers potent forwards. If Panthers can get shots on Ervins Mustukovs and take advantage of the inevitable rebounds, they will score goals. The question is can the new found defensive systems of the Panthers keep out the likes of Legue, Talbot and Tait at the other end?
I’m expecting it to be a very close match which will do the blood pressure of both sides supporters no good, however if the Panthers could give them a good old fashioned beating I will be most happy! 😉

CARDIFF DEVILS v BELFAST GIANTS 5pm face off

TCW Live coverage of Devils v Giants starting at 4.45pm

After the game that is too close to call we have the game that is, er, too close to call! A replay of the 2010 Play-Off final which went to penalty shots. I reckon there’s a chance it could take penalties to separate the sides once again.
Devils had a comfortable victory over the Hull Stingrays to qualify for the weekend and keep up their record of qualifying for every play-off finals weekend in the Elite League era.
Giants qualified by the skin of their Guinness soaked teeth on penalty shots after two draws with Coventry Blaze. Interestingly, the Giants have not won a play-off game in their last four attempts but are the current holders and have qualified for the weekend! Bizarre fact (or not!)
The form of the netminders will be the key to winning this game and I’d have to give Giants Stephen Murphy the slight edge over his Devils counterpart Stevie Lyle. I also believe that Giants have the stronger defence but the Devils have the better forwards and also the league’s best player (IMO) in Craig Weller.
Again this should be another cracker and one I am very much looking forward to as a neutral fan.

As for the final, I confidently predict it will be Steelers or Panthers v Devils or Giants!

Enjoy the weekend 🙂

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