Smith: Every game's like the play-offs for us now
DEFENCEMAN Jeff Smith says his side must treat all their last 15 games as play-off matches – if they want to finish in the Elite League's top eight.
The Rapid Solicitors Stingrays are bottom of the table, six points adrift of the play-off places.
And failure to take points in this weekend's back-to-back clashes with Dundee and against Braehead next Wednesday could see the molehill become a mountain to climb.
Smith said: "It's huge for us, it's almost like a play-off weekend. It's like we are down three games to nothing in a series of seven and we need to win both to stay alive.
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"We have to think of them as play-off games, and have a do or die mentality for the rest of the year, because it is."
Stingrays have beaten Dundee once in four attempts this season, and triumphed once in five clashes against Braehead.
Although three of those nine matches have been decided by shoot-outs, the balance of power lies with the Scottish outfits.
"We need the four points this weekend. If we don't get them we are further in the basement with less games to go," said Smith.
"This is probably the biggest weekend for the squad. It's almost a do or die situation.
"If we can get four or six points from these three games at least we will be moving in the right direction."
Stingrays will be up against it this weekend.
Having taken the decision to axe under-achieving Janis Ozolins – who joined tonight's visitors Dundee – Stingrays were hit by a season-ending injury to Cale Tanaka, who suffered a broken wrist against Belfast.
Although Stingrays requested the Elite League review the challenge, no further action was taken as it was deemed the interference minor penalty was insufficient.
To add insult to injury, Canadian Ryan Hand is ruled out tonight after totting up his sixth 10-minute misconduct penalty of the season.
It means Stingrays' third line is now the weakest it has been all season, putting pressure on the club's big players to produce the goods.
"We've got to dig in and work for it now," said Smith.
"Before we could run three lines with two imports on our third line.
"That's not saying there's anything wrong with our current third line, but it's not as strong as it was before.
"You look at Braehead, for instances, before he went home, Drew Miller was on it. That's an NHL player on a third line!"
Despite a run of only four wins from their last 20 games, Smith feels Stingrays are not playing as badly as their results suggest.
He says Stingrays played well in Belfast to lose only 5-4 and believes the defeat against Coventry was not as bad as the 7-2 scoreline indicated.
He said: "We played alright in Belfast, but there's not much you can do when Robby Sandrock shoots at 100 miles an hour. No goalie in this league could have stopped them. I've not seen shooting like that since I played in North America.
"Besides that we played okay, and we scored on our chances, but other teams like Dundee, Fife, Braehead and Edinburgh are beating the Nottinghams, Coventrys and Belfasts and we aren't.
"We have to start winning those one-goal games.
"We had a few bad bounces against Coventy, I didn't think it was a 7-2 game. It was one of those things. If it could go wrong it did, we had no gas.
"Against Erhardt Conference teams you can't have games like that.
"That whole division will hurt you when you have a slow or bad night."
GB's hopes of reaching the 2014 Winter Olympics were ended by a 4-2 defeat by France, having opened with a 6-2 loss to hosts Latvia in the Olympic qualifying tournament.