After earning four of a possible six points in the standings last week, the Florida Everblades (11-9-2) enter the second week of their six-game homestand just three points out of first place in the ECHL's south division.
Every season is different due to call-ups and injuries, but the Everblades have done something no other team has since they made their debut in 1998 - made the playoffs every year. With the pace the Blades currently are on, they stand a good chance to continue that impressive streak.
Most years, however, call-ups and injuries that shake up every roster come later in the season. This season, not a week has gone by where the Blades haven't seen at least three roster changes.
"Guys have learned to really step up and play more than one role," said Everblades coach Greg Poss. "The guys we have here all seem to understand that when a guy gets called up, or someone gets injured, that's an opportunity for them to step up."
As time as gone on, that identity defined by gritty and unselfish play has defined this year's team.
Unlike years past, when the Everblades were built to score in bunches, this season's squad grinds out goals, sacrifices their bodies on penalty kills and gets scoring contributions from all lines. Only once in the last 11 games has any player scored more than one goal.
The team's identity also reflects that of its captain, Mathieu Roy.
Not enough has been said about Roy since his arrival four seasons ago during the first year of the "Malcolm Cameron era."
All Roy has done is everything that has been asked of him. He is a forward that specializes in killing penalties and fighting for loose pucks in the corners. He isn't afraid to take a hit or do the dirty work required for successful playoff hockey - the only goal of every Everblades team.
"Mathieu really has been a great captain and leader for this team, on the ice and in the locker room," said Poss. "The team has really learned to follow his leadership. He is a major reason why we are where we are right now."
The Blades have three chances to improve their record against the Elmira Jackals beginning Wednesday at Germain Arena.
"Elmira is coming in hot. They have won five or six in a row now," said Poss. "Everyone is going to have to keep playing their roles, and we are expecting (goaltender) John Muse to be called up, so we are going to need guys to step up again."