Is it finally Howard's time?

STEVE GREEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:31 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- The law of averages dictates Glenn Howard has to beat Kevin Martin at a Brier some time.

Saturday at the John Labatt Centre would be as good a time as any as far as the Ontario skip is concerned. That's when Howard and his Alberta tormentor meet in the 3-4 Page playoff game at the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier.

Martin has won the previous seven meetings between the teams at the Canadian men's curling championship, the last coming Thursday night in the final draw of the round-robin. In that game, Martin took control early with deuces in the first and third ends, helped by a few Ontario half-shots, before holding on for the 6-5 win.

"We'll definitely have to bring our A game. If we bring our B or C game, we'll lose," Howard said Friday after a practice session. "But we're ready to come out and show people what we're made of.

"It's frustrating," he added of the 0-7 mark against Martin. "I'd be lying to you if I said it wasn't. But you can't beat them until you play them again."

Howard said the key to finally getting one over on Martin isn't complicated.

"Strategy isn't the problem. The issue is making shots," he said. "Every time they play us, they seem to make one or two more shots than we do, and at timely moments in the game. (Thursday) we didn't string six or seven good shots together the whole game and that's not like us."

Howard and his rink of third Richard Hart, second Brent Laing and lead Craig Savill, like every other team here this week, has had to battle the varying ice conditions brought on by the humid, wet weather.

"The ice conditions have been great, but they've been different every day, every draw, every sheet," Howard said. "It's almost like you're going onto a different putting green each time out.

"Personally, I know that if I put the broom down and I'm 100% confident, I will make the shot. But what happens when the ice is like this is you start second-guessing yourself: 'Is the broom in the right place? Is it going to curl or run straight?'"

The variable ice conditions put a premium on getting the right read as quickly as possible and puts added pressure on the front end.

"It's hard for a front end to win a game, but we can sure help lose one," Laing said. "Craig and I both struggled early (Thursday) and they put a lot of pressure on us as a result. It happens sometimes. But we've had a solid week as a team and we came back really well in the second half of that game. We were down 4-1 after three and Kevin still had to throw his last shot to beat us.

"We've been here enough times and we don't go away. We know how to battle back -- we played six and a half good ends Thursday. We just need to set things up a little better at the start this time."

Laing, like his skip, isn't letting the Martin streak play with his thoughts.

"It doesn't really get into your head," he said. "Everyone's had a bad record against Kevin the last few Briers, similar to the record everyone had against (Randy) Ferbey a few years before that. Curling's weird that way -- you go on a winning streak or losing streak against certain teams. But our overall record speaks for itself. The reason our record against Kevin is worse than others is because we're in more of those games against him."

The loser of Saturday afternoon's tilt is done, while the winner advances to the semifinal that night against Brad Gushue of Newfoundland/Labrador or Jeff Stoughton of Manitoba, who met in the 1-2 game Friday night.

"Yeah, it's do or die, but we've had a lot of big games over the years and we've won more elimination games than we've lost," Howard said. "People say, 'Well, you came second,' but there's a lot of games you have to win before that."

Starting Saturday.

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