If this trend continues, I don’t think I will be asked to guest blog here anymore on Chasing Checkers. I swear I have no rooting interest and am not jinxing the Checkers for knocking out my Penguins. (Note from Chasing Checkers – you are correct, sir! I can’t ask you to fill in EVER AGAIN after this record my team has after the first two games!)
The Charlotte Checkers are staring at an 0-2 hole going up to the Southern Tier of New York Tuesday night having lost 3-0 tonight to the Binghamton Senators. Robin Lehner a 35 save shutout. Game 3 is Tuesday night in Binghamton.
Mike Murphy (7-4, 2.17 GAA, 0.932 SV%) vs. Robin Lehner (7-2, 2.82 GAA, 0.919 SV%) - two lineup changes for the Checkers tonight as Jacob Micflikier and Bobby Sanguinetti were in for Zach FitzGerald and Jonathan Matsumoto.
First period: Early turnover by the B-Sens which the Checkers nearly capitalized on. Then a scary moment for Checkers fans as an Andre Benoit shot crumbles Oskar Osala. He’d return. There was a much quicker pace from Game 1 with both teams flying, but this was to be expected because it was 3-1 before you even got your seat warm yesterday. I felt like this period was to be more expected yesterday with both teams looking like they were going through a “feeling out” period. Both Lehner and Murphy made some big saves this period. Later, the aforementioned Osala would get a decent scoring chance on a botched Binghamton offensive zone play. Then, the Sens would capitalize on a busted play by Charlotte as Ryan Potulny would score his league leading 12th goal of the playoffs on a wide open net. Right after, Riley Nash would get whistled for slashing giving the B-Sens a late power play.
First Period thoughts: Despite a generally even 11-9 SOG total for the Senators through one, the Sens had all the puck possession in the first period. Charlotte lucky with all of Bingamtons firepower to get out of the period only down 1-0.
Second period: Off the opening faceoff, Senators captain Ryan Keller would offer a nice centering feed to Ryan Potulny for a power play goal to put the Checkers up 2-0 just :29 into the second period. Then the Checkers would get a chance on the power play. They would hit the inside of the post, no goal. Then the Sens would break in shorthanded and were denied by a diving pad save from Mike Murphy. Then the Checkers would get another power play with Ryan Potulny in the box for a high stick. Lots of chances on the man up but they did not score. Then after that, Brett Sutter would appear to score but not before the referees ruled he cross checked Binghamton’s Colin Greening first, so the goal came off of the board and the Senators went to the power play. Fans were irate. Checkers would kill it and Sutter would get a nice chance on Lehner but he put the puck over the net instead of in it. Sutter wasn’t done yet, as he would absolutely plaster Roman Wick behind Murphy’s net on an unnecessary boarding call. No scoring on the Binghamton power play to end the second.
SOG were overall 25-22 f or the Checkers up to this point and 16-12 in this period. More on why I think this is worth bringing up in a minute.
Third period: Checkers would kill off the Sutter penalty from the second period. The Checkers looked to be attempting to generate chances all night, but the Binghamton Senators held all decent scoring chances at bay. Teams would have some good chances back and forth this period but it looked like to me at least that Binghamton was only giving Charlotte what they wanted to give them, when they wanted and there wasn’t really anything anyone in white and red could do about it. Brett Bellemore had a good scoring chance right at the half way point of the third but Lehner really was unbeatable tonight, seeing it all the way. Then, Corey Locke skated down to the corner and found Bobby Butler in the high slot who had time and space and made it 3-0. Backbreaking goal for the Checkers. You can’t allow Bobby Butler all that time to pick his spot in the high slot like that. After that, the Time Warner Cable Arena sounded like the inside of a church. Inside of three minutes to go in the game, head coach Jeff Daniels would summon Mike Murphy to the bench giving the Checkers an extra attacker. Tempers flared late with Nicolas Blanchard and Riley Nash tangling with Cody Bass and Mark Borowiecki all players would be dismissed to their locker rooms, but not before Nicolas Blanchard threw his helmet at someone. The remainder of the game would end peacefully.
Three Stars: Ryan Keller (two assists, +1) Robin Lehner (35 save shutout) and Ryan Potulny (two goals, +1)
Observations: Much better officiated game tonight with only seven infractions tonight as opposed to fifteen the night before. Binghamton has matched the speed of the Checkers and obviously controlled puck possession all night. Could be an issue of concern for the Checkers the rest of the series.
I will leave you, Checkers fans, with some hope. The WBS Pens faced the same 0-2 deficit after dropping the first two games at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Round One to the Norfolk Admirals in the East Division Semifinals but battled back winning the next three on the road at the Norfolk Scope and wrapping up the series back home in Wilkes-Barre in six games. Binghamton isn’t the best home team either. The last time they were on home ice, the lost to the Portland Pirates in the Atlantic Division Finals (remember Binghamton was the Atlantic Division crossover team thus they competed in, and represent, the Atlantic Division) they lost 6-2. The B-Sens have won their eighth straight road game, one off the record we told you about last night, but have only gone 2-4 at home in these Calder Cup Playoffs. Don’t give up the ship!
Again, many thanks to Jenni for the opportunity to guest blog again tonight. You can check me out on Twitter @nafsnep and my blog covering the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins at Chirps from Center Ice.
Thank you, Jason, for your help for these first two games. I mean this in the nicest possible way, but I will NOT need your services for game three. ;). But seriously, I missed the game completely, and hardly was able to follow on Twitter, but the one thing I do know is that 2-0 deficit CAN be overcome. The Checkers can do this, no doubt about it! So see you in game three!
Lets Go Checkers!