The One About the ’12-’13 Schedule.

Tess and Haley here again! First of all, our apologies for not posting our thoughts earlier, Haley and I have been pretty busy between moving, school, work, and life. Regardless, better late than never!

We’ll go ahead and start this off with the massive elephant in the room. To rip it off like a band-aid, the Checkers don’t play at home until November 4th, nearly a month after their season starts. Luckily, the nine away-game stretch that starts out the season is the longest our fellas will be away. The hockey gods giveth, and the hockey gods taketh… and thankfully they made up for that nine game stretch by giving us a 10 game stretch at home from November 24th to December 15th!

As for the competitors this season, though the Checkers have once again changed divisions, the opponents won’t be all too unfamiliar. All of Charlotte’s adversaries this season are in the Western conference, with the exception of area rival, Norfolk Admirals. The team will face each of their South Division foes (Houston, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Texas). Since joining the Western Conference the Checkers have yet to face Hamilton, Rochester, and Toronto and will continue not oppose them during the regular season. However they will face Norfolk, Houston, OKC, Peoria, Milwaukee and Texas eight times and Abbotsford, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Lake Erie, and Rockford four times.

There are a few notable games in the schedule. The Checkers will have two doubleheaders with the Bobcats this season, December 15th and January 12th. On both dates the Checkers will play at noon and the Bobcats will follow at 7 pm. The November 24th game coincides with the team’s 5K Run & Walk, which is still open for registration and volunteer help.

The last game to keep your eye out for is on January 6th. The team will play in Raleigh against the Norfolk Admirals, the reigning Calder Cup champions. Keep in mind that the ‘Canes play the Isles the night before in Raleigh as well so make a weekend out of it! We’d also like to make note that the promotional schedule has yet to be released, so we’ll be sure to make mention of more notable games later.

Lastly, the Checkers have a huge advantage towards the end of the season. During the month of February the team only plays eight games, two of which are at home, then play 14 of their next 18 games at home, spanning from March 1st to April 12th. After the 12th, the team closes the season with four away games, ending regular season on April 20th.

To check out the Checkers schedule for yourself, go here. For the full AHL schedule, click here.
As always, we look forward to writing much more about the season to come!

 

 

The one about losing in game three

OK, I’m not gonna lie, I feel this crazy pressure right now to write a great, concise post-game wrap-up like the one @nafsnep did when I was in Chicago.  But the bottom line is Jason and I are very different writers, and I could never do what he does… but I can knock the socks of a social/cultural commentary piece! 

Thoughts about the game:

  • Mike Murphy was outstanding in the first period.  The only goal he allowed was unstoppable, especially considering he had no help from his teammates.
  • Midway through the first, after an especially stressful few minutes where he was hammered with shot after shot, he mysteriously lost his mask… it looked a bit shady to me, but a goalie has to do what a goalie has to do!  Whatever it takes…
  • I flipped back and forth between Jason Shaya’s call for Charlotte, and the Binghamton radio guys, mostly sticking with the Bingo feed.  It’s just nice to have a color guy in addition to the play by play once in awhile.  I listened to Shaya at intermission though!
  • Charlotte needs to learn to play with more discipline!  They get so frantic, and make terrible plays as a result.
  • Where the heck was our defense tonight?  Mike Murphy was hung out to dry time and time again.
  • It’s obvious that Charlotte is playing hurt right now.  VERY hurt.  I’d been speculating on injuries to a few of our guys, and this just cements it.  Drayson Bowman left the ice tonight with a trainer, Casey Borer didn’t play (and it’s rumored to be injury-related), we know about Zac Dalpe’s problems, and there are a couple others I suspect as well.
  • This is NOT how you win playoff games.  Charlotte is SO MUCH BETTER than they played.
  • While I realize Murphy allowed a lot of goals, it was NOT his play that lost the game.  It was the lack of defense from the five guys in front of him that let the Checkers lose.  Some of the shots he stopped should have been unstoppable, but he is just THAT GOOD at reading plays and angles that he was able to make a number of amazing saves.
  • Justin Pogge looks out of practice and out of shape.  I know he came in cold, but even at PRACTICE when he’s properly warmed up, he hasn’t looked good lately.  In his nearly nine minutes of play tonight, he only made one save, and allowed two pretty soft goals.  Again, I totally understand he went in cold, but still.
  • I do NOT believe Justin Pogge should get the start tomorrow.  Mike Murphy is our guy, and the one I have the most faith in.
  • Binghamton has WAY better camera operators than Charlotte.  This game was a pleasure to watch, except for the score… Charlotte games are these zoom in/zoom out things that make me dizzy when I watch.
So… that is all I have to say.  I’m sorry readers, this is a terrible wrap-up, but I’m too emotionally invested in this series, and I refuse to dwell on the negative, to which there was a lot tonight.  I’m not going to give up.  This is our team, Charlotte.  Right now, they need us the most.  We can do this.  I believe in the team, I believe in the fans.
Lets Go Checkers!

Quick Hits – Game three vs. Binghamton Senators

My brother got his Master's degree this weekend. He also kept his playoff beard, unlike some people I know who shaved for their graduations!

I’m back in the land of Checkers Hockey, but feel like it’s going to take me days to fully recover from my “vacation” and lack of contact with the team and their playoff run.  Being at my brother’s graduation with friends and family in Iowa and Chicago made it impossible for me to watch the games.  We were always on the go so I couldn’t even try to catch up and watch them archived on AHL live, so alas, there is not much I can say about the first two games, or why the end result was what it was.  I’m just going to start fresh, beginning with game three, which is of course tonight in Binghamton, NY.

Fast Facts about the game:

The good news, and ONLY the good news (positive energy is my playoff mantra!!!)

  • Charlotte has not lost more than two games in a row since October. (Credit goes to Mike Lappan for this stat!)
  • MANY MANY teams have come back from being 0-2 to win a playoff series.  Wilkes-Barre/Scranton did it in the first round against Norfolk.  The Boston Bruins beat the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the NHL playoffs this year after being down 0-2, just to name a couple.
  • Binghamton has a terrible record at home, going 2-4 in the playoffs, while Charlotte is 4-2 on the road.
  • A number of Checkers super fans will be in Binghamton tonight!  Fitzy’s Posse and others will be there loud and proud, cheering for our team!  I’ve even heard there will be WBS Penguins fans wearing Checkers gear, and folks from Albany on hand to cheer on the Checkers.  Get a LETS GO CHECKERS chant going for us! (I’ll join in from my living room!)

CHARLOTTE QUICK HITS

  • Time Warner Cable will carry the game at 7 p.m. on channel 520 (519 in Raleigh, or so I’m told!)  I want to watch the game at a bar with friends, but haven’t heard of any viewing parties.  I’m totally up for joining others if there is a place we can go!
  • Charlotte is 0-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals
  • Mike Murphy has started both games (though he did not finish game one), and as he was the first off the ice in Binghamton this morning, Murphy will most likely start in goal for game three.
  • Murphy’s playoff record is 7-5 (2.25 GAA, .929 SV%), and is 0-2 against Binghamton in the playoffs (5.43 GAA, .826 SV%).
  • Jon Matsumoto, who didn’t play in game two, was on the ice this morning
  • According to Jim Rutherford, Zac Dalpe is playing hurt, but is expected to play tonight.
BINGHAMTON QUICK HITS
  • Robin Lehner is expected to start in goal.  Lehner has started the past 11 games, and has a record of 8-2 in the playoffs (2.54 GAA, .927 SV%).  In his 1.33 games against Charlotte this round, he is 1-0 (2.25 GAA, .936 SV%).
  • Patrick Wiercioch is expected to play for the Senators.  Wiercioch, a rookie defenseman for the sens had one point in all 11 of the previous playoff games, and was a +3.   He had missed the past four games due to injury.
That’s all for playoff updates for tonight.   I’ll be watching the game, start to finish, in my living room with a few North Carolina beers (we tend to win more when I drink good Carolina beers, and of course I’ll be wearing my Chris Terry jersey, as I have since I got it in the second round). I’m also going to listen to a 45 minute long audio clip from Jim Rutherford later and put together my thoughts on what his comments may mean to the Checkers (like losing Justin Pogge, and getting Justin Peters back from the Hurricanes, as they are looking for a veteran backup to support Cam Ward).  But until then…
LETS GO CHECKERS!

Eastern Conference Final Game 2 Wrapup

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!

Eastern Conference Game 1 Wrapup

Hey readers!  Your trusty blogger-in-chief here, to welcome another guest blogger who is filling in for me while I’m on vacay in Chicago.  This is probably the most thorough and well-written post-gamer you will ever see here at Chasing Checkers, so don’t get too used to it!  

The Binghamton Senators continue the dominance on the road tonight, winning their seventh straight Calder Cup playoff game and doing so in dominating fashion at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte by the score of 7-4 tonight. The record for road wins is nine, set by the 1998 Philadelphia Phantoms.

Mike Murphy (7-3, 1.79 GAA, 0.944 SV%) vs. Robin Lehner (7-2, 2.59 GAA, 0.926 SV%)

First Period: Off the hop, early offensive pressure by Binghamton as Charlotte could not clear a puck in their defensive zone and AHL MVP Corey Locke would open the scoring 1:37 in with a nifty right wing snipe. Then right after, as in the very next faceoff, Brad Herauf would crash the net and score on Lehner as Riley Nash would work to dig a puck off the far wall and on net. Not done yet, the next faceoff Kaspars Daugavjns would take a neat feed from Jim O’Brien right down the slot to make it 2-1. The defensive pairing of Bryan Rodney and Justin Faulk would be on the ice for both Binghamton goals and quickly broken up thereafter. Things would settle down a bit. Then, with Ryan Potulny in the box for hooking, Andre Benoit would come in on a 2 on 0 with Cody Bass to put the Sens up 3-1 shorthanded. Defensive breakdowns were killing the Checkers early. About two minutes later, Zac Dalpe then took a nice pass from Brett Sutter and slipped a shot thru the legs of Senators defenseman Jared Cowen and past Lehner to bring the score to 3-2. Then, right after that, Zach FitzGerald would take an interference penalty to put the B-Sens on the power play which was the AHL’s best in the regular season. Corey Locke would draw Mike Murphy out of his net and would dish off to Bobby Butler who cashed in on a wide open net to make it 4-2. Then, late, the Checkers would get a power play with Andre Benoit in the box for hooking. Charlotte wouldn’t take long to make it 4-3 after a Drayson Bowman point shot which Riley Nash would find the rebound and cash in on.

Everyone take a deep breath. Considering there were 20 goals in the series before with the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, seven goals in the first twenty minutes was a shock, even to a casual observer such as I. Shots were an even 12 at the end of one.

Second period: B-Sens goaltender Robin Lehner would not return for the second period as he would be replaced by backup Barry Brust. This period opened with penalties, and a lot of them. Brad Herauf interference to give the Sens a power play. The power play would get negated as Zack Smith would get an unsportsmanlike conduct after a routine crash off a net but referee Jamie Koharski had an active whistle. Some of his calls all night were a bit iffy to say the least. Then right after that Roman Wick would get whistled for a trip to put the Checkers on a 4×3. Then after that, Oskar Osala high stick, Sens PP.  All penalties would get killed as late the BSens would have trouble gaining the zone on the man up. Halfway thru, SOG would be 7-1 in favor of the Checkers. But, it seemed right after the second half of the period, Cody Bass would feed Roman Wick to chase Murphy and put the Sens up 5-3. I had the feeling watching the game that if Murphy gave up another goal to make it 5-3, he would get relieved and I would be correct. Enter Justin Pogge, not seen since round one versus the Hershey Bears. A couple of near misses both ways and the score would be 5-3 Binghamton after 2.

Binghamton would bet outshot 17-3 in the second period and aggregate 29-15 for the game.

Third period: Zack Smith was in the box from the second period on a late hook, his third infraction of the game. The Sens would kill this penalty. Then both penalty boxes would welcome the Checkers Zach FitzGerald on a trip, then the Sens Corey Locke on interference for a brief period of 4-on-4 hockey for :27. Then Jim O’Brien would get whistled for a hook on Michel Jordan as he lugged a puck up the center of the ice to put the Checkers on a 5-on-3 for 1:28 Checkers coach Jeff Daniels called a timeout to draw up a play. Checkers would pressure like mad on the 2 man advantage and finally Chris Terry would fire a puck from the corner to Oskar Osala right in Brust’s doorstep and over his pad to put the Chckers back within one at 5-4. Then about four minutes later, Erik Condra would skate in short side and go high on Pogge to put the Sens back up two goals at 6-4. Then, the very next faceoff, Biinghamton would score again via Calder Cup scoring leader Ryan Potulny to make it 7-4. Up until the Condra goal, the Sens had only put 5 SOG on Charlotte netminding since the end of the first period. It looked like after this the air in the Checkers sails was gone. That would be how the final score would end up as the Binghamton Senators would take this game and home ice with it, 7-4. That was seven goals by the B-Sens on something like 19 shots on goal.

Three Stars: Riley Nash (goal, two assists, even) Bobby Butler (goal, +1) and Kaspars Daugavins (goal, two assists, +3)

Thoughts: It looked like Binghamton was the more prepared team this evening and Charlotte was still high off of their impressive Game 6 comeback from down 3-0 in Wilkes-Barre to win 4-3. Final shots on goal were 40-22 in favor of Charlotte. What an effort tonight by Barry Brust, stopping 27 out of 28 shots, only being beat when his team was down two men on a 5-on-3 situation. You can expect Robin Lehner to start tomorrow for Binghamton per the Sens beat writer Joy Lindsay. Tons of odd man rushes doomed the Checkers tonight. Rookie defenseman Justin Faulk was a -4 tonight. Granted, this was only his 10th pro game, but could the Checkers see the return of blueliner Bobby Sanguinetti tomorrow?

I’d like to thank Jenni for the opportunity to cover this game for her and wish Checkers fans good luck going forward. For all things WBS Penguins, make sure you check me out on Twitter, @nafsnep and my blog, Chirps from Center Ice.

Chasing Checkers: Wow.  I’m still in shock over this game, and having a hard time comprehending what went on in my hometown tonight while I was about 1200 miles away, drinking Goose Island 312 and eating a Chicago deep dish pizza with my family, and best friend since the eighth grade.  I wish hockey could have paused for me while I go on about my real life, but then again, maybe it’s best I wasn’t at TWCA for tonight’s game.  Don’t worry though… it’s just game one!  The Checkers can and will come back from this.  Maybe after I actually watch the debacle I can make some sense of it.  The good news is tomorrow is another day, with new opportunities.  

Lets Go Checkers

The one about the Senators/Checkers series preview

Last night, I had dinner with my parents and a friend. I was telling her that I had become so involved with the Checkers and their playoff run that I’d been neglecting most other facets of my life, and focusing only on hockey.  My mom chimed in that she was glad I was dropping everything for something constructive and great, and not just a man.  I promptly responded “No, mom, it’s not just one man.  It’s 20 men, and I’m very much involved with every one of them.”

Like the Checkers, the Binghamton Senators have defeated teams that many felt were unbeatable in the first two rounds of their playoff run.  Also similar to the Checkers, the Senators started the playoffs with a more veteran, experienced netminder (Barry Brust for the Sens, and Justin Pogge for the Checkers) but midway through the first round switched netminders to bring in a rookie instead.  For both the Checkers and Senators, this decision has paid off.  Binghamton is a team that barely made the playoffs, and has been playing in the Atlantic division in the transfer spot, having finished in fifth in our own East division, but higher than the fourth place team in the Atlantic.

During the first round, Binghamton defeated the Manchester Monarchs in a seven-game series that included five contests that went into overtime.  Their second round of the playoffs was against the number one seed in the Atlantic conference, the Portland Pirates.  That series went six games, with no overtime contests, and only two one-goal differential games.  (As compared to the Checkers/Penguins round, which also went six games,  included one overtime contest and saw five of the six games end with a one-goal differential.)

IN THE CREASE

Netminder Barry Brust started all eight games vs. CLT in the regular season this year, but Robin Lehner has started all Bingo games since game six in the first round of the playoffs.

Robin Lehner, 19, is a Swedish goaltender who was drafted in 2009 by the Ottawa Senators.  A rookie this season, he finished the year in the AHL.  He played in 22 games for Binghamton and had a record of 10-8-2-3.  He had a 2.91 GAA, and a .912 SV%.  He played for Sweden at the 2011 World Juniors, and spent some time in Ottawa with the NHL club during January.  In the playoffs, Lehner has started in nine games (he was pulled in one contest during the second round).  He is 7-2 in the playoffs, has one shutout.  He has a 2.59 GAA, and a .926 SV%.  I asked Checkers D-man Michal Jordan about him during the playoff rally on Tuesday, and Jordan was quick to respond that he’d played and beaten him in the OHL, so he wasn’t worried.

For Charlotte, Mike Murphy went 1-1 vs. the Senators during the regular season (Pogge made the other six starts).  In the playoffs, Murphy has a record of 7-3, with one shutout.  He boasts a rather impressive 1.79 GAA, and a .944 SV%.

OFFENSE – the Zac(h)s vs. the Ryans

In 13 playoff games, Senators centerman Ryan Potulny has 19 points, scoring 10 goals and nine assists.  He was a mid-season addition to the Ottawa organization, having been traded from Chicago.

Captain Ryan Keller follows close behind Potulny with 16 points.  He has six goals, and 10 helpers in his 13 playoff games.  Other offensive support comes from Kaspars Daugavins, Zack Smith, Bobby Butler and Andre Benoit.  Benoit, a defenseman, is an AHL veteran having won the Calder cup with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2007, the season he and the rest of his team stole the heart of this Chasing Checkers blogger.  But I’ll save more about him for the defense part of this preview!

For Charlotte, rookie Zac Dalpe, having played in all 12 playoff game, with five goals and seven assists.  Brett Sutter is close behind with 11 points, scoring four goals and seven assists in his 12 games, leads the Checkers in offenses.  Other offensive forces include Zach Boychuck, Drayson Bowman and Jon Matsumoto.

Overall, the Senators have allowed 41 goals during the playoffs, and scored 46.  In contrast to this, the Checkers who many consider to be an offensive force, have scored only 29 goals, and allowed 27, mostly due to the goaltending awesomeness of Mike Murphy.

DEFENSE, and PIMs

Andre Benoit skates for the Senators during a regular-season match-up against the Checkers. Photo Credit: Jenni Propst

The Senators defense is led by alternate captain Andre Benoit.  I have admired him for years, having followed him to the Calder Cup in 2007, when he scored 13 points in 22 playoff games.  He’s one of those small, speedy defenseman that you can’t help but like when they play for your team, but I can assure you Checkers fans, that despite my past history with number 61, my allegiance lies firmly with Charlotte now!

On the penalties front, Zack Smith has appeared in all 13 playoff games and leads the Senators in PIMs with 14.  All of these penalties were minors, ranging from interference to boarding.

Zack FitzGerald leads the Checkers with 24 PIMs in seven post-season appearances.  He received five roughing minor penalties in game two against Wilkes-Barre.  After that game two loss, FitzGerald was benched for the following three games, finally returning in game six, where he only took one minor penalty for high sticking, and ended the night with a plus two.  It will be interesting to see what defenseman sits against Binghamton, but my guess it it will be Fitzgerald, more often than not, simply because the Senators playing style doesn’t seem to require that of an enforcer like FitzGerald.

 An interesting note in regards to the Senators is that in 13 playoff games, they did not receive any fighting majors, and only one roughing penalty.  By the contrary, Charlotte has 23 roughing penalties, and one fighting major in their 12 playoff games.  While the Checkers have a phenomenal penalty kill, staying out of the box may prove to be a key element to this third-round series.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Binghamton Senators, overall, have a more veteran roster, featuring guys like Corey Locke and Andre Benoit who both won the Calder Cup in 2007 with Hamilton.  The Checkers, while a bit younger, have a very impressive roster, despite inexperience in the playoffs beyond the second round.  (This is the first time in Hurricane’s history that their farm team has gone beyond the second round!).

While it’s not an AHL championship, the Checkers boast guys like Captain Rodney who won the Memorial Cup with the London Knights (and Corey Perry, Danny Syvret, Rob Schremp, and Marc Methot) in 2005, and Justin Faulk, who recently won the 2011 NCAA Championship with UM-Duluth.  Syvret was the captain of the 2005 London Knight squad, and is currently a member of the Philadelphia Flyers (and also a former Calder Cup winner in 2007 with Hamilton).  He tweeted the following yesterday:

I think I’m going to have to aggree on all fronts with Syvret… both on the Rodney fanclub, AND the desire for a final round vs. Hamilton!

PREDICTION TIME

During the last round, I got it wrong when I predicted that the Checkers would beat the Penguins in seven games.  (We did it in six… I’d rather the number of games be wrong more than the final outcome!)  For this round, I’m going to say Charlotte Checkers in six games over Binghamton.  Both on paper and in my heart and soul, Charlotte seems to be the team to beat at this point in the series, but by no means am I discrediting Binghamton’s ability.  They’ve clearly overcome a lot, and have that fierce, determined underdog thing going for them that tends to pay off in the playoffs.

Cut and paste from a post I did last weekend:  I’m sure all of my readers know all of the Checkers twitters worth following, so focusing on Binghamton links.

Binghamton Twitter accounts and Links of Interest:

And with that, I have to finish packing for my flight to Chicago.  Who knew that you could fly direct out of the tiny, two gate Asheville Regional Airport!  I’ll take it, even if my plane may have propellers.  Just a reminder, the awesome @nafsnep at Chirps from Center Ice will be providing tonight’s post-game report.  He’s a Penguins fan, but a really smart guy when it comes to hockey, and a blogging idol of mine.  I wish I could be there with you all in Charlotte, but I’ll be there in spirit! 


Lets Go Checkers

The one about Senators links, and moving onto the third round

I’m still not sure I’ve come down from the win last night…. and I wasn’t there, and certainly wasn’t an actual part of the team playing in Wilkes-Barre.  What the Checkers did this series AND Last is just phenomenal.  They overcame the back-to-back Calder Cup Champions in the first round, and then in the second, defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, a team many believed would be the one to go all the way.  The Checkers had a great year in Charlotte, but the Pens had 20 more points in the final standings, the goalie of the year, and coach of the year.  On paper, they should have been nearly unstoppable.  I could write a formal write up of the game, but I think I’ll leave my “documentation” to the cheesy liveblog my friends and I wrote during the game, though I will say one more time.  CHRIS TERRY WAS TERRYIFFIC!  Can we please get this term written into Checkers terminology?

So here we are, in our inaugural season in Charlotte, heading into the third round of the AHL  playoffs, a round that will determine the Eastern conference champions, and who will go on to battle for the ultimate AHL trophy, the Calder Cup.  It’s pretty incredible, and I can’t wait to see it unfold, and cheer our team all the way to the finish.

I’ve got a busy week ahead of me between work and family stuff, but I’m planning to go to practice a couple of times, and I’m going to write something more “formal” in the way of stats and a comparison of the Sens and Checkers, but wanted to get a few things down right now off the top of my head.

Binghamton Senators Fast Facts:

  • Like the Checkers, Binghamton are in the East division of the East conference.  The finished fifth in our division, but earned a “transfer” spot to the Atlantic conference by finishing ahead of their fourth seed.
  • The Senators finished the season with 92 points (compared to the Checkers 97 points)
  • In eight games verses Binghamton, the Checkers had a record of 4-3-1.
  • Like the Checkers, Binghamton had to defeat the first and second seeds in their playoff division to make it to the Conference finals.
Binghamton Twitter accounts and Links of Interest:
Finally… a plea, to you, the readers!
It kills me to say this, because I truly am heartbroken to miss the games, but I won’t be there on Thursday or Friday night at TWCA. My baby brother is graduating with his master’s degree, so I’ll be in Chicago with the family celebrating his huge accomplishiment.  I thought about changing my flight to late Friday night or Saturday morning, but it’s expensive, and it’s not like life won’t go on without hockey!  What I need is some people who want to volunteer to write some kind of post-game write up.  It’ll be unlikely that I can even listen to the game on the radio, let alone see it, so I need your help.  If you are interested, drop me an email to chasingthecheckers (at) gmail.com.
That’s it for now… be looking for more updates this week!
Lets Go Checkers