Playoff Preview: Where the Checkers attempt to drill the Barons

It’s been a long time since I had to write a playoff preview.  Too long, really, but I dug back into the Chasing Checkers archives for an example of how I did in in 2011, so here you go.

 catokc

The overall record:

This year, the Checkers were 4-4-0 against Oklahoma City.  On the road, they were 3-1, but at home in Charlotte, the Checkers lost three of four games against the Barons, including a 7-2 blowout in November that was the beginning of the Checkers 7-game losing streak that carried into December.  The road record could prove favorable with the Checkers facing the Barons for the first two games of the series in Oklahoma City, but clinching the first round back at home for the Checkers could prove to be a challenge, based on statistics alone, and a Charlotte team that at times seemed to struggle in their own building.

Of the eight games the Checkers and Barons played this season, six of them were after the NHL camps and season had begun, which removed guys like now-Oilers Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz and Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from the mix.  When those four played for the Barons, the Checkers were unable to beat them.  Eberle, for example, had five points (4g, 1a) in only two appearances against Charlotte.

 

IN THE CREASE

Yann Danis has a Calder Cup and lots of playoff experience under his belt. He will face the Checkers tonight in OKC. (Photo - J. Propst)

Yann Danis has a Calder Cup and lots of playoff experience under his belt. He will face the Checkers tonight in OKC. (Photo – J. Propst)

Yann Danis is the number one goalie for the OKC Barons.  He’s got a lot of Calder Cup Playoff experience.  This is his fifth trip to the playoffs, including a Calder Cup in 2007 with Hamilton (though he was not the starter for that entire playoff run, Carey Price joined the team late after his junior season and took the reigns as number one). Last year with the Barons, Danis was 8-6 in the playoffs, and started every game on the way to an eventual defeat by Toronto in the Conference Finals.  The Marlies, of course, went on to the finals and lost to the Norfolk Admirals.  In his career, Danis has played in 20 AHL playoff games.  This season, Danis faced the Checkers four times, and was 2-2.

Niko Hovinen is the number two goalie in Oklahoma City, and has a better record against the Checkers this year.  He faced them twice, winning both games.

For Charlotte, the goaltending story is a very different one.  The Checkers are still carrying three goalies.  John Muse faced the Barons twice this year, and lost both games with a 4.43 GAA and .829 SV%.  Neither Rob Madore or Mike Murphy has played the Barons this year, though Murphy played well against a similar Barons squad last year, with a 2-1 record. If I had to put my money on who starts the series for Charlotte, it would go on rookie Rob Madore.

 

DEFFENSE

Colten Teubert and Alex Plante provide toughness on the blueline for the Barons, and combined for 24 PIMs against the Checkers this year, and are the top to PIM-receivers on the Barons active roster.  Look to them both to stir things up against guys like Brett Bellemore, and Nicolas Blanchard when he re-joins the Checkers next week.

The Checkers defense is possibly the weakest spot on the team right now.  With injuries to Michal Jordan and Marc-Andre Gragnani , and a possible need for a recall to the Hurricanes to replace Joe Corvo who missed last night’s Hurricanes game due to injury, the remaining defense corps is a bit thin.  Brett Bellemore is the most experienced, and the only one with significant AHL playoff experience.  In eight games against Oklahoma City this year, he only had one assist, but the 20 PIMs shows he’s not afraid to mix it up against the Barons.  Justin Krueger and Rasmus Rissanen, who each completed their sophomore season with the Checkers, are the only two defensemen who spent all of the 2012-13 season with the Checkers.

Bobby Raymond found his scoring ways against the Barons, with four points (2g, 2a) in six games.  Though he’s only played three games with the Checkers so far, rookie Ryan Murphy will certainly be called upon during this series.

OFFENSE

Zach Boychuk had three goals in three games against the Barons. All three were scored on Yann Danis. (Photo - J. Propst)

Zach Boychuk had three goals in three games against the Barons. All three were scored on Yann Danis. (Photo – J. Propst)

For the Barons, center Marc Arcobello leads the team with 68 points (22g, 46a).  Six of those points came during his eight games against the Checkers (4g, 2a).  Due to a stacked roster prior to the end of the NHL lockout, Phillipe Cornet was part of a numbers game that kept him on the ECHL squad in California.  In his 46 games with the Barons this year, Cornet has 33 points including eight points in seven games against the Checkers (4g, 4a).  Rookie Toni Rajala also spent a portion of the season in the ECHL, but has 46 points in 45 games (17g, 28a).  In eight games against Charlotte, he had five points (2g, 3a).

Though the Checkers did not make the post-season last year, a number of stand-outs from their 2011 playoff run remain with the team.  Brett Sutter, Zac Dalpe, Chris Terry and Zach Boychuk all led the team in points during the 2011 playoff run, and continue to be the offensive leaders on the Checkers.

Dalpe, though he only faced the Barons four times this year, had six points (2g, 4a).  Other Checkers who had strong performances against the Barons include Terry (3g, 5a) and Jeremy Welsh (2g, 3a).

SERIES PREDICTION

Back in 2011, I was told by my buddy Jason over at Chirps from Center Ice, that I needed to make a prediction for each round of the playoffs…. And I’ve struggled with which way to go this round.  I’m confident the Checkers can win, the question is how many games will it take.

So… because I believe it’s going to be a fiercely competitive series, I’m going to say the Checkers win in five games (and to go a step further, believe they will be the only Western first-round series that takes five games to settle!)

 

Who to follow on Twitter/blogs from Oklahoma City:

Patricia Teter’s ArtfulPuck and on Twitter @ArtfulPuck

Neal Livingston’s Tend the Farm and on Twitter @TweetNeal

Chasing Checkers game-day twitter list

 

 

Let’s Go Checkers!

 

 

Gameday – Oklahoma Barons at Charlotte Checkers

 

Oklahoma City Barons (9-5-1-1) at Charlotte Checkers (12-3-0-2)

  • The Oklahoma City Barons are in second in their division and fourth in the Western conference, while the Checkers sit in first in the entire AHL.
  • The Barons have, undoubtedly, the most highly touted team in terms of NHL talent.  Rookie defenseman Justin Schultz leads the league in scoring with 23 points (9g, 14a).  Schultz, you might recall, signed with the Edmonton Oilers during the offseason as a free agent after being drafted by the Anaheim Ducks and choosing not to sign there.
  • As if it’s not enough to have the number one scorer on your team, three of the top five in the league are Barons.  Jordan Eberle has 21 points (7g, 14a) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 19 points (7g, 12a).
  • In addition to the above high-scorers, Taylor Hall is also a member of the Barons.  Like Nugent-Hopkins, he was a number one, first-round draft pick for Edmonton.  Though he’s only played in eight games, he already has nine points (4g, 5a).
  • The Barons and Checkers rivalry is one that continues to grow in its second season.  The Barons had the best record in the Western Conference, and despite that, the Checkers were able to find a chink in their amour, and had a 5-1-1-1 record against the Barons, which if I’m not mistaken, made the Checkers the only team with a regular season winning record against the Barons.
  • The Barons and Checkers didn’t have much of a Thanksgiving break.  Each team last played (and won) on the road on Wednesday night.
  • The games this weekend should be pretty intense.  The Checkers and Barons have the two best power play units in the league.  Fortunately for Checkers fans, Charlotte is the seventh-best penalty kill, and the Barons are close to the bottom of the list in 28th.
  • Some stats Checkers fans will appreciate knowing about:
    • Zach Boychuk leads the league in game winning goals with four.
    • Drayson Bowman is second in shots on goal with 57.
    • Bowman and Boychuk are among the top five in goals scored with 11 and 10 respectively.
    • Bowman also is tied with three other players to sit atop the most power play goals, with five.
    • Dan Ellis is among the best goalies in the league with a .948 SV% and 1.71 GAA.
    • Justin Peters, with one shootout appearance under his belt, has a perfect record after stopping all five shots he faced.

For some great coverage and info on the Barons, check out these links:

Let’s Go Checkers!

Quick Hits, and Wolves at Checkers gameday preview

Quick HIts:

  • This is a great article about Charlotte Checkers goaltender Dan Ellis, and his return to the AHL this season.  Personally, I’ve been incredibly impressed with Ellis’ play, and a player like him can take this team far.
  • On the subject of goaltenders, former Checkers goalie and fan favorite Mike Murphy was released by Spartak Moscow on Thursday.  The KHL is a very different league than any of those in North America. The teams that win are the ones with an unlimited payroll, and Spartak has about the lowest in the league. Murphy would face as many as 40-50 shots in any given game, an impossible feat for nearly anyone.  I heard from him on Friday, and he told me he tried hard and learned a lot, and closed our conversation with, “It is what it is.”

Chicago Wolves (6-2-1-0) at Charlotte Checkers (6-2-0-1)

  • This afternoon marks Charlotte’s first home game after a nine-game roadtrip that left the team 6-2-0-1.  The Checkers last game was on Wednesday, a 5-4 loss to the Milwaukee Admirals.
  • The Checkers and Wolves are pretty evenly matched with nearly identical records.  Each team has 13 points and sits atop their respective divisions.
  • Chicago last played on Friday night in Rockford, a 6-3 victory.  They are currently 6-2-1-0.
  • Charlotte tops the league on the power play, while the Wolves are near the bottom.
  • On the penalty kill, the Checkers are in a very respectable sixth place.  The Wolves are at the bottom of the pack (get it? Wolves….. Pack.  I know, it wasn’t that funny.  I won’t try so hard next time!)
  • Drayson Bowman is in the midst of a seven-game goal scoring streak, a stat that leads the league. Here’s hoping that can extend to nine!
  • Former Hurricane and Checker Derek Joslin is playing for the Wolves this year.  In eight games, he has two assists.
  • The Checkers attendance has been so bad this season, they aren’t even listed on the AHL’s attendance rankings. Oh, wait… they haven’t had a home game, so being unlisted is ok.  If there are 10K fans at the game this afternoon though, they’ll be number one tomorrow!
  • Opening night (afternoon) at the Checkers is always a time for me to stroll past the merchandise stand and see if there’s anything new and awesome. Mostly though, I walk past with my fingers crossed that there aren’t pink and/or sparkly jerseys for sale.  I hate pink jerseys.  I don’t understand why they are an acceptable item to show team pride.  Stick to the team colors, please!!!!! (Edited to say: I am a HUGE fan of Pink in the Rink jerseys, but those are for charity, and therefore awesome. But pink girl jerseys are not okay EVER, and if you wear one, I will mock you!)
  • Mrs. Mike Fisher Carrie Underwood was in concert last night at TWCA. The ice was uncovered at around 2 a.m.  I would expect the concert festivities may have an effect on today’s ice.
  • Speaking of concerts, who do I need to suggest to the Checkers staff that they should make Justin Bieber a personalized Charlotte Checker’s jersey when he plays the arena on January 22? He’s Canadian, loves hockey, and his favorite number is 6.  Don’t ask me how I know this.  Cause don’t tell me it wouldn’t be AWESOME to see him wearing it sometime… this of all the free media coverage!

Gametime:  3:00 p.m. EST

 

Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,@MikeLappan@Jason_Shaya@ChasingCheckers

Chicago Twitter: @Chicago_Wolves@TheShaves

Chasing Checkers game-day twitter list: https://twitter.com/ChasingCheckers/checkers-game-day

It all comes down to this: Gameday – Charlotte at Milwaukee

Charlotte Checkers (38-28-3-6) at Milwaukee Admirals (39-29-2-5)

  • The Checkers are 4-3 against the Admirals this year, and 2-1 in Milwaukee.
  • Both Charlotte and Milwaukee enter the game with 85 points.  The Admirals are in sixth place, and the Checkers are in eighth. Whoever gets a point makes it to the post season.  So it could be one of them, it could be both.  It’s that close.
  • If Houston loses, both Charlotte and Milwaukee are going to the playoffs.  Charlotte could finish in fifth with a win tomorrow, and a loss by San Antonio.
  • Three weeks ago, my good friend Ryan over at The Admirals Roundtable said to me that April 15 could be a monumental game for one of “our” teams.  I had no idea how true those words would be, because it’s all on the line.
  • Zach Boychuk, who’s been on fire lately and was last night’s first star, leads the Checkers with in goals and has five points against Milwaukee (4g, 1a).
  • Zac Dalpe has five points as well (3g, 2a) in seven games against the Admirals.
  • 1000 miles down on this roadtrip, about 800 to go… it’s been worth it every step of the way!

Gametime: 4:00 p.m. EST

Charlotte RadioWBCN 1660 AM


Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,
Milwaukee Twitter: @mkeadmirals@DaveBoehler,
Milwaukee Blog: The Admirals Roundtable

Gameday: Checkers at Rivermen

 Charlotte Checkers (36-28-3-6) at Peoria Rivermen (39-31-2-2)

  • Tonight is the eighth and final matchup between Charlotte and Peoria.  Charlotte leads the series with a record of 5-2-0.
  • Brian Dumoulin, who just won his second NCAA championship in three years at Boston College, has joined the Checkers after signing an entry-level contract with the Hurricanes, should make his professional debut tonight.
  • Chasing Checkers will be making it’s Peoria debut as well, having reached the goal of visiting all four rival cities in the Midwest division.
  • In 74 games played, the Rivermen have 82 points.  Charlotte has 81 points, but in only 73 games played.
  • While officially this is not a playoff game, the playoff hopes of both teams are riding on the contest, so it will be an intense match up in what is also Peoria’s final home game of the season.
  • Jake Allen, the Rivermen’s starting goaltender, was recently returned from an emergency recall to St. Louis.  Allen has a 1-3-1 record against Charlotte this year.
  • For Charlotte, Mike Murphy is 3-0 with a 1.34 GAA and .951 SV% against Peoria, and Justin Peters, who shutout the IceHogs on Tuesday,  is 1-1 against Peoria and has a 3.41 GAA and .854 SV%.
  • Zach Boychuk leads Charlotte against Peoria with eight points (6g, 2a) in seven games against Peoria.
  • Chris Terry has seven points against the Rivermen (1g, 6a).

Gametime:  8:00 p.m. EST

Charlotte Radio: WBCN 1660 AM
Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,
Peoria Blog: The Rivermen Blog
Officials
Referee: Graham Skilliter (#48)
Linesmen: Aaron Mills (#23), Dan Cohen (#47)

Gameday: Charlotte at Rockford

Charlotte Checkers (35-28-3-6) at Rockford IceHogs (34-31-2-6)

  • The Checkers are 4-1-0-1 against the IceHogs this season, and has won both of the games in Rockford.  This is the first of two games in Rockford this week.
  • As with each of the four-games in this roadtrip, tonight’s game is a must-win for Charlotte.  Rockford is 12th in the West, with 73 games played (one more than Charlotte), and while their playoff hopes aren’t completely eliminated, they are going to need a lot more luck to make it to the post season.
  • The Checkers have a better record on the road than at home this year, and Rockford has a worse record at home than away.  Hopefully these statistics are in the Checkers favor tonight and Saturday.
  • This is Charlotte’s third of four visits to Rockford this year.  Rockford is the birthplace of Chasing Checkers favorite NASCAR crew chief, Chad Knaus, and the Rockford Peaches of the movie “A League of Their Own.”

Checker Stats

  • Michal Jordan and Riley Nash lead the Checkers with six points each against Rockford (2g, 4a).
  • Chris Terry also has six points against Rockford (1g, 5a).
  • Jerome Samson, in only five games against the IceHogs, has five points (3g, 2a).
  • The Checkers have only won two of their past eight games at home.  Their road record is moderately better, with wins in their past two starts, and points in three of their last four.

IceHog Stats

  • Goaltender Carter Hutton has been recalled by the Chicago Blackhawks three times since late February.  When with Rockford, he’s 5-3-1 in his last nine starts.  Hutton was undrafted, and played four years in the NCAA with U-Mass, Lowell.  This season, he was signed on an AHL contract with Rockford, but on February 24, signed an NHL contract with Chicago, and was recalled by the big team the next day. It’s interesting to note that Hutton, who started the 2011/12 season in the ECHL with Toledo, was able to bypass both of the Chicago prospects in Rockford (Alexander Salak and Alec Richards, who has since been reassigned to the ECHL) and have time in the NHL this year.  The Checkers faced Hutton once this year, and he lost in the shootout.
  • Rostislav Olesz missed the past two games due to a lower body injury.  No word yet on whether he will be able to play tonight.  In only four games against Charlotte, Olesz has seven points (2g, 5a).
  • Brandon Pirri, who also has seven points in five games against the Checkers this season (2g, 5a) has been on a scoring slump since a knee injury sidelined him for seven games a month ago.  Since returning, he has only two points (1g, 1a) in seven games.
  • Rob Flick, who started the brawl against the Admirals in Milwaukee over a week ago, will miss tonight’s game.  It is the third of his three-game suspension by the AHL.

Gametime:  8:05 p.m. EST

Charlotte Radio:  WFNZ 610
Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,
Rockford Twitter: @goIceHogs

Gameday: Charlotte at Grand Rapids

 Charlotte Checkers (33-24-3-6) at Grand Rapids (30-26-6-4)

  • Tonight marks Charlotte fourth and final game against the Griffins.  The Checkers have swept the Griffins thus far, leading the series 3-0.
  • Goaltender Joey McDonald took all three losses for the Griffins, but is currently with the Detroit Red Wings.
  • Mike Murphy has two wins against Grand Rapids, and Justin Peters has one.
  • Chris Terry leads the Checkers in points overall with 53 (13g, 40a), and leads the team against the Griffins with three goals in three games played.
  • Defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti is second in points for Charlotte with 42 (9g, 33a) in only 54 games played.  He has three points against the Griffins (1g, 2a).
  • Centerman Jamie Johnson leads the Griffins with 53 points (20g, 33a).  In three games against Charlotte, he has one assist.
  • Right wing Chris Connor has 47 points (16g, 31a) for Grand Rapids.  In three games against Charlotte, he has two assists.
  • Grand Rapids is a town not far from Kalamazoo, where Belle’s brews one of my favorite summer beers, Oberon.  It’s being released this weekend, and I’d love a taste of it, so if the team wants to bring a case home with the equipment, I’d be grateful.  (I know, wishful thinking… )

Injuries, call ups, and otherwise MIA players

  • Joey McDonald was recalled by Detroit on February 3.  Soon after he began his stint with the Red Wings, he was able to claim the back up spot from Ty Conklin, who was sent down to the Griffins for a time, but has sense returned to Detroit as well.  The past couple of months has been a revolving door of goaltenders in Grand Rapids, with PTO signings and alternating starters.
  • Nicolas Blanchard is out for a few weeks after a nasty hit during last weekend’s game in Hershey.  Hopefully, he will be able to return for the playoff run in April.
  • Justin Krueger, who has been sidelined with a broken hand since February 19, may return to the Checkers lineup.
  • Drayson Boyman is still playing for the Hurricanes.  He is eligible to play for the Checkers in the post-season due to clear day rules.

Playoff Perspective:

  • The Checkers have nine more games this season, and each point they can take from their opponents will be crucial.
  • If the playoffs started today, they’d face Oklahoma City, a team the Checkers have found success against during the regular season, but all bets are off once the playoffs begin.
  • After games last night, the Checkers currently sit in eighth place in the West.  The good news is of those eight teams currently “IN” the playoffs, they’ve played the least games, with 66.  Most other teams have played between 69-69, with Lake Erie having played 70 already.  These four games back that the Checkers are to teams like the Monsters will be crucial must-win games to guarantee a playoff spot.
  • As of this morning, only three points separate positions four through 10 in the West.  Yikes.  Each and every point will be needed, and the “loser” shootout/OT points may make or break a team trying to get into the post season.

Gametime:  7:00 p.m. EST

Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,
Grand Rapids Twitter: @griffinshockey@michaelzuidema

Personal stuff that has little at all to do with the Checkers, the playoffs, or anyone else:

  • Things on the Chasing Checkers front have been at a bit of a standstill, and I blame the evil, horrible job for that (except that it’s neither evil nor horrible, just exhausting!).  Special thanks to associate writers Tess, Hayley and Allen for jumping in whenever possible and adding great content!
  • I worked 50 hours in three days last weekend, and probably have been averaging 80-90 hours a week during March.  The GOOD NEWS IS the crazy time of the performing arts biz is winding down.
  • I’ve arranged to take a long weekend off in April and follow the Checkers around the Midwest division to Peoria, Rockford and Milwaukee, meeting my personal goal of seeing the team play in each of their Midwest division rival towns.  I even have a photographer traveling with me, so there should be some great pictures to document the trip and the games.
  • Did you see the Hunger Games???  I did!  My name didn’t make it into the credits, but there were a plethora of scenes I worked on that made the final cut.  Go see this film.  It’s fantastic, and a great show of what the great state of North Carolina can provide to the movies!
  • If you haven’t bought season tickets for next year, DO IT!  I doubled my personal investment with the team by upgrading my seats to the Terrace Tables, and can’t WAIT to watch games from what I think is the best view in TWCA.

Pregame – Peoria Rivermen at Charlotte Checkers

Peoria Rivermen (35-26-2-1) at Charlotte Checkers (32-22-3-5)

  • Charlotte is 3-1 against Peoria.  The Checkers only loss came in February.  Dave Caruso, in his only start for the Checkers, was the losing goaltender.
  • Peoria is in the midst of a four-game winning streak.  They have 73 points (one more than Charlotte, who is two games back), and sit in second place in the Midwest Division.  The Checkers fell to third over the weekend after a pretty abysmal pair of games against Norfolk.
  • The Checkers have lost the past two games, both against the league-leading and AHL record holding 18-game win streak Norfolk Admirals.  Over the course of last weekend, the Checkers were outscored by 10 goals, a slump they will look to overcome tonight and tomorrow.
  • After spending the first two months of the year atop the division, and as one of the best teams in the Western Conference, the Checkers have slipped to seventh in the west, and are barely holding onto a playoff berth.   A LOT can change in only a month, and there is still plenty of time for the Checkers to make it back to the top spot in their division.
  • The Checkers and Rivermen have nearly identical special teams records. Each rank in the top ten in both the penalty kill and power play.
About the Checkers
  • Justin Peters and Mike Murphy each have one start and one win against the Rivermen.  Peters will start tonight, with Murphy starting tomorrow night.
  • Bobby Sanguinetti was returned (again) from the Hurricanes after a game in Winnipeg on Sunday.
  • Zach Boychuk, in 4 games against Peoria, has five points (3G, 2A).
  • AJ Jenks, who has faced the Rivermen only twice since becoming a Checker, has three assists.
  • Brody Sutter, cousin of Brett and Brandon, arrives in Charlotte today to join the Checkers since his Western Hockey League junior team failed to make the playoffs.  You can follow him on twitter:  @Sutts19.
  •  Side note:  Brody played for the Lethbridge Hurricanes, in the middle of Alberta, which is VERY much a land-locked province, and I would be surprised to hear that Alberta had ever experienced a Hurricane before…
  • According to Paul Branecky, due to clear day roster rules and the fact the Checkers currently have so many injuries to defensemen, Justin Shugg is not eligible to play.  He will be a healthy scratch.

About the Rivermen

Danny Syvret won the Memorial Cup as a London Knight with Bryan Rodney, Corey Perry and a number of other NHL superstars. He leads all Rivermen defensemen with 41 points. (Photo- J. Propst)

  • The Rivermen’s parent club, the St. Louis Blues, currently sits in first place in the NHL.
  • Just a month ago, the Rivermen’s Calder Cup playoff future was looking bleak, especially after trading away their starting goaltender Ben Bishop.  Since he was traded to Ottawa, Jake Allen has gone 5-2 for Peoria, and his team is on a roll.
  • In four games against Charlotte, T.J. Hensick has four points (2G, 2A).  Hensick also leads the Rivermen in points this season with 65 (20G, 45A).
  • Danny Syvret leads all Rivermen defensemen with 41 points (7G, 34A), and is fourth on his team in this category.  In four games against the Checkers, he has four assists.

Gametime:  7:00 p.m. EST

Charlotte Radio: WBCN 1660 AM
Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,
Peoria Blog: The Rivermen Blog
Officials
Referees: David Banfield (#44), Ian Croft (#87)
Linesmen:  Joe DeMizio (#3), Jean Menard (#12)
Unrelated personal note:  I promise to do better about updating!  I can count on three fingers the number of days I’ve had away from work since the beginning of February, but I do believe I’m going to have time off in April… thank goodness!  Go see the Hunger Games on Thursday night!  I hear my name might be in the credits…

Gameday: Norforlk Admirals at Charlotte Checkers

Norfolk Admirals (43-18-1-2) at Charlotte Checkers (32-20-3-5)

  • The Admirals hold the number one spot in the AHL with 89 points. The Checkers are eighth in the league with 72 points.
  • Charlotte is 3-2-1-0 against Norfolk this year.  This weekend’s games are the last meetings of the two teams in 2012 (unless of course they meet in the Calder Cup Finals).  In the points match-up, Charlotte has taken seven points, while Norfolk has six.
  • The Admirals have a 16 game winning streak.  Yes, 16 games, which is over one-fifth of the season, straight.  They last lost in Springfield on February 5.
  • Norfolk has a winning record against every team they have played except for Albany. A sweep of this weekend’s games by the Checkers would change that statistic to include Charlotte as one of the only teams who could beat the Ads this season.
Norfolk Notes:
  • In six games against Charlotte, Cory Conacher has seven points (3G, 4A).  He leads all AHL rookies with 68 points, and is third overall in points as well (31G, 37A).
  • Norfolk goaltender Jaroslav Janus is 2-2 against Charlotte (3.27 GAA, .894 SV%).  Regular starter Dustin Tokarski is under recall with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Checkers notes:
  • Mike Murphy should get the start tonight.  He last played on Sunday, when he posted a 4-0 shutout against the Midwest division leading Chicago Wolves.  In two games against Norfolk this year, Murphy is 1-1.  His numbers on the year are pretty outstanding, with a 16-11-2-1 record (2.58 GAA, 0.912 SV%).
  • In six games against Norfolk, Chris Terry leads the Checkers with eight assists.
  • Four of Charlotte’s top scorers against Norfolk are not with the Checkers for tonight’s matchup.  Jon Matsumoto was traded in January, and Jersome Samson, Bobby Sanguinetti and Drayson Bowman are all with the Hurricanes.
  • Bobby Sanguinetti is still in Raleigh with the big club.  He had 13:45 minutes of ice time in last night’s 2-0 win over the league-leading St. Louis Blues.  My fingers are crossed the Hurricanes send him down for tonight’s Checkers game…
  • Rasmus Rissanen has missed the past five games with an upper body injury.  He participated in the full morning skate today and looked as if he could go tonight.
  • Based on the absence of key forwards, I assume today’s morning skate was optional, so I’m not going to read to much into three missing skaters.
  • Justin Krueger is still out with a broken hand.  He did skate later in practice wearing a yellow no-contact jersey.

Gametime:  7:00 p.m. EST

Charlotte Radio: None

 

Norfolk Twitter: @NorfolkAdmirals@BeekerAdmirals

 

Officials:
Referee:  Jeff Smith (#49)
Linesman: Ben Shiley (#21), Mark Hamlett (#81)

Gameday: Oklahoma City at Charlotte

 Oklahoma City (34-14-2-3) at Charlotte (30-19-2-3)

  • Alex Plante and Zach Boychuk battle along the boards in Charlotte. (Photo - J. Propst)

    Oklahoma City holds the top spot in the AHL with 73 points (to Charlotte’s 65).  Although the Barons have dominated the season this year, they haven’t been able to conquer the Checkers.  Charlotte leads the series 4-1-1, with the Barons having only one win in regulation.

  • Both Charlotte and Oklahoma City are without their starting goaltenders.  Earlier this week, Yann Danis was recalled by Edmonton and Mike Murphy by Carolina.  Neither team is struggling with their number two goalies though.  David LeNeveau is 13-6-2, and has a 2.00 GAA and .926 SV%.  John Muse is 9-3-1 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 SV%.
  • Tonight marks former Checkers captain Bryan Rodney’s first return to Charlotte.  He was traded last week by the Anaheim Ducks to the Edmonton Oilers for centerman Ryan O’Marra.
  • In games against Oklahoma City this season, Brett Sutter and Bobby Sanguinetti lead the Checkers with five points each.  Sutter’s two goals and three assists come in only five appearances.  Sanguinetti has one goal and four assists in six games.
  • When you peruse Oklahoma City’s statistics, you don’t see a lot of leaders in the point categories, but what you do see, is an unbelievable penalty kill and ability to keep the opposing team from scoring goals.  They’ve scored 156 goals this season, but allowed only 113.  By contrast, Charlotte has scored 152 goals, and only allowed 145.

Roster notes:

  • Jason Shaya took part in the morning skate, but David Caruso will back up John Muse tonight.  It’s his third recall for the Checkers.  I want to know when they are going to #PutShayaIn
  • The Checkers had 12 forwards and six defensemen on the ice this morning.  Tonight could mark Chris Durno’s return since being injured on New Year’s Even in Chicago, though based on his extensive post-skate work with the coaching staff, as the Magic 8 Ball says, “Outlook Not Good.”    If Durno can’t go, Charlotte will need to make a recall, or dress a front office person such as Nathan Beasley, who tells me he can’t skate, which might be a tough weakness to overcome.
  • Chris Murray, who hasn’t played a game since January 17, skated during the morning skate today, however he was in a no-contact sweater.
  • Riley Nash also skated in a limited capacity this morning in a yellow sweater.  He last played on February 10 in Milwaukee.
  • Mike Murphy, Jerome Samson and Drayson Bowman remain with the Hurricanes.  Cam Ward has been practicing with the team, and so has backup netminder Brian Boucher who suffered a groin injury in December, so Murphy may return to Charlotte soon.

Gametime:  7:00 p.m. EST


Charlotte Twitter: @CheckersHockey@PaulBranecky,
Oklahoma City Twitter: @OKC_Barons@SoonerPenguin@AHLBarons
Oklahoma City Blogs:  A New Ice Age 

Officials

Referee: David Banfield (#44)
Linesmen: Jean Menard (#12), Joe DeMizio (#3)
Let’s Go Checkers!