The Charlotte Checkers plays the first game of a four game trip tonight in Bridgeport. Three of the four games are against below- .500 level teams, the fourth is against the Penguins, who lead not only the East division, but the entire Eastern conference. I hope the Checkers can squeeze at least six points out of this roadtrip, but a win against the Penguins would be HUGE.
The Checkers are 4-0-1 against Bridgeport and Adirondak, which are three of the four games this week, and the bottom two teams in the Eastern Conference. Both Mike Murphy and Justin Pogge have been strong against these squads. As always, the Penguins are the most challenging. The Checkers are 2-3-1 against Wilkes-Barre, and Pogge has had one very volatile game against them which resulted in him getting pulled. He’s gotten five of the starts, which include our two wins against the rival squad. As the standings are now, the Checkers would meet the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs, so this game is going to be crucial for both teams.
The playoff race is tight right now. Charlotte and Norfolk are within a point of each other, and finishing in our division third or better is going to be crucial. Second would be ideal, guaranteeing home-ice advantage, but with the 2-3-2 playoff format in the AHL, it is often not as much of an advantage as the 2-2-1-1-1 format in the NHL.
After this week, the Checkers have three games that will be crucial to the other Eastern Conference division against the Sharks and Whale. Both of these teams are fighting to make the playoffs, and each and every point is needed for them to make it. While Charlotte continues to make a strong case for the playoffs, with even a bit of cushion, the Atlantic Division will likely only send three teams to the post season so they will have targets on each team they play in order to capitalize on each and every point.