Justins score, Checkers win!

Another fine showing by the Charlotte Checkers today with a win against the Lake Erie Monsters.  This game had a very different feel and pace from yesterday, with the coaching staff playing around with the lines throughout the contest.  Defense pairings and forward lines were constantly in flux, which resulted in sloppy play by the Checkers at times.  Justin Shugg netted two goals, and Justin Soryal scored the game winner in a 3-1 win over the Monsters.

Thoughts and observations:

  • Brett Sutter.  All I can say is wow.  If this guy doesn’t have a letter on his sweater by the end of camp, I’m going to be shocked. He was feisty on the ice, using his body, taking hits, and making plays.  He seems more mature on the ice, and has a greater level of confidence in his play.
  • Zach Boychuk seemed subdued.  I noticed this in Raleigh last week also, but he’s quieter, not as chirpy as he was last season, and very deflated/  Hopefully, he can find a way to make this stint in the AHL a positive thing and a learning process.
  • Justin Peters made his first start in a Checkers sweater.  He made 26 saves during the game.  I think the biggest learning curve may be with the skaters in front of him, adjusting to Peters being in net.  Half of the skaters today returned from last season’s squad, and had never played in front of Peters before.  With time, this confidence level should increase.  Peters still seems unsure, and some of his saves seemed sloppy, and was out of position on the goal that was scored on him.  I think with time, he should return to the top-prospect form he was in Albany a couple of years ago.
  • Matt Pistilli impressed once again.  He reads plays well, and has a great eye for setting them up.  I look forward to seeing this guy in Charlotte all season.
  • Justin Soryal is going to be a great player to watch.  He’s clearly physical, and knows how to use his fists, but I think he has a lot more hockey potential than many enforcers.  While I’m certain he will take plenty of penalties this season, I think they will be the right kind, and not leave the team shorthanded on the ice.
And thoughts on the roster:
  • Before the game, a few of us made a list of where we think the Checkers roster will stand by opening night.  This is all speculation, but we’ll see what comes of it.
  • There are essentially four or five forwards fighting for one or two roster spots.  Depending on how long Drayson Boyman and Riley Nash stay in Raleigh will determine how many players make the Checkers for opening night.  The guys who I believe are all on the bubble include Justin Shugg, Cedric McNicoll, Mike McKenzie and Jared Staal.  Matt Pistilli may have been a bubble player, but not after this weekend’s preseason games.
  • Justin Shugg, who is in my opinion one of those player “on the bubble” made a strong case for himself to stay in Charlotte.  He’s a clutch player, and may be able to beat out one of last season’s players for a spot in Charlotte.
  • On the D front, assuming that Justin Faulk returns to Charlotte (and I think he will), one or two will probably need to be sent to Florida unless the Checkers plan to carry seven or eight Defensemen.  Ryan Donald is the most likely candidate to go to Florida, and I would put Rasmus Rissanen or Mathieu Roy as the other outside candidate for that move
  • I see at least three or four players all worthy of wearing a letter this season, and am anxious to see who ends up with one.  Chris Durno is an obvious leader, and Nicolas Blanchard is the only returning captain from last season to the Checkers.  Brett Sutter is proving to be a huge leader, and I have always been supportive of Chris Terry in a leadership role.  Only time will tell.

8 thoughts on “Justins score, Checkers win!

  1. Thanks for the updates…..you appear to be a really big fan of the team. Makes fans from out of town (like me) able to keep up with the team easier when huge fans like yourself do blogs like this. Thank you for your large presence on this blog!

      1. I’m the same way, being that I live over an hour away from Charlotte. I definitely think it’s gonna be a big year for the Checkers. I look forward to a large amount of Checkers updates from you and to reading the blog. Hoping to see a gigantic crowd on Opening night!

  2. I think that Sutter will eventually be a depth player for the Hurricanes (bottom 6), I have (very small) concern over Peters and what he is compared to what I thought he would be two years ago. I was disappointed to see Boychuk sent back down, but thats just the way things go sometimes.

    On a personal note, glad I stumbled upon your blog : )

    1. Agreed on Sutter. That guy has impressed me like CRAZY this camp… both with the Canes and Charlotte. He is going to be a great great asset to the organization.

      Peters… time will tell. Murphy is a really stellar number one for us, so the Checkers have that going for him. Peters just needs to find his game again.

      As for Boychuk, he seems to have lost his edge? Maybe new scenery of a totally new team would be what is best for him.

      And thanks so much for reading!!!!!

  3. So we have 14 F’s and 7 D without Nash and Faulk. So who stays and who goes?

    Here are the Bubble Players
    F- Staal, Mckenzie, McNicoll, Shugg,
    D- Rissanen, Roy, Kruger

    In the F’s I like Cedric and Justin to stay
    In the D’s I think Kruger and Roy will stay, Especially since Kruger Came from Europe to Play, I wasn’t super impressed with Roy.

    1. I definitely agree with you.

      Paul Branecky reported this: Lines from practice: Bowman-Matsumoto-Samson; Boychuk-Sutter-Terry; Blanchard-Durno-Pistilli/McKenzie; Soryal-Staal-Shugg/McNicoll.

      Obviously, replace Nash with Staal’s Center spot. According to the team roster, the Checkers only have 3 RW’s including Staal…. but I know many others can play both wings. I hope the Checkers can keep a third F, cause I really would like to see McKenzie stay.

      Another interesting rule implication is the veteran rule which determines veteran status by games played (exempt = 261-320 games, veteran is more than 320 games). The Checkers can, at most, play five veterans, and one “exempt” veteran each night. Right now, we have 3 guys who could qualify as “exempt” and three who are true vets. (The exempt guys can fall under the vet numbers though.) Basically, we are MAXED out on the players with more than 320 games under their belt, which is fine for now, but could be an issue later on.

      You send a guy like Roy to Florida, and it leaves us with one younger player and less Vets to fit into the numbers. Just a point about the veteran thing, last year we didn’t have any guys who had that many games, and now we have six. Quite a change!

      I wish I could get out to a practice this week. It’s going to be a tough decision determining the opening night roster for this club!

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