Observations from the Checkers 3-2 Twelve Round Shootout loss to the Hershey Bears:
1. All in all great effort by the Checkers especially being down to only 11 forwards two of which have only recently joined the team from the ECHL.
2. Even strength, the Checkers were the better team. The Bears PP made all the difference. The Bears just park the massive Graham Mink in front of the net and he sets a great screen. This completely caused the first goal as Murphy did not get a clean look at the point shot and it wound up going between his legs.
3. The second PP goal is on Murphy, it was just him and Micflikier at a hard angle and Murphy left a gap up top for the shooter–it was almost the same goal Sutter had for a game winner in the Playoffs last year against the WBS baby Pens. The PK unit did a decent job and had all but killed that penalty off.
4. The cross ice pass from Beca to Boychuck was a beauty and Zach easily put it away to tie the game. The team looked a little down after the second but came right back out and out hustled the Bears in the third. great bounce back period.
5. Speaking of not finishing the Checkers has a ton of chances in the first (odd man rushes, nice passes etc…) that they could not finish and it came back to bite them. Pistilli missed more chances than I care to count he hustled like crazy all night but if he had finished a few times…….
6. The Terry–Matsumoto—Blanchard line was the only one Coach Daniels did not tinker with being down a foward. The other 3 lines were a mix and match of whatever wing was fresh at the time.
7. Sean Dolan held his own as fourth line center and Matt Beca played much better as the game went on. Justin Soryal by far had the least TOI and did nothing offensively and considering they only had 11 forwards it makes you wonder that if everyone is healthy he might be looking at a few press box games.
8. The defense looked good all night and everyone jumped up in the rushes a little bit to give some of the forwards a break.
9. Murphy while he made some SUPER saves looked a bit off—he got beat bad twice as Hershy hit the post both times, spit out more rebounds than usual and bit too hard on some players moves. Of course that is where he made one of the best saves I’ve seen in awhile laying on his back with an open net on Matt Ford–you could see his face in the replay and he was not a happy camper.
10. Everyone that was there reacted in some way to Micflikier just getting CRUSHED by Rasmus Rissanen behind the net. Micflickier got him back in front the Checkers bench (it looked like an elbow).
11. The refs did a nice job of letting everyone play and the only so-so penalty was Bellmore against Micflickier which was more of a big guy on a little guy and the little guy doing some acting. But other than that everything else was pretty obvious and nothing ticky-tac.
12. Overtime was basically two very tired teams playing for the shoot-out. The only real good chance was for Hershey with 3 seconds left when the Checkers just stood around and let them set up a one time deflect play that Murphy did a nice job stopping.
13. 12 round shoot-out and it is pretty easy to breakdown. If the Checkers went high on Sabourin they beat him–when Hershey went five hole on Murphy they beat him. The Checkers got everything on net while Hershy actually had a complete whiff on a shot and quite a few wide. Pistilli redeemd himself with a really nice forehand backhand move that I thought for sure was going to be the game winner in the sixth round. Blanchard came up big in the 11th (never remember him being anywhere near a shoot out before) and Sanguinetti rung the post the the 12th. I have no idea what Murphy was doing on the final shooter, he looked like a soccer goalie that had to guess a side. Mitchell did not have that great of a move but oh well.
14. Again, great game against what is a REALLY good Hershey team if the Checkers play even strength hockey again like that tonight and shore up the special teams they will be in good shape for a win.
Editor’s note: Once again, huge thank you to Allan for his post-game thoughts. While I was able to watch the game online, you just don’t REALLY see what’s happening on a tiny computer screen. The few thoughts I have are as follows.
- I was SO IMPRESSED by the Checkers. This was playoff style hockey, if you ask me, and the team came out with the same intensity they did last April when they beat Hershey.
- Considering Charlotte has MAJOR injury problems right now (Nash, Staal, Durno, Shugg, Roy) and the three call-ups in Raleigh, it was a great team effort.
- Mike Murphy is a goalie god. Sure, he wasn’t perfect, but he made some saves that were just jaw-dropping, awe inspiring. I couldn’t believe them!
- Allan and I definitely agree… SPECIAL TEAMS lost the game for Charlotte. I knew it was going to come down to that monster Power Play and Penalty Kill by the Bears, and it did. I’m looking forward to another awesome match up tonight!
- Derek Joslin was recalled by the Hurricanes. Chris Murray is on his way to Charlotte from Florida.
- Jared Staal took part in the optional skate this morning. Hopefully he can go tonight, as 12 forwards would definitely be better than 11!