Tonight, the Checkers begin the first game of their three-in-three, and face a very different Admirals squad than the one they last saw on January 3. The month of January was not a kind one to the Ads. During that month, they went 3-9-1, and took a major tumble in the standings. They currently sit in 19th place in the league. To say they are slumping might be an understatement, but we’ve all seen teams go through this kind of thing, and it doesn’t take much to snap out of it. I for one, wouldn’t mind their slump continuing for a couple more days.
The University of Wisconsin Badger band is going to be at the game, something Sean Dolan should enjoy, as he’s a recent graduate. Dolan made his AHL debut one month ago in Milwaukee. I think having the Badger band at a game is even cooler than the intermission cheese races that are famous in Milwaukee.
After four games this season, the Checkers lead the series with Milwaukee 3-1. The Midwest Division as a whole has been good to Charlotte. The Checkers have earned 23 of their 60 points against division rivals, and have a 11-4-0-1 record.
Stats and observations:
- Charlotte and Milwaukee have one more thing in common, and that’s the most recent opponent. The Admirals lost in Texas on Wednesday night with the abysmal score of 6-3. Last Saturday, Charlotte also faced Texas, but came out the winners of that contest.
- Stopping Chris Mueller will be a key for the Checkers tonight. In four games against Charlotte, he has seven points (4G, 3A), and is the only Admiral with a positive +/- rating against the Checkers. Mueller also leads the Admirals in points with 43 on the season (21G, 12A) and is a -6.
- Bobby Sanguinetti is on a 10-game point streak, the longest one in the AHL last night. He’s had a point per game since January 12 (14 points in 10 games!).
- Charlotte has the league’s second-best Power Play right now, and will be matched up against the Admirals 26th-“best” Penalty Kill. Yikes for the Ads, but good for the Checkers.
- As far as the Penalty Kill goes, Charlotte has made it into the top 10, and currently sits in seventh. The Admirals, despite struggling in the win column, maintain a strong power play, and are number 10 overall.
- Milwaukee has only scored one short handed goal this season, which is good news to Charlotte, who have allowed eight on the season, including a disgusting 5-on-3 shortie in Texas on Saturday.
- The Checkers have faced three different goalies in four games against the Admirals, If it’s regular starter Jeremy Smith tonight, he’ll be a familiar face to many of the Checkers. Smith is a former Plymouth Whaler, and some of his teammates included Justin Peters, Chris Terry, Brett Bellemore, AJ Jenks and Michal Jordan. He’s 1-1 against Charlotte this year. He has an overall record of 18-15-1-1, with a very respectable 2.47 GAA and .910 SV%. Of course, he might be battling a few demons, as he’s only won two games in his last ten starts, while back up Atte Engren won his past two games on Sunday and Tuesday of this week.
Other Checkers News and Notes:
- Justin Shugg is healthy again after missing almost two months due to injury, but has been returned to the Florida Everblades where he started the season. It makes me very sad that the Checkers are down to only one Justin after beginning the season with a very promising four.
- Chris Murray and Chris Durno practiced with the Checkers yesterday, but did not travel to Milwaukee and Peoria this weekend.
Be sure to check out The Admirals Roundtable after the game for a post-game write up. Yours truly has to work, and won’t be able to spew my thoughts on this one. Let’s Go Checkers!
Gametime: 8:00 p.m. EST
Charlotte Radio: WBCN 1660 AM