I sat in front of my computer for a long time debating what to write about re: this afternoon’s Checkers game. And to be honest, I’m taking the cop out route and going to summarize it very briefly. It was hard to watch… seven goals allowed by the Checkers, a weak offensive effort, and questionable defending led to seven goals allowed by the Checkers (though, if Brody Sutter hadn’t received a relatively bogus call late in the game for alleged interference, I believe the score would have been 6-3, but oh well, a loss is a loss.)
For the second night in a row, Charlotte’s special teams struggled. The powerplay was only able to convert on one of four attempts, and the penalty kill allowed two goals on seven opportunities by the Wild.
Brendan Woods took a brutal hit from Raphael Bussieres. It was ugly. Woods was thrown face first into the glass at an awkward angle and had to be helped off the ice. The five-minute boarding call Bussieres received hardly seems enough for what could be a very serious injury, and it will be interesting to see if anything further comes from the AHL. The Checkers Manny Malhotra took matters into his own hands and received a number of penalties, including a 10-minute instigating misconduct, a two-minute instigating minor and a five-minute fighting major.
Coach Jeff Daniels could not pinpoint one particular downfall of the game. “It’s more about being pros. You’ve got to bring it every night. You can’t pick and choose when you want to play.”
I’m one of those crazy people who likes to find the good in things even when the score is 7-2, so here are a few things I noticed:
- I liked the physicality of the Checkers. Brendan Woods, before he was boarded, was incredibly physical in his play. Though the scrums didn’t amount to a result on the score sheet, seeing the players stand up for one another and keep the game physical was a definite positive (Matt Corrente, Nicolas Blanchard and Manny Malhotra all had fighting majors). While I rarely focus on fighting in hockey, I think the scrums that did happen came at appropriate times and showed passion and grit from the home team.
- Manny Malhotra is pretty amazing to watch. Unfortunately for us, I don’t think he’ll be in Charlotte for long, so enjoy it while you can, Checkers fans! He’s a NHL player, and plays with great passion and integrity. Like Dan Ellis last season, I’m glad I had the opportunity to see him on Checkers home ice, and wish him the best in the NHL.
- This is the only time Checkers fans have to see the Iowa Wild at home this season. After this weekend’s games, I’m okay with that fact.
- It’s early in the season. This was only the Checkers fourth game, and there is plenty of time to make adjustments. It’s too early to panic about a poor showing in two home games.
From my off-the-ice perspective, Nic Blanchard is an incredible alternate captain. So is Chris Terry. Obviously, only those in the room really know what it takes though to lead the Checkers. With the team three weeks into the regular season, they are still without a full time captain. Any picks for a potential successor to the awesome Brett Sutter?
Completely unrelated to the game observations:
- I know I saw the new seamless glass last weekend at the Checkers open house, but seriously people, it’s amazing. I am so grateful to an organization that puts as much as they do into the fan experience as the Checkers do.
- THERE IS AN ORGAN! I’m such a sucker for history and sports culture, that hearing an organ at a hockey game made me grin from ear to ear. OK, it’s probably a keyboard, and I wish it was being played in a prominent location (and please, don’t let it be just sound effect.. but I’m pretty sure it was live!). But it’s awesome. In my own grad school studies I came across a guy who wrote a dissertation on the history of the hockey organ, and I was fascinated. I admit it, I’m a nerd.
- The new Checkers jerseys… wow. I like them even more in action. I miss the Hurricane warning flags, but they home white sweaters look so sharp on the ice. Way to go for a great new design! (And despite swearing off the purchase of any more jerseys, I might have to invest in one!)
- Nathan Beasley can rock a bow tie like nobody’s business. And no, he didn’t pay me to say that.
- I apologize for wearing brand new hand knit socks to the arena. I was so excited by their beautiful Checkers colored stripes that I hoped would be lucky, and they failed me. I promise not to wear them again, for fear of bad karma the yarn may hold in it.
- I am going to try and do a better job of writing over here. I’ve got close to a million ideas, but I’ve written approximately 120 pages of academic papers in the past few months, with more to go, so finding time to write about hockey is often a challenge. The good news is, I graduate on DECEMBER 14, so freedom is coming (and an epic party after the fact!)