I know that for many, 13 is considered an unlucky number. But it happens to be one of my favorites. Good things seem to happen in and on 13s for me. I got my Master’s degree in 2013. Friday the 13th tends to be a very good luck day for me. I bought my car on the 13th of August. I like 13. And I like the Checkers chances during their last 13 games of the 2013-14 season.
The AHL has a fantastic playoff primer that is updated daily, and can be found here, but I wanted to focus on the matchups during the Checkers month of play.
San Antonio – Two home games against the Rampage remain on March 21 & 23, with a third game in San Antonio as a part of a three-in-three weekend in April. The Checkers are 4-1 against the Rampage this season, and all but one of those games was decided by only one goal, including a shootout win on March 7. The only two-goal game was the Checkers only loss, at San Antonio in November. While the Rampage sit in last place in the Western Conference, but the games this weekend could be very close if history repeats itself.
Iowa – The Checkers haven’t seen Iowa since mid-October, during the second weekend of the AHL season, and face them two times at home on March 25 and 26. Charlotte lost both games in Des Moines. The Wild are in a tough Midwest division, in which all of the four other teams (Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, Chicago and Rockford) all sit in a playoff position. The Wild are currently in 12th place in the Western Conference.
Oklahoma City – Of their final 13 games, the Checkers will face the Barons four more times. Two at home, and two away. As I write this, each team has played 63 games, and only one point separates them in the standings, with OKC sitting in 9th place in the Western conference, and the Checkers are in 10th. The matchup between Charlotte and Oklahoma City has been a dramatic one this season. The Checkers are 6-1-1 against the Barons. After winning the first six games of the season in a dramatic fashion, the Checkers have lost their last two against Oklahoma City here at home, which were in early in February. Needless to say, the key to the Checkers playoff hopes may lie in these four remaining games against the Barons, because if the Checkers can take the much needed points against a fierce opponent, they may have a chance of making the post season.
Grand Rapids – On paper, Grand Rapids may be the toughest opponent the Checkers have to face in their remaining 13 games. They were last year’s Calder Cup champions, and are certainly in contention to repeat. They sit atop their Midwest division, and are second place in the Western Conference. The Checkers split a pair of games in Michigan in October, including a dramatic 5-0 shutout win by John Muse. Taking a couple of points from the reigning Calder Cup champions will be a big victory for the Checkers.
Milwaukee – During the final weekend of the regular season , the Checkers have a quick two game roadtrip to the Midwest where they will face the Admirals and IceHogs. Two years ago, Milwaukee was a sight of heartbreak. I’d traveled to Milwaukee for the Checkers final game, and the winner of the game was playoff bound, the loser would have to cross their fingers and hope other games around the league turned out in their favor. An overtime game would have resulted in both teams locking in a playoff berth. Well, the Admirals won the game, the wildcard situation didn’t go Charlotte’s way, and the Checkers were eliminated from playoff contention. To make a long story short, the game against Milwaukee will be huge. The two teams are currently separated by only five points, and that margin could be much smaller in April. Can the Checkers pull out a win? Let’s hope so! Charlotte is 2-1 this year against a tough Admirals squad, with both victories coming from John Muse.
Rockford – Charlotte faces the IceHogs for the eighth and final time this year on the last weekend of the AHL season. They are 4-2-0-1 against Rockford, who sit in eight place in the Western Conference. They have four more points than Charlotte, and have the same number of games played, but fewer games in the win column. The IceHogs have nine OT and shootout losses has a lot to do with the extra points, as Charlotte has only three OT and shootout losses. There’s no doubt, the post season hopes could come down to this final game in Rockford!
So…. Where would you put the playoff outlook for the Charlotte Checkers this year?