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Weekly Report: Feb. 10, 2014

Charlotte Checkers Pink in the Rink
The Checkers returned home from their longest road trip in three months but still couldn't get back in the win column as they head into the AHL All-Star break on a four-game winless streak.

Back-to-back losses in Abbotsford on Tuesday and Wednesday led to two defeats at the hands of the Oklahoma City Barons at Time Warner Cable Arena, including an overtime loss on Sunday, to drop the Checkers to 0-3-1 in their last four games. That comes on the heels of their best stretch of the season, as they had won eight of their previous 10 games from Jan. 3 to Feb. 1.

Charlotte is now six points out of a playoff spot as it heads into a two-game set against the Abbotsford Heat at Raleigh’s PNC Arena on Friday and Sunday. What is technically a five-game home stand ends with a game against Norfolk on Feb. 18 – their last home game in nearly a month as they will then play a franchise-record 10 consecutive road games.

Week in Review

Team Statistics

  • Overall record
    22-23-2
  • Home record
    12-14-1
  • Road record
    10-9-1
  • Last week's record
    0-3-1
  • Last 10 games
    5-4-1
  • Division Standings
    4th
  • Conference Standings
    12th
  • League Standings
    23rd

Abbotsford 7, Checkers 1

Charlotte gave up four goals in the game’s first 13 minutes on their way to a 7-1 defeat at the hands of the Abbotsford Heat on Tuesday – their AHL-high third defeat by six or more goals this season and the largest road losing margin in Charlotte’s four AHL seasons. The game in Abbotsford marked the first of four meetings between the West Division rivals this season, with all four games taking place in the span of 13 days. Philippe Cornet scored the lone goal for Charlotte, which got eight saves from starter John Muse, who exited the game after allowing the first four goals, and 24 more from Mike Murphy. Full recap

Abbotsford 4, Checkers 3

In the second of a two-game set in Abbotsford on Wednesday, Charlotte rallied from a trio of one-goal deficits but ultimately gave up the winning goal with 3:13 remaining in regulation to suffer its first consecutive losses since Dec. 20 and 21. Rookie defenseman Danny Biega scored his first two professional goals, Zach Boychuk scored his team leading 22nd of the season and Brett Sutter picked up three assists as the Checkers fell to 0-2 against Abbotsford this season despite 24 more saves from Mike Murphy. Full recap

OKC 8, Checkers 5

After taking a 3-1 lead early in the second period, the Checkers gave up six unanswered goals in an 8-5 loss to Oklahoma City during the team’s annual Pink in the Rink game at Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday. Charlotte got goals from five different players, including cousins Brody and Brett Sutter, who scored in the same game for the first time in their careers, as their losing streak hit three games. Aaron Palushaj, Michal Jordan and Mark Flood also found the back of the net for the Checkers, who scored twice in the game’s last 3:37 to get to within two. Starter John Muse allowed seven goals on 39 shots before making his second early exit in as many starts, with Mike Murphy stopping all five shots he faced in the final 7:31. The 13 total goals were one short of tying the Checkers' franchise record, while the eight goals allowed tied a franchise record. Charlotte lost for just the third time in team history when scoring five or more goals. Full recap

OKC 4, Checkers 3 (OT)

The Checkers earned a point for the first time in their last four games when Brody Sutter tied the game with 38 seconds remaining in regulation, but Oklahoma City’s Roman Horak scored off a tunover in overtime as Charlotte headed into the All-Star break with a 4-3 defeat at Time Warner Cable Arena on Sunday. Justin Shugg and Brendan Woods had Charlotte’s other goals and Mike Murphy made 26 saves as the Checkers’ winless streak hit four games (0-3-1), making it their longest since losing seven consecutive regulation games in November. After starting the season with six consecutive wins against division rival Oklahoma City, the Checkers have now lost each of the last two meetings. Full recap

Notables

Charlotte Checkers Pink in the Rink
  • The Checkers held their eighth annual Pink in the Rink event on Friday to raise money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer. Watch

Last Week's News

Bump in the Road

The Checkers' current four-game winless streak is their second-longest of the season, trailing a franchise-record, seven-game regulation losing streak from Nov. 2-19. It is also the longest active winless streak in the AHL. Prior to the current streak, the Checkers had won eight of their previous 10 games.

Before the streak started with a 7-1 loss in Abbotsford on Feb. 4, the Checkers ranked 10th in the Western Conference and were three points behind eighth-place Rockford, which had played five more games. Following their overtime loss to Oklahoma City on Feb. 9, they are 12th in the conference and six points behind eighth-place Rochester, which has played one fewer game.

Sutter Connection

In 58 Checkers games together, cousins Brett and Brody Sutter had never scored in the same game until each found the back of the net one time against Oklahoma City on Feb. 7. They had also never recorded points on the same goal until Brett assisted on Brody's game-tying goal with 38 seconds remaining in regulation one game later on Feb. 9.

Brett heads into the All-Star break with 10 points (3g, 7a) in his last eight games, while Brody has goals in back-to-back games for the first time in his AHL career after going 23 games without one. Dating back to last season's playoffs, five of Brody's last seven goals have come against Oklahoma City, including two game-winners and the game-tying goal in the last minute on Feb. 9.

Working Overtime

The Feb. 9 game against Oklahoma City was just the fifth time the Checkers have been to overtime this season - the fewest of any AHL team. That game marked the team's first loss in the five-minute, four-on-four period since April 12 of last season.

Charlotte is 3-2 in overtime games this season, including a 2-1 record in the five-minute period and a 1-1 record in the shootout.

High Score

The 13 total goals in Friday's 8-5 loss to Oklahoma City tied the second most in the league this season and the second-most in a Checkers game during their four AHL seasons, trailing only a 9-5 road victory at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Jan. 23, 2011. It tied the most ever in a game at Time Warner Cable Arena, a record set twice previously.

All three previous games in which the Checkers and their opponent combined for 13 or more goals in a single game were victories for Charlotte. Friday's game marked just the third time that the Checkers have lost a game despite scoring five or more goals and the first since the opening game of the 2011-12 season.

Goals Against

The Checkers' eight goals allowed to Oklahoma City on Friday tied the most in franchise history, a record set on two previous occasions. One of those was this season (an 8-1 loss to Hershey on Nov. 14) and all three were at home.

In their last four games, the Checkers have allowed seven, four, eight and four goals, respectively, to see their goals-against average for the season rise from 3.00 (20th AHL) to 3.23 (27th AHL).

Floodgates Open

Mark Flood scored his 11th goal of the campaign against Oklahoma City on Feb. 7 to set a new team record for most goals by a defenseman in a single season. Flood, who needed just 46 games to accomplish the feat, topped the old mark of 10 set by Bobby Sanguinetti in the 2011-12 season and tied his own career high set with Manitoba in 2010-11.

Flood, a 29-year-old veteran who scored just one goal in 52 games in the Russian KHL last season, ranks second in terms of goals by AHL defensemen and is tied for third among league blueliners with six power-play goals.

Biega Breakthrough

After going without a goal in his first 38 professional games with Charlotte dating back to last season, Danny Biega scored twice in the Checkers' 4-3 loss to Abbotsford on Feb. 5. It marked the second multi-goal game by a Charlotte defenseman this season, with Matt Corrente also scoring twice at Milwaukee on Dec. 27. Biega went on to record an assist against Oklahoma City on Feb. 7, extending his point streak to a career-long three games (2g, 2a). Of his 11 points this season, seven have come in his last 10 games (2g, 5a).

This season's two-goal performances by Biega and Corrente mark the fifth and sixth times that a player has scored his first two Checkers goals in the same game (Zach Boychuk on Oct. 17, 2010, Cedric McNicoll on Jan. 14, 2011, Jeremy Welsh on Oct. 27, 2012, and Beau Schmitz on March 15, 2013). Biega was the third player to score his first two professional goals in the same Checkers game, joining Welsh and Schmitz.

Boychuk Burst

Boychuk Career Goals / Game

2009-10 .29
2010-11 .37
2011-12 .33
2012-13 .47
2013-14 .55
Checkers forward Zach Boychuk has seven goals in his last seven games, including the second and third hat tricks of his career on Jan. 24 and Feb. 1. He leads the Checkers and ranks fourth in the AHL with 22 goals, which are just one shy of his career high set last season. He has hit the 20-goal mark in the AHL in each of his four seasons with the Checkers.

Boychuk's 88 career Checkers goals are one short of tying Chris Terry for the franchise's all-time lead. He already leads the franchise with 40 power-play goals, including 12 this season that are tied for the most in the AHL and for the Checkers' single-season record.

Quick Hits

  • The Checkers ended a season-long, 0-for-21 drought on the power play with Justin Shugg's goal on Feb. 9. It was their first man-advantage goal since going 5-for-7 against Oklahoma City on Jan. 24 (five games earlier)
  • Charlotte's one power-play opportunity received against Oklahoma City on Feb. 7 was their fewest of the season. They also went 0-for-1 three times last season.
  • After allowing a total of 11 goals in his last two starts, neither of which resulted in a completed game, John Muse's goals-against average for the season has risen from 2.39 to 2.71.
  • Chris Terry has gone 12 games without a goal, which is his longest stretch since he tied his career high, set once previously, with a 13-game drought from Nov. 24-Dec. 21 of last season.
  • Brett Sutter's seven shots on goal on Feb. 7 tied his most-ever in a regular-season game, a record set once previously in his rookie season with Quad City on April 11, 2008. He had nine in a playoff game with Abbotsford on April 21, 2010.
  • The Checkers are 10-6-1 against fellow West Division opponents this season, making it the only division they have a winning record against. They have lost each of their last four divisional games and will play each of their next two against divisional opponents.
  • The Checkers have scored three or more goals in 14 of their last 18 games. They are 20-8-1 when scoring three or more, though they are 0-2-1 in their last three, and are 2-15-1 when scoring fewer than three.
  • The Checkers have lost each of their last three one-goal games after winning 10 of their previous 11.
  • In terms of winning percentage, February is historically the Checkers' best month with an all-time record of 19-11-6, though they are off to a 1-3-1 start this season.
  • Charlotte's two shorthanded goals are tied with Adirondack for the fewest in the league

Player Streaks

  • Brett Sutter has points in each of his last three games (Feb. 5-9: 1g, 4a)
  • Zach Boychuk has assists and points in each of his last three games (Feb. 5-9: 1g, 3a)
  • Brody Sutter has goals and points in each of his last two games (Feb. 7-9: 2g, 0a)
  • Aaron Palushaj has points in each of his last two games (Feb. 7-9: 1g, 1a)
  • Justin Shugg has points in each of his last two games (Feb. 7-9: 1g, 1a)
  • Ryan Murphy has assists and points in each of his last two games (Feb. 7-9: 0g, 2a)

Milestones

  • Nicolas Blanchard is one shy of 450 professional games
  • Aaron Palushaj is one shy of 200 professional penalty minutes
  • Justin Shugg is two shy of 150 professional games
  • Chris Terry is four shy of 350 AHL games
  • Rasmus Rissanen is four shy of 200 Checkers/AHL/professional penalty minutes
  • Nicolas Blanchard is five shy of 800 professional penalty minutes
  • Matt Corrente is five shy of 500 professional penalty minutes

Injuries

  • Greg Nemisz - missed one game starting Feb. 9

Transactions

Incoming

  • Feb. 6 - (D) Beau Schmitz recalled to Charlotte from Carolina (NHL)
  • Feb. 6 - (C) Sean Dolan recalled to Charlotte from Carolina (NHL)

Outgoing

  • Feb. 7 - (C) A.J. Jenks released from professional tryout contract
  • Feb. 7 - (RW) Matthew Pistilli released from professional tryout contract

This Week's Games

Friday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. - Checkers vs. Abbotsford (in Raleigh)

  • Game played at Raleigh's PNC Arena, home of the Carolina Hurricanes

Sunday, Feb. 16 at 1:30 p.m. - Checkers vs. Abbotsford (in Raleigh)

  • Game played at Raleigh's PNC Arena, home of the Carolina Hurricanes
  • Postgame skate with the Checkers presented by U.S. National Whitewater Center. Click here to buy tickets
  • Trading card poster giveaway to the first 2,500 fans courtesy of Imagemark

By the Numbers

Team Statistics
CATEGORY RECORD AHL RANK LAST WEEK
Power play 21.3% 4th 22.3% (4th)
Penalty kill 80.8% 20th 81.3% (t-19th)
Goals per game 3.00 11th 3.00 (11th)
Shots per game 32.3 5th 32.1 (7th)
Goals allowed per game 3.23 27th 3.00 (20th)
Shots allowed per game 32.1 25th 31.7 (23rd)
Penalty minutes per game 14.8 8th 14.9 (8th)
Team Leaders
CATEGORY LEADER(S)
Points Aaron Palushaj (42), Zach Boychuk (40), Chris Terry (37)
Goals Zach Boychuk (22), Aaron Palushaj (17), Chris Terry (14)
Assists Aaron Palushaj (25), Chris Terry (23), Brett Sutter (19)
Power play goals Zach Boychuk (12), Chris Terry (7), Mark Flood (6)
Shorthanded goals Nicolas Blanchard, Brett Sutter (1)
Game-winning goals Aaron Palushaj (5), Chris Terry (3), four tied at (2)
Shots on goal Chris Terry (130), Aaron Palushaj (127), Zach Boychuk (122)
Penalty minutes Matt Corrente (81), Nicolas Blanchard (72), Rasmus Rissanen (59)
Plus/minus Greg Nemisz, Brody Sutter (+8), Matt Corrente (+2)
Wins John Muse (16), Mike Murphy (3)
Goals-against average John Muse (2.71), Mike Murphy (3.86)
Save percentage John Muse (.913), Mike Murphy (.883)

Checkers in the NHL

Carolina Hurricanes (26-22-9: 6th Metropolitan Division)
Player POS GP G A PTS PIM +/- NOTES
Zach Boychuk LW 9 1 3 4 0 2 Reassigned to Charlotte on Jan. 11
Elias Lindholm C 35 4 8 12 2 -8  
Manny Malhotra C 42 6 5 11 14 3 3rd NHL with 59.3 faceoff percentage
Aaron Palushaj RW 2 0 0 0 0 -1 Reassigned to Charlotte on Jan. 29
Brett Sutter C 17 1 1 2 9 -4 Reassigned to Charlotte on Jan. 11
Chris Terry LW 7 0 0 0 0 -3 Reassigned to Charlotte on Nov. 22
Goaltender GP RECORD GAA SV% SO NOTES
Justin Peters 21 7-9-4 2.50 .919 1 Played one game since Dec. 27

Checkers in the ECHL

Florida Everblades (25-16-4: 4th Eastern Conference)
Player POS GP G A PTS PIM +/- NOTES
Kyle Bonis F 41 16 11 27 11 +5 t-1st on team in goals
Austin Levi D 33 1 8 9 26 -1 5 points (1g, 4a) in last 8 games
Stefan Della Rovere F - - - - - - On injured reserve
Sean Dolan C 3 2 2 4 2 0 Recalled to Charlotte on Feb. 6
Beau Schmitz D 6 0 4 4 2 -3 Recalled to Charlotte on Feb. 6
Kellan Tochkin F 29 3 18 21 34 +4 Assigned to Evansville on Feb. 8
Goaltender GP RECORD GAA SV% SO NOTES
Jesse Deckert 9 6-1-2 2.71 .891 0 Injured - out for season
Paul Branecky
Author: Paul BraneckyEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.