1) The loss to Lake Erie yesterday afternoon was disappointing, however, the team has practically won every night for the past two weeks. I think the travel schedule and the number of games condensed into a short time caught up with them on Sunday’s quick turnaround game. That being said, every two points lost from here on out decreases the likelihood of making the post season by about 10 percent. Going into the yesterday’s game, the Checkers had a 48 percent chance of making the playoffs.
2) The big question regarding the departure of Justin Peters after the culmination of his conditioning stint was the ability of John Muse and Michael Murphy to steady the ship as Peters did. Well, that uncertainty was profoundly dispelled by both men over the past two weeks. Muse has won his past five straight games and Murphy is coming off a performance that Derek Wilkinson called, “the best game he’s played in three seasons.”
3) If the NHL asks the AHL to adopt 3-on-3 for overtime after the normal 4-on-4 period, then the shootouts have to be a best of three rounds. In the NHL, players have the luxury of getting on a charter plane after the game where their steaks and shrimp cocktails await. In the AHL, the longer the game goes, the later your bus arrives at the next arena and the colder your already-soggy french fries and pasta become.
4) St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a charity that raises money to help find cures for children with cancer. The players, fans and front office staff joined together to raise money for the foundation, the culmination of which ended in a donation of over $80,000. Of all the things the team has done off the ice, this is amongst the best. You can find more information on St. Baldrick's here.
5) Paul Branecky and I had the fortune to talk with ECHL Commissioner Emeritus Pat Kelly before the game on Sunday. He shared some incredible stories. Kelly talked about playing pro hockey in the Quebec Hockey League for Trois Rivieres. His coach was Jean Jacques Toupin and all but five players spoke French. Toupin would meet with the team for 10 minutes talking strategy in French. Then, he’d turn to his English-speaking players and simply say, “Big game. Big game. Go Hard!” and then leave the room.
6) Nic Blanchard vs. Dan Maggio on Saturday night was the fight of the year. If you missed it, Blanchard won on the scorecard.
7) Condolences to the family of World War 2 veteran William “Wild Bill” Guarnere. A member of Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, he was immortalized in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. Wild Bill lost a leg in the Battle of the Bulge and was awarded the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. A man amongst men. RIP.
8) If the Checkers make the playoffs, and judging by the way they are surging right now, it’s a good possibility, it would have been nice to have forward Elias Lindholm from Carolina as a potential centerman. The Canes could’ve sent him down to Charlotte, on paper, before the AHL trade deadline. That would have allowed him to play for Charlotte in the postseason. It didn’t happen.
9) It seems like this March Madness basketball tournament comes around every single year. Enough already.
10) Sean Dolan is playing the best hockey of his career right now centering Zach Boychuk and Aaron Palushaj. After missing 21 games due to injury, Dolan has become a huge part of the team’s resurgence.
11) The Geico Challenge Cup will be presented to the Checkers regardless of the outcome of Wednesday’s game. I wonder if captain Brett Sutter will make a postgame speech after receiving it. You can listen in on TuneIn Radio and AHLLIVE.com.