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Weekly Report: March 17, 2014

The Checkers began the week with two wins to give them seven in their last eight games, though it ended on a sour note with a loss on Sunday.

That 3-2 setback against the Lake Erie Monsters, in which the visitors denied them a point by scoring the winning goal with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, keeps the Checkers in 10th place in the Western Conference with 14 games to play in the regular season. A single point earned on Sunday could have brought them into ninth, which would have been their highest position since Nov. 7, though their postseason hopes still remain in much better standing than one month earlier.

Heading into a new week that will see them conclude their eight-game season series in Norfolk on Wednesday before returning home to host San Antonio on Friday and Sunday, the Checkers trail eighth-place Rockford by four points with one game in hand.

Week in Review

Team Statistics

  • Overall record
    31-28-3
  • Home record
    15-16-1
  • Road record
    16-12-2
  • Last week's record
    2-1-0
  • Last 10 games
    7-3-0
  • Division Standings
    4th
  • Conference Standings
    10th
  • League Standings
    19th

Checkers 3, Texas 1

Goalie John Muse posted a career-high 43 saves as the Checkers won for the sixth time in their last seven games at Texas on Wednesday. Zach Boychuk, Nicolas Blanchard and Chris Terry scored goals as Charlotte ended its franchise-record, 10-game road swing with a record of 6-3-1 and ended a three-game winless streak against their West Division rival. Charlotte’s victory ended Texas’ seven-game point streak (6-0-1). Full recap

Checkers 5, Lake Erie 2

In their first home game in nearly one full month, the Checkers allowed Lake Erie to erase a 2-0 deficit before pulling away with three third-period goals in a 5-2 victory at Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday. Five different Checkers – Sean Dolan, Chris Terry, Danny Biega, Brett Sutter and Aaron Palushaj – scored goals, while John Muse made 35 saves to extend his personal winning streak to five games. The win was Charlotte’s seventh in their last eight games, tying the most successful eight-game segment in franchise history. Full recap

Lake Erie 3, Checkers 2

Soon after Rasmus Rissanen tied the game at 2-2 with five minutes remaining in the third period, Lake Erie’s Brett Clark scored the winning goal to end Charlotte’s winning streak at three games. Mike Murphy had a stellar 40-save outing for the Checkers, who were out-shot 43-23 and suffered just the fourth regulation loss in their last 14 games (9-4-1). Chris Terry scored the Checkers’ other goal on a shorthanded breakaway in the second period as his team missed an opportunity to climb from 10th to ninth in the Western Conference playoff race. Full recap

Notables

Hanson Brothers at Old-Time Hockey weekend

Last Week's News

  • The Hanson Brothers returned for the second annual Old-Time Hockey Weekend that began with Saturday's game against Lake Erie. Photos

Successful Segment

The Checkers won seven of eight games between March 1-15, marking the fourth time they have done so in franchise history. Previous 7-1-0 segments include one earlier this season (Jan. 3-24), one from last season (Jan. 4-20) and one from the team's inaugural campaign in 2010-11 (Nov. 11-28). The Checkers have never won eight times in any nine-game segment, with a loss on March 16 preventing them from doing so this month.

PK Heats Up

The Checkers have killed 18 consecutive penalties in their last three games since March 12 while chipping in their third shorthanded goal of the season on March 16. Their current stretch includes an 8-for-8 performance on March 15 that tied the most opportunities they have ever given up without allowing a power play goal in a single game.

Prior to the current streak, the Checkers killed 13 consecutive penalties over a four-game stretch from Feb. 26-March 4 but then allowed five goals in their next 10 opportunities during a three-in-three weekend from March 7-9.

Tough Luck

Despite making 40 saves, one shy of his season high, Mike Murphy lost for the sixth time in his last seven decisions by way of a 3-2 defeat against Lake Erie on March 16. Murphy has received three total goals of support in his last three starts, all losses, while partner John Muse has received three or more goals of support in each of his last five starts, all wins.

Playoff Picture

Western Conference Standings

  Team GP PTS
6. Milwaukee 61 70
7. Rochester 62 70
8. Rockford 63 69
9. OKC 63 66
10. Charlotte 62 65
11. Utica 61 61
12. Iowa 60 60
With 14 games to play, the 10th-place Checkers currently have one game in hand on eighth-place Rockford, who they trail by four points, and ninth-place Oklahoma City, who they trail by one point.

Of the Checkers' remaining games, five will be be played against the two teams immediately ahead of them (one against Rockford and four against Oklahoma City). Five will be played against teams below them in the Western Conference standings (two against 12-seed Iowa and three against 13-seed San Antonio).

All He Does is Win

Including a career-high, 43-save effort against Texas on March 12, Checkers goalie John Muse has won each of his last five starts, including four since returning from injury on March 7. It is his third streak of five or more wins this season, including a six-game streak from Nov. 30-Dec. 19 that tied a franchise record set twice by teammate Mike Murphy in the 2010-11 season and another five-game streak from Jan. 11-24.

Now 21-11-0 on the season, Muse has won 18 of his last 24 decisions dating back to Nov. 23 and is one shy of tying the team record for most wins in a single season set by Justin Peters last season and by Justin Pogge in 2010-11.

A winner of two NCAA National Championships with Boston College and an ECHL Kelly Cup with the Florida Everblades, Muse has an all-time AHL record of 39-21-3. He ranks second in the Checkers' AHL history with 38 wins, two more than Peters and five fewer than Murphy.

The Big Three

Along with Texas (four), the Checkers are one of two teams to feature three or more players among the AHL's top 20 scorers. Zach Boychuk and Chris Terry lead the Checkers and are tied for seventh in the AHL with 56 points, while Aaron Palushaj ranks 11th in the league with 55.

All three players have held sole possesion of the Checkers' scoring lead at one point this season and are on pace for their best scoring seasons at the AHL level. At their current pace, all three players would break Boychuk's team record of 65 points set in 2010-11, with Boychuk and Terry on pace for 70 and Palushaj on pace for 67.

Sutter Moving Up

Checkers All-Time Points Leaders

Chris Terry 239
Zach Boychuk 208
Brett Sutter 134
Zac Dalpe 131
Jerome Samson 109
While scoring 22 points (9g, 13a) in his last 23 games dating back to Jan. 23, Checkers captain Brett Sutter passed Zac Dalpe for the third-most points in the Checkers' AHL history (134 in 241 games). Only Chris Terry (239) and Zach Boychuk (208) have more.

Sutter, who recently played his 500th professional game on March 2, has averaged 0.71 points per game in his last two seasons with the Checkers compared to 0.33 points per game in his first five AHL campaigns with Quad City, Abbotsford and Charlotte. Despite missing 14 games while on NHL duty with Carolina this season, he ranks fourth on the Checkers in scoring with 36 points (11g, 25a) in 48 games.

Dolan Steps Up

Since moving onto a line with Zach Boychuk and Aaron Palushaj, Checkers center Sean Dolan has eight points (4g, 4a) in his last eight games. That stretch has allowed him to set new career highs in assists (nine) and points (14) while tying his career high in goals (five). Prior to this season, Dolan had 16 points in 92 career AHL games.

Dolan, a 26-year-old who has signed three consecutive AHL contracts with Charlotte since intially joining the team on a pro tryout in January of 2012, has 10 points in 15 games, including two game-winning goals, since missing 21 games due to injury.

Boychuk's Goals

Boychuk Career Goals / Game

2009-10 .29
2010-11 .37
2011-12 .33
2012-13 .47
2013-14 .51
Zach Boychuk's 28 goals this season top his previous career high of 23 and are the fourth-most in the AHL. He is on pace for 35 goals this season, which would break Chris Terry's club record of 34 set in the 2010-11 campaign.

Boychuk already has the third-best goal scoring season by a Checkers player, with Terry and Jacob Mikflikier (29) the only players to ever score more than his 28, both of whom did so during the 2010-11 campaign. Terry and Boychuk rank first and second on the Checkers' all-time goals list with 98 and 94, respectively.

Boychuk is tied for second in the AHL with 14 power-play goals, breaking the old franchise record of 12 set by Mikflikier in 2010-11. He has three hat tricks this season, all since Jan. 24, making him responsible for four of six hat tricks ever recorded by a Checkers skater (Mikflikier, Brett Sutter).

Power Players

Checkers Power Play by Season

2010-11 21.0% (3rd)
2011-12 19.8% (4th)
2012-13 20.2% (5th)
2013-14 21.7% (t-3rd)
In Zach Boychuk (t-2nd with 14) and Chris Terry (t-8th with 11), the Checkers have two of the AHL's top nine in terms of power-play goals this season. Boychuk has already broken the single-season franchise record of 12 previously set by Jacob Micflikier in the 2010-11 campaign. Meanwhile, Mark Flood's seven power-play goals are tied for third among AHL defensemen and for the most by a Checkers blueliner in a single season (Bobby Sanguinetti in 2011-12).

The Checkers are currently tied for third in the AHL with a 21.7 percent success rate on the power play.

Quick Hits

  • Chris Terry's three-game goal streak (three goals total) and four-game home goal streak (five goals) are both the longest active steaks in the AHL.
  • The Checkers finished its four-game season series with Lake Erie 25-for-25 on the penalty kill, including a pair of 8-for-8 performances. It marked the fourth time in the last three seasons that the Checkers have finished a season series with a perfect penalty-killing record.
  • Aaron Palushaj's 20th goal of the season on March 9 was also his sixth-game winner, putting him into a five-way tie for the AHL lead.
  • The Checkers have earned points in 10 of their last 14 games (9-4-1), including wins in seven of their last nine.
  • Mark Flood ranks second among AHL defensemen with 12 goals. That sets a career high and is the most ever by a Charlotte defenseman in a single season.
  • The Checkers' eight overtime games (5-3) and four shootouts (2-2) are the fewest in the league.
  • By scoring their third shorthanded goal of the season on March 16, the Checkers broke a tie with Adirondack for the fewest in the AHL. They have never scored fewer than six in a single season.
  • Matt Corrente's 113 penalty minutes are the most by a Checkers defenseman since Zack Fitzgerald's 229 in the 2010-11 season.

Player Streaks

  • John Muse has won each of his last five starts since Feb. 18
  • Brett Sutter has points in each of his last four games (March 9-16: 3g, 3a)
  • Chris Terry has points in each of his last four games (March 9-16: 3g, 2a) and goals in each of his last three (March 12-16: 3g, 1a)
  • Matt Marquardt has assists and points in each of his last two games (March 15-16: 0g, 2a)

Milestones

  • Aaron Palushaj is one shy of 200 AHL penalty minutes
  • Justin Shugg is two shy of 100 professional points
  • Brett Sutter recorded his 200th professional point on March 16
  • Zach Boychuk recorded his 150th professional assist on March 15
  • Aaron Palushaj played his 250th AHL game on March 12

Injuries

  • Greg Nemisz - missed six games starting March 8
  • Brendan Woods - missed 12 games starting Feb. 22

Transactions

Incoming

  • March 11 - (D) Michal Jordan reassigned to Charlotte from Carolina (NHL)

Outgoing

  • None

This Week's Games

Wednesday, March 19 at 7:15 p.m. - Checkers at Norfolk

Friday, March 21 at 7 p.m. - Checkers vs. San Antonio

Hendrick AcuraKeep Meck Beautiful107.9 The Link
  • College Night presented by Hendrick Acura - discounted tickets with valid college email address. Click here to purchase.
  • Teacher Appreciation Night
  • Mecklenburg County Go Green Night
  • Media sponsor: 107.9 The Link

Sunday, March 23 at 1:30 p.m. - Checkers vs. San Antonio

Lowe'sNorth Carolina Zoo AsheboroCoke Zero
  • Pooch Party presented by Lowe's
  • NC Zoo Asheboro Family Day - coupon giveaway
  • Coke Family Four Packs - four tickets, four hot dogs and four Cokes for $65. Fees apply.

By the Numbers

Team Statistics
CATEGORY RECORD AHL RANK LAST WEEK
Power play 21.7% t-3rd 22.0% (2nd)
Penalty kill 80.8% 20th 79.4% (26th)
Goals per game 3.03 10th 3.02 (11th)
Shots per game 32.1 8th 32.4 (6th)
Goals allowed per game 3.16 27th 3.22 (27th)
Shots allowed per game 32.8 27th 32.4 (26th)
Penalty minutes per game 14.1 8th 14.0 (8th)
Team Leaders
CATEGORY LEADERS
Points Zach Boychuk, Chris Terry (56), Aaron Palushaj (55), Brett Sutter (36)
Goals Zach Boychuk (28), Chris Terry (23), Aaron Palushaj (21)
Assists Aaron Palushaj (34), Chris Terry (33), Zach Boychuk (28)
Power play goals Zach Boychuk (14), Chris Terry (11), Mark Flood (7)
Shorthanded goals Nicolas Blanchard, Brett Sutter, Chris Terry (1)
Game-winning goals Aaron Palushaj (6), four tied at (3)
Shots on goal Chris Terry (182), Aaron Palushaj (166), Zach Boychuk (158)
Penalty minutes Matt Corrente (113), Nicolas Blanchard (88), Rasmus Rissanen (77)
Plus/minus Greg Nemisz (+9), Matt Corrente (+6), Brody Sutter (+5)
Wins John Muse (21), Mike Murphy (4)
Goals-against average John Muse (2.72), Mike Murphy (3.83)
Save percentage John Muse (.916), Mike Murphy (.887)

Checkers in the NHL

Carolina Hurricanes (29-30-9: 7th 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 45 6 10 16 4 -13  
Manny Malhotra C 55 6 6 12 18 -2 t-2nd NHL with 59.2 faceoff percentage
Ryan Murphy D 45 2 10 12 10 -6  
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 Has not dressed since 1/31

Checkers in the ECHL

Florida Everblades (30-23-7: 9th Eastern Conference)
Player POS GP G A PTS PIM +/- NOTES
Kyle Bonis F 53 21 15 36 13 +10 Leads team in goals
Austin Levi D 43 2 11 13 40 +2 Recalled to Charlotte on March 6
Stefan Della Rovere F 11 4 3 7 38 +1  
Sean Dolan C 3 2 2 4 2 0 Recalled to Charlotte on Feb. 6
Beau Schmitz D 12 1 4 5 4 +1 Injured Feb. 28, out 4-6 weeks
Kellan Tochkin F 46 8 26 34 44 +2 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.