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Weekly Report: April 7, 2014

Charlotte Checkers Weekly Report
The Checkers came up empty in a three-in-three for the first time in their history this past weekend, causing them to lose their playoff position for the time being.

After dropping a 5-2 decision in San Antonio on Friday, the Checkers fell out of the eighth spot they had earned during a previous four-game win streak. After a 1-0 loss in Oklahoma City on Saturday, they were in 10th place but still controlled their own destiny with games remaining against key opponents. A heartbreaking 5-4 loss against the Barons on Sunday now has them needing assistance from around the league to make up a gap that seems small at one point but is made more daunting based on every other team in the race having played fewer games.

The tough road trip now complete, the Checkers get set for their last two games at Time Warner Cable Arena on Thursday and Sunday against a defending Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins club that is in contention to finish with the league’s best overall record.

Week in Review

Team Statistics

  • Overall record
    36-33-3
  • Home record
    18-17-1
  • Road record
    18-16-2
  • Last week's record
    2-1-0
  • Last 10 games
    5-5-0
  • Division Standings
    4th
  • Conference Standings
    10th
  • League Standings
    18th

San Antonio 5, Checkers 2

The Checkers’ four-game win streak came to an end as they began a three-in-three weekend with a 5-2 loss in San Antonio on Friday. Facing a 4-0 deficit late in the second period, the Checkers got a goal from Nicolas Blanchard with four seconds remaining before Zach Boychuk took sole possession of the AHL goals lead with his 33rd of the season on a third-period power play, but a fifth goal by the Rampage ended their comeback hopes. John Muse made 29 saves as his personal five-game win streak came to a close. Full recap

OKC 1, Checkers 0

Oklahoma City’s Richard Bachman made 31 saves, many of which came during a furious late attack by the Checkers, to help his team earn a crucial 1-0 victory on Saturday. Though the teams were level on points, the win allowed the Barons to pass Charlotte, which ended the day ranked 10th in the Western Conference standings, via the games played tiebreaker. John Muse narrowly lost the goaltending duel with Bachman despite a 34-save effort in his second start in as many nights. Full recap

OKC 5, Checkers 4

After falling behind 4-1 in the second period, the Checkers scored the next three goals to tie the game before surrendering the winning goal with 35 seconds to play in an eventual 6-4 loss to the Oklahoma City Barons on Sunday. Playing his fourth game in four nights, Zach Boychuk scored twice to set a new club record with 35 goals on the season, with Mark Flood and Justin Shugg also finding the back of the net. The Barons went 3-for-7 on the power play and out-shot the Checkers 42-24, including a 27-5 advantage in the second period, to ensure the Checkers would go pointless in a three-in-three weekend for the first time in team history. Full recap

Notables

Zach Boychuk and John Muse win AHL awards Zach Boychuk wins AHL Player of the Month John Muse wins AHL Player of the Week

Last Week's News

  • The Checkers' stellar stretch resulted in a pair of individual awards, with Zach Boychuk winning AHL Player of the Month and John Muse taking home AHL Player of the Week. Boychuk | Muse

Boychuk's Historic Goals

Checkers forward Zach Boychuk followed his AHL Player of the Month performance in March (22 points in 16 games) with three goals in his first three games of April. He now has 35 on the season, a total that marks the most of any AHL player and the most by any player in team history, having broken Chris Terry's record of 34 set in 2010-11.

Boychuk, who scored his 100th goal as a Checker with the first of two in Oklahoma City on April 6, now has 12 more goals than his previous career high of 23 set last season. Along with Terry (67 points), he is also one of two players to break his own club record of 65 set in the 2010-11 campaign. Thanks in part to a team record and AHL-best 17 goals on the power play, he currently ranks second in the AHL with 70 points, 11 behind league leader Travis Morin of Texas.

The AHL has not had a 40-goal scorer since Oklahoma City's Colin McDonald (42) and Hamilton's Nigel Dawes (41) both accomplished the feat in 2010-11.

Busy Weeks

Checkers forwards Zach Boychuk and Chris Terry completed the rare feat of playing four games in four nights, having played in Carolina's win over Dallas on Thursday and the entirety of the Checkers' three-in-three starting Friday. The first three took place in three different cities (Raleigh, San Antonio and Oklahoma City), with the Checkers staying in OKC to complete the set on Sunday.

Including his first two in the NHL, Terry finished the stretch with three assists, all on the power play. After going scoreless in Carolina, Boychuk, the reigning AHL Player of the Month, scored three goals for Charlotte to extend his AHL lead and set a new club record for most in a single season (35).

Also this weekend, goalie John Muse, the reigning AHL Player of the Week, marked the fifth instance of a Checkers goalie starting three games in three nights. He is now responsible for two of those, having also done so from Feb. 17-19, 2012.

Other Checkers goalies to start three games in three nights in the team's four AHL seasons are Justin Pogge (2010-11), Mike Murphy and Justin Peters (both in 2011-12). In the third game of a three-in-three, Checkers goalies are a combined 1-4-0 with a 4.21 goals-against average and .869 save percentage.

Playoff Picture

Western Conference Standings

  Team GP PTS ROW
6. Milwaukee 70 81 29
7. OKC 71 77 31
8. Rochester 70 76 31
9. Rockford 70 75 29
10. Charlotte 72 75 32
11. Utica 70 71 25
A 1-0 loss to Oklahoma City coupled with a win by Rochester on April 5 caused the Checkers to fall from eighth to 10th in the Western Conference playoff race. Another loss in OKC on April 6, the Checkers' third defeat in as many days, now has them one point out, though eighth-place Rochester has played two fewer games.

In addition to maximizing points earned in their last four games, the Checkers will now need some assistance from around the league to make the postseason as they welcome the defending Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins for their final two home games before heading out to face Milwaukee and Rockford on the road. Prior to the Checkers' next game on Thursday, the scoreboard watching begins Tuesday when Rockford visits Milwaukee. Rochester and Oklahoma City are off until Friday.

After the initial tiebreaker that goes to the team with fewest games played, the Checkers have the next tiebreaker over every other team in the race by way of their 32 regulation/overitime wins (ROW).

Three Games, Three Nights, No Points

The Checkers emerged pointless from a stretch of three games in three nights for the first time in team history (28 total attempts) last weekend. Prior to losing once in San Antonio and twice in Oklahoma City, the Checkers had only gone winless once in team history - an 0-2-1 stretch from Dec. 28-30, 2012, that also took place entirely on the road in Houston, Texas and San Antonio.

Their five three-in-three stretches of the season now complete, the Checkers finished with a 7-7-1 record in those games, including a 3-2-0 mark in game one, a 1-3-1 record in game two and a 3-2-0 record in game three. All time, the Checkers are 46-29-9 in games that are pare of a three-in-three set, including three separate 3-0-0 sweeps that all occured during the 2012-13 season.

The Checkers' three-game losing streak ties the second-longest active streak in the league. It is their third regulation loss streak of three or more games this season and first since Feb. 4-7.

Floodgates Open

Mark Flood is enjoying the best goal-scoring season by a defenseman in Checkers history, with his 13 goals ranking fourth among AHL blueliners and breaking the old record of 10 set by Bobby Sanguinetti in 2011-12. Flood's eight power-play goals are also a new team record for a defenseman, breaking Sanguinetti's mark of seven also set in 2011-12.

Flood, who played his 500th professional game earlier this season, has already topped his previous AHL career high of 11 goals set with Manitoba in 2010-11. He scored just one goal in 52 games with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the KHL last season.

Low-Scoring Shutouts

The Checkers' 1-0 loss at Oklahoma City on April 5 marked their third time shut out this season, with Richard Bachman making 31 saves. All three shutouts took place on the road, including a Jan. 31 game at Lake Erie (Calvin Pickard made 33 saves) and a March 8 game at Texas (Jack Campbell made 23 saves).

The April 5 game marked the fifth time the Checkers have lost 1-0 in their four AHL seasons, with another occuring this season on Jan. 31 and all five happening on the road. John Muse was in goal for two of those, including Saturday's game (34 saves) and an outing against Chicago on Feb. 18, 2012 (32 saves).

Power Players

Checkers Power Play by Season

2010-11 21.0% (3rd)
2011-12 19.8% (4th)
2012-13 20.2% (5th)
2013-14 22.4% (t-2nd)
Both Zach Boychuk (1st AHL with 17) and Chris Terry (t-4th with 14) have broken the franchise record for most power-play goals in a single season previously held by Jacob Micflikier (12 goals in 2010-11). Meanwhile, Mark Flood's eight power-play goals are the-third most by an AHL defenseman and are the most ever by a Checkers blueliner in a single season, breaking Bobby Sanguinetti's record of seven from 2011-12.

The 31 total goals by Boychuk and Terry are the most of any two teammates in the league, with two other sets (Texas' Chris Mueller and Colton Sceviour, Binghamton's Matt Puempel and Mike Hoffman) coming in second at 27 apiece. Boychuk and Terry are responsible for 43.7 percent of the Checkers' 71 power-play goals this season.

The Checkers currently rank tied for second in the AHL with a 22.4 percent success rate on the power play - a mark that, if sustained for the final five games of the season, would mark the highest of their four AHL campaigns. The team has never converted at a rate lower than 19.8 percent over the course an entire season.

Shooting Gallery

Oklahoma City out-shot Charlotte 27-5 in the second period of a game on April 6, with the Barons' shot total marking the most by an AHL team in a single period since Adirondack took 29 in the first period of a game at Binghamton on Feb. 25, 2012. It was also the highest total that the Checkers have allowed in their four AHL seasons, breaking the old mark of 23 set in the first period at Norfolk on Feb. 25, 2011.

Oklahoma City out-scored the Checkers 4-1 in that period, with Charlotte coming back to tie the game in the third only to lose on a goal with 35 seconds remaining in regulation. The final shot total was 42-24 in favor of the Barons.

The Checkers have now been out-shot by double digits 11 times this season, with seven of those occuring since March 2. They have been out-shot by 15 or more four times, with two of those occurring in their last three games.

Special Teams Struggles

The Checkers' three power-play goals allowed on April 6 tied their season high set on two previous occasions. They have allowed at least one power-play goal in each of their last five games, killing penalties at a 73.1 percent rate (19-for-26) during that time.

Over that same five-game stretch starting March 29, the Checkers are a combined 2-for-16 (12.5 percent) on the power play .

Quick Hits

  • Charlotte's seven regulation losses when leading after the first period (16-7-1) are the most in the AHL.
  • Brett Sutter has tied his career high of 29 assists set last season, despite playing 12 fewer games.
  • Chris Terry is four away from tying the club record for assists in a single season (43) set by Zach Boychuk in 2010-11 and tied by Terry in 2011-12. He earned his first two NHL assists in Carolina's 4-1 win over Dallas on April 3.
  • With 26 wins, John Muse is tied for third in the AHL and has set a new team record for most in a single season. He is tied with teammate Mike Murphy for most in team history (43).
  • Checkers defenseman Rasmus Rissanen ranks tied for second in the AHL in terms of minor penalties by defensemen (36). Matt Corrente is tied for third in major penalties by defensemen (12).
  • The Checkers' 10 overtime games are the fewest of any AHL team, and their six shootouts are tied with Rochester for the fewest in the league. Charlotte's .700 winning percentage in overtime (7-3) leads the league, as does its 41.9 shooting percentage in the shootout.
  • The Checkers' three shorthanded goals are the fewest in the AHL. They have never scored fewer than six in a single season.
  • Charlotte's final four games are against teams in the Midwest Division. The team is 10-9-1 against the the Midwest, including a 1-1-0 record against Grand Rapids, a 2-1-0 mark against Milwaukee and a 4-2-1 record against Rockford.

Player Streaks

  • None

Milestones

  • Brody Sutter is one shy of 50 professional points
  • Sean Dolan is one shy of 100 professional penalty minutes
  • Matt Corrente is one shy of 550 professional penalty minutes
  • Matt Marquardt is two shy of 150 professional points
  • Chris Terry is two shy of 300 professional points
  • Chris Terry is three shy of 150 Checkers assists
  • Chris Terry is three shy of 300 AHL points
  • Brett Sutter recorded his 200th AHL point on April 6
  • Zach Boychuk scored his 100th Checkers goal on April 6
  • Jared Staal played his 200th professional game on April 5
  • Chris Terry recorded his 250th Checkers point on April 4

Injuries

  • Aaron Palushaj - missed seven games starting March 25
  • Greg Nemisz - missed 16 games starting March 8
  • Brendan Woods - missed 22 games starting Feb. 22

Transactions

Incoming

  • April 4 - (LW) Zach Boychuk reassigned to Charlotte from Carolina (NHL)
  • April 4 - (LW) Chris Terry reassigned to Charlotte from Carolina (NHL)

Outgoing

  • April 4 - (D) Ryan Murphy recalled to Carolina (NHL) from Charlotte

This Week's Games

Thursday, April 10 at 7 p.m. - Checkers vs. Grand Rapids

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  • Thirsty Thursday - $1 Bud Light Drafts
  • College Night presented by Hendrick Acura - discounted tickets with valid college email address. Click here to purchase.
  • Harris Teeter VIC Card Thursday - show your VIC card to get $5 off any regular-price ticket

Sunday, April 13 at 1:30 p.m. - Checkers vs. Grand Rapids

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  • Fan Appreciation Day
  • Bobblehead giveaway presented by Dr. Larry Seitlin
  • NC Zoo Asheboro Family Day - coupon giveaway
  • Coke Family Four Packs - four tickets, four hot dogs and four Cokes for $65. Fees apply.
  • Media sponsor: 107.9 The Link

By the Numbers

Team Statistics
CATEGORY RECORD AHL RANK LAST WEEK
Power play 22.4% t-2nd 22.5% (2nd)
Penalty kill 80.6% 22nd 81.2% (19th)
Goals per game 3.06 12th 3.10 (t-9th)
Shots per game 32.0 9th 32.4 (5th)
Goals allowed per game 3.15 26th 3.12 (26th)
Shots allowed per game 32.7 27th 32.5 (26th)
Penalty minutes per game 15.1 10th 14.8 (9th)
Team Leaders
CATEGORY LEADERS
Points Zach Boychuk (70), Chris Terry (67), Aaron Palushaj (57)
Goals Zach Boychuk (35), Chris Terry (28), Aaron Palushaj (22)
Assists Chris Terry (39), Zach Boychuk, Aaron Palushaj (35), Brett Sutter (29)
Power play goals Zach Boychuk (17), Chris Terry (14), Mark Flood (8)
Shorthanded goals Nicolas Blanchard, Brett Sutter, Chris Terry (1)
Game-winning goals Aaron Palushaj (6), Chris Terry (5), Zach Boychuk (4)
Shots on goal Chris Terry (214), Zach Boychuk (192), Aaron Palushaj (170)
Penalty minutes Matt Corrente (132), Nicolas Blanchard (111), Rasmus Rissanen (87)
Plus/minus Greg Nemisz (+9), Matt Corrente (+8), Ryan Murphy (+7)
Wins John Muse (26), Mike Murphy (4)
Goals-against average John Muse (2.65), Mike Murphy (3.99)
Save percentage John Muse (.918), Mike Murphy (.881)

Checkers in the NHL

Carolina Hurricanes (34-33-11: 7th Metropolitan Division)
Player POS GP G A PTS PIM +/- NOTES
Zach Boychuk LW 10 1 3 4 0 2 Reassigned to Charlotte on April 4
Elias Lindholm C 54 8 11 19 4 -10 First 2-goal game at PIT (4/1)
Manny Malhotra C 65 6 6 12 18 0 2nd NHL with 59.0 faceoff percentage
Ryan Murphy D 47 2 10 12 10 -8  
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 10 0 2 2 0 -4 Reassigned to Charlotte on April 4
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 (34-27-8: 9th Eastern Conference)
Player POS GP G A PTS PIM +/- NOTES
Kyle Bonis F 62 24 20 44 15 +9 2nd on team in goals, t-3rd points
Austin Levi D 50 2 12 14 55 -1  
Stefan Della Rovere F 20 4 8 12 50 +3  
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 54 10 29 39 48 +1 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.