The Checkers’ (14-7-2) conclude their six-game home stand with back-to-back games against the Lake Erie Monsters (10-10-2) beginning tonight at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The contest will mark the first ever regular-season meeting between the two clubs, who did face each other this preseason for two games at Extreme Ice Center. The Checkers won both of those meetings, which took place on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
The Checkers will be looking to get back on track as they saw numerous streaks broken in Saturday’s loss to Texas, which marked just their second regulation loss at home in 11 games.
Throughout the Checkers’ team-record five-game win streak that came to an end with Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Stars, the longest active streak in the AHL at the time, coach Jeff Daniels had cautioned that his team wasn’t consistently playing up to the level that he thought was possible from the Midwest Division leaders.
Things finally came to a head in the second meeting of the week against Texas, with the Checkers giving up three unanswered goals after taking a 2-1 lead early in the second period.
“It finally caught up to us,” said Daniels.
The loss also ended the Checkers’ home point streak at seven games, as they had not lost in regulation since an Oct. 21 setback to the Houston Aeros. In addition, forward Chris Terry’s team-record eight game point streak came to an end as he did not factor in on either of the team’s goals.
The Checkers won’t have a great deal of time to bounce back, as they now find themselves in the midst of their fourth three-in-three set of the season. On Saturday, the team fell to 1-4-0 in the initial game of such clusters, but is a perfect 4-0-0 in game two. Mike Murphy is likely to get the start in goal, with reigning AHL Goalie of the Month Justin Peters suffering his first regulation loss since Nov. 11 on Saturday. Center Cedric McNicoll and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti remain out with injuries.
After six consecutive losses to open the season, the Monsters have rebounded nicely to push their record back to the .500 mark. They have six wins in their last eight contests, four of which came during a five-game home stand in November. They are currently level on points with the Chicago Wolves, who hold the final playoff spot in the Western Conference but earn the tiebreak nod by having played fewer games.
Lake Erie has been off since Friday night, having arrived in Charlotte on Saturday evening just prior to the Checkers’ match-up with Texas.
The Monsters have an interesting situation in goal, with six-year veteran Cedrick Desjardins leading the AHL in goals-against average (1.62) and save percentage (.948) despite playing in just eight contests. After sitting out the season’s first 10 games with a shoulder injury, Desjardin put together a stellar eight-game run but has not played since Nov. 25. Trevor Cann has received the last three starts, with James Reid recalled from the CHL’s Allen Americans last week to serve as backup for the last two.
Cann, a second-round pick of the parent Colorado Avalanche in 2007, has appeared in 13 of the Monsters’ 21 games this season, posting a 5-8-0 record with a 3.07 goals-against average and .894 save percentage. He was won two of his last three contests, most recently making 33 saves Friday at Rockford.
The Monsters’ David van der Gulik, a six-year veteran, is the team’s scoring leader with 19 points (6g, 13a) in 17 games. However, he has done most of his recent damage at home, where he has the AHL’s second-longest active point streak (seven games). He has been held without a point in his last three road contests. Forward Hugh Jessiman, who became the last 2003 first-round draft choice to play an NHL game last season, has been the Monsters’ most dangerous player of late with goals in five of his last six games.
• The Checkers are in the midst of their fifth three-in-three set this season and second at home. The team has posted a 1-4-0 record in the first game of such clusters this season, the only game in which it has posted a losing record. The team is a perfect 4-0-0 in the second game, and has split the third game with a record of 2-2-0. The Checkers have totaled a record of 7-6-0 in games that are part of three-in-three clusters thus far this season.
• The Checkers’ 17 points earned at home rank tied with Rochester for first in the AHL. Charlotte, which recently saw a streak of points earned in seven consecutive home games snapped by Texas, is now 8-2-1 at Time Warner Cable Arena this season.
• Since returning from his second NHL recall of the season, forward Brett Sutter has goals in back-to-back games. He has scored in the first period of his first game back with the Checkers following an NHL recall both times this season, with all four of his tallies this season coming in the first period. Including his most recent four-game stint with the Carolina Hurricanes, Sutter has four points in his last five games played.
• Forward Chris Terry recorded 11 points (2g, 9a) during a team-record eight game point streak that came to an end on Saturday against Texas. Prior to its conclusion, the streak, which also marked a career high for Terry, was the second-longest active streak in the AHL and was two games shy of being the longest streak posted by any player in the league this season. Having led the Checkers in goal scoring last season with 34, Terry now leads the team in assists, having posted 14 through 20 games.
• Checkers forwards Jon Matsumoto currently holds the team scoring lead with 21 points through 23 games played, tying him for 14th in AHL scoring. The fifth-year pro has six points (3g, 3a) in his last six games, and holds a team and career high plus-8 plus/minus rating.
• Forward Jerome Samson is the AHL’s leader in shots on goal once again with 101 – five more than any other player. He has recorded five or more shots in 12 of his 22 games this season, including a season-high nine on Oct. 30. Samson is the Checkers' second-highest scorer with 20 points (9g, 11a) in 22 games and leads the team with five power-play goals. He also has the fewest penalty minutes (eight) of any Checkers player who has suited up for more than 16 games this season.
• Charlotte defenseman Mathieu Roy has factored in on all three of the Checkers’ shorthanded goals this seas (1g, 2a), including an assist on Drayson Bowman’s second-period tally against Texas on Saturday. He now finds himself in a four-way tie for the AHL lead in shorthanded points, with three of his eight points this season coming during opposition power plays.
• Nov. 29 - (C) Brett Sutter reassigned to Charlotte from Carolina (NHL)
• Nov. 28 – (G) James Reid recalled to Lake Erie from Allen (CHL)