Checkers: Scouting the Enemy

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It has been awhile since we’ve seen these Charlotte Checkers. The last time we saw them? Late December. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Charlotte Checkers enter tonight’s game with a record of 37-34-1-2 (77 points). They are fourth in the high powered West Division and are ninth in the Western Conference standings.

The Checkers currently trail the final playoff seed, the Oklahoma City Barons, by 2 points. Including tonight’s game they have only have two games remaining. Both of those games are on the road. The Barons have two games left as well – but have the advantage of home ice for each of those contests to finish their regular season.

Depending on how the results shape out – the Admirals could well wrap up the playoff contenders from the Western Conference tonight with a win over the Checkers and a win by the Barons over the Iowa Wild (who they will see in both games).

The Ads and Checkers have played each other three-times this season. It’s been a long time since those games – so let’s look back.

Nov. 30 @ Charlotte: L, 4-1
Dec. 1 @ Charlotte: W, 2-1
Dec. 27 vs. Charlotte: L, 3-2

It’s a small package of games but the Checkers have the advantage from them. Mind you, it has been such a long time since those three games and both teams have really changed.

If you’re wondering about fighting majors, incidents, or long memory type situations that could find themselves turning up out of the blue out of the match up: Game 1, Mike Liambas charging and then fighting with Matt Marquardt with an addition of Nicolas Blanchard taking a third-man-in penalty… Game 2, Liambas and Blanchard settled the score from the first game with a bout… Game 3, nope nope nope.

Their top scorer this season is Zach Boychuk with 72 points (36 goals, 36 assists), a plus/minus rating of -8, and 55 penalty minutes. Boychuk has a crazy insane 18 goals scored on the power-play this season. That is the most in the AHL this season. The next closest to him in PPGs is Luke Adam of the Rochester Americans with 16.

A player who has always done rather well against the Milwaukee Admirals is left winger Chris Terry. This season he has 68 points (28 goals, 40 assists), 14 goals scored from the power-play, a plus/minus rating of -11, and 60 penalty minutes.

Nine. The Charlotte Checkers have played nine goalies during the 2013-14 season. Makes you feel pretty good about how the Admirals and Predators handled injury struggles this season right?

Out of the crop of goalies the Checkers have used – John Muse has been their top man between the pipes: 45 games played, 27 wins, 2.58 goals against average, 0.920 save percentage, and 5 shutouts this season.

Also, Rick DiPietro played 5 games for them this season. … That was the punchline.

The Milwaukee Admirals have a record of 38-23-6-7 (89 points). They are third in the Midwest Division and, after their 3-0 shutout victory in Iowa on Sunday, are fifth in the Western Conference standings.

Milwaukee has two remaining regular season games: the regular season home finale tonight – and the regular season finale on the road against the Chicago Wolves tomorrow night.

The team is completely loaded with talent right now. Colton Sissons returned to the Admirals. Simon Moser returned from injury. Calle Jarnkrok returned from Nashville. And, as I’ve witnessed during practice this week, everyone is healthy and skating.

The lone exception could be Liambas, who hasn’t played since setting the Admirals record for penalty minutes in a season on 4/8/14, but he is skating on his own (no contact). Mark Van Guilder is also back after a lower-body injury that has sidelined him since 4/1/14 – and he has participated in full practice sessions. The team is simply at its strongest form at the perfect time of the season.

Another thing that has been getting sharper and sharper as the season comes to a close is the Admirals goaltending. In the month of April – Marek Mazanec and Scott Darling have combined to stop 185 of 191 shots on goal from 7 games: 0.969 save percentage. A part of me likes the idea of having a “number one” for the playoffs. I’m starting to agree with head coach Dean Evason who told me not too long ago, “if both are playing extremely well – what’s the difference?”

What shall we expect from tonight’s game against the Charlotte Checkers? Do the Admirals start rolling out their big guns to get them rolling into the playoffs or should they still look to rest guys?

2 thoughts on “Checkers: Scouting the Enemy”

  1. buhdderkupp: Won’t know the lineup until right near player intros BUT the other Staal has been playing games lately. Pretty sure he has battled injuries a few times during this season. Could be in tonight’s roster though.

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