Checkers: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)
(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Tonight’s game for the Milwaukee Admirals is an exciting one for a few reasons. The first of which being that it is a home game. The Admirals have played the second fewest home games in the AHL this season. Only the team they face tonight, the Charlotte Checkers, have played at home less – one game less.

Another reason is that this will be an Admirals team that can feature its full strength three defensive parings of Adam PardyAlex Carrier, Jimmy OlignyPetter Granberg, and Trevor MurphyJack Dougherty for the first time since 11/25/16 which was 17 games ago.

Then, there are these visitors that are coming in tonight. For the Checkers this is their second game in Milwaukee this season and the first time in town they lost 3-2 in overtime. What is exciting about their arrival, paired with a full strengthened defense for the Admirals, is that the Checkers -on paper- are doing terribly this season. It can be a quick sense of relief on a week where they will face the Chicago Wolves on the road (tomorrow) and then the Grand Rapids Griffins at home (Saturday).

The Checkers are 13-20-2-0 (28 points, 0.400 points percentage) this season. That record has them in dead last of the the Central Division and Western Conference standings. The only team in the entire AHL that has a record worse than that are the Hartford Wolf Pack who have a record of 12-20-3-1 (28 points, 0.389 points percentage).

The Checkers have averaged 2.31 goals per game while allowing 3.00 goals against per game. Their road power-play has gone 8/91 (8.8%) which is the worst in the AHL. And, being the most taxed team in the AHL with road games this season, the Checkers road record is the second worst in the league: 5-16-2-0 (12 points, 0.261 points percentage). Only the Rockford IceHogs (18 road games, 0.222 points percentage) are worse off.

A pair of AHL rookies are leading the way in scoring for the Checkers this season. Andrew Poturalski lead the team with 21 points (7 goals, 14 assists) in 35 games. He is followed by Lucas Wallmark with 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists) in 35 games.

In net the Checkers dearly miss the likes of Michael Leighton who is currently up with the Carolina Hurricanes. They have been trying to find an answer and are right now stuck with two goaltenders who have played so little they don’t register as qualified goalies in AHL statistical lists.

Daniel Altshuller has logged the most games of their current tandem. He has made 7 appearances, holds a record of 2-3-0-0, has a 3.49 goals against average, and 0.892 save percentage. His battery mate, C.J. Motte, has stopped every single shot he has faced this season… 11 shots.. from a 19:51 relief appearance in the Checkers last game played on Saturday on the road against the Wolves.

What will be important tonight is for the Admirals to not simply write-off these Checkers as poor and expect to win. The Admirals were flat in their last game and need to bounce back strong ahead of these important games against the Wolves and Griffins later this week. The Checkers will be a good way to set the tone for those match-ups. The Admirals, no matter which forwards are available, need to deliver.

Expectations for tonight’s game? How will the return of the Milwaukee Admirals full-strength defense help tonight?

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