Crease Concerns (Photo Credit: aimee.craze via Flickr)

Crease Concerns: Checkers and Senators

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The Charlotte Checkers are gearing up for the next hurdle in the Calder Cup race. They face the Binghamton Senators in this next sprint starting Thursday night. I already have a pet peeve starting with series preview. The fact Binghamton is the leading the charge in playoff goals does not make a case for them defeating Charlotte. Sure, they boast players like Ryan Potulney and Ryan Keller that are crushing goalies. However, the Senators have not faced the Checker’s defense in these extra innings.

Bingo faced Jeff Zatkoff and Martin Jones between the pipes against Manchester. Zatkoff played in 45 regular season games with a .911 save percentage and managed a.891 SV% in five games post-season. Jones was slightly better with .924 SV% in 39 regular season contests and .921 SV% in four games post.

In Portland, Binghamton faced David Leggio and Jhonas Enroth. The duo is nearly a carbon copy of each other if comparing numbers. Leggio went .911 SV% in 36 games, and .900 in 9 during the playoffs. Enroth finished .912 SV% after 41 contests, and .912 SV% after four games in extra rounds.

The Senators opposing netminders were not playoff goalie Mike Murphy. Murphy, in ten games, denied 303 shots for a .944 save percentage. Those statistics make him number one among his peers in post-season.  Those statistics will impact the Senators scoring run.

Meanwhile, the Checkers shot against goaltenders Braden Holtby and Brad Thiessen. Thiessen is second to Murphy is save percentage and holds the advantage in his goals against average during the Calder Cup race.

Murph at his best. (Photo Credit: Jeff Willhelm via Charlotte Observer)

A series outcome cannot be determined by number of previous goals accomplished against different teams. The Eastern Conference Finals outcome does not solely rest on the goalie’s shoulders.

We saw it with the Hurricanes, especially after January. You can have a goalie like Cam Ward acting as a wall before the net, but the rest of the team must play their supportive roles. I do believe the Checkers have this quality. Although Michael Murphy has stepped up to keep Charlotte in the game in many instances, there were offensive and defensive efforts contributing to his own.

Puck drops at 7:05 pm in the TWC Arena. Despite Binghamton’s shining offensive numbers, Charlotte is equally matched with big dogs Dalpe, Sutter, Boychuk, Bowman, and Matsumoto. Throw in the Checker’s defense and Charlotte takes the advantage over Bingo.

Clearly, I am confident in my forecasting as I took a wager with Ottawa Senator FanSided editor, Jared Crozier. Should his BSens lose the series, Mr. Crozier must change his Twitter picture to Jeff Skinner along with a bio change that states, “Skinny trumps Alfie.”

I would have to change my Twitter profile picture to Erik Karlsson with the bio line, “Erik Karlsson is way hotter than Jeff Skinner.” Damn, that even hurt to write. Both changes must remain for a week. You can follow our batering on Twitter at @CardiacCaneFS and @alfieisgod.

LET’S GO CHECKERS!

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Tags: AHL Binghampton Senators Brad Thiessen Braden Holtby Brett Sutter Calder Cup Charlotte Checkers Drayson Bowman Erik Karlsson Jeff Skinner Jon Matsumoto Michael Murphy Zac Dalpe Zach Boychuk

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