Tonight’s match-up at Time Warner Cable Arena will be the first ever meeting between the Charlotte Checkers and the Texas Stars. The Checkers are currently leading the Midwest Division and sit in 2nd place in the Western Conference with 28 points (13-6-1-1). The Stars sit at the bottom of the West Division and in 12th place in the Western Conference with 17 points (8-10-0-1). Charlotte will be looking to pick up their fifth consecutive win and widen their lead in the Midwest Division.
The Checkers are entering tonight’s contest after impressive back-to-back games at home that included a weekend sweep of division rival Milwaukee Admirals. With the help of those two wins, Charlotte’s lead in the Midwest Division now sits at five points.
Offense has really been picking up for Charlotte during their four-game win streak. In the last four wins, the Checkers have been averaging 4.50 goals per game and have been converting at a 25.0% rate on the powerplay (6 for 24).
Left wing Chris Terry has been one of the hottest Checkers of late, picking up 10 points (2G, 8A) in his current seven-game scoring streak. The streak is the second longest active streak in the AHL and also ties the longest of Terry’s career. Terry’s linemates, Zac Dalpe and rookie Justin Shugg have also enjoyed some success the last few games with Dalpe grabbing four points (2G, 2A) in his last four games and Shugg scoring three points (1G, 2A) in his last two. Shugg’s last two games have included his first career AHL point, first AHL goal, and first AHL multi-point game.
Forwards Zach Boychuk and Matt Pistilli are coming off arguably their best games of the season in the Milwaukee series. Boychuk’s came on Saturday as he scored 2 goals, including the game-winner and was a force on both ends of the ice. Despite playing in only 10 of the Checkers’ 21 games this season, he is now tied for third in goal scoring with 6 goals. In Sunday’s game, it was Pistilli’s turn to shine as he netted two goals and picked up an assist. Four of Pistilli’s five goals on the season have now come in his last six games.
The team scoring lead has see-sawed back and forth between Jon Matsumoto and Jerome Samson much of the season and the two are currently tied with 20 points. Defenceman Michal Jordan had his four-game scoring streak snapped against Milwaukee on Sunday, but currently remains the Checkers’ biggest offensive threat on the blueline with five points (1G, 4A) in his last five games.
Center Cedric McNicoll and defenceman Bobby Sanguinetti remain out with injuries and will be unavailable for the game. Charlotte will however have the services of their captain Brett Sutter who was just reassigned from the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Sutter, one of the Checkers’ best defensive forwards, notched two assists in his most recent four-game NHL stint and has four points (2G, 2A) in 14 games with the Checkers this season.
Goaltending continues to be strong as starts are shared between Justin Peters (6-2-1-0) and Mike Murphy (7-5-0-0). Both goaltenders rank in the top half of the league in goals against average (Peters – 6th with 2.17; Murphy 15th with 2.43) and save percentage (Peters – 3rd with 0.932; Murphy 13th with 0.924). Peters been the hottest netminder over the last month, posting a 5-1-1-0 record with a 1.63 goals against average and a 0.949 save percentage, but if coach Jeff Daniels sticks true to his goalie rotation, we should see Murphy in net tonight.
The Texas Stars have just two wins in their last eight games, going 2-5-0-1 in that span, with both wins coming on the road in overtime over division rival Houston. Their last contest was a 4-2 loss at home to those same Houston Aeros. Texas has been faring much better on the road this season than they have at home, with five of their eight wins coming away from Cedar Park Center.
The Stars will be without their number one goaltender tonight as Richard Bachman was called up to NHL parent club Dallas on Sunday to replace the injured Kari Lehtonen. Bachman had been handling the bulk of the workload for Texas, appearing in 13 of their 19 games, with a 7-5-1 record, 3.13 goals against average, and a 0.887 save percentage. Tyler Beskorowany will likely get the call in net. The little used back-up to Bachman has posted a 1-4-0-0 record along with a 3.21 goals against average and 0.894 save percentage.
Texas will also be without their top goal scorer due to a recent call-up to Dallas. With right wing Tomas Vincour (10G, 3A in 15 games) seeing time in the NHL, the Texas Stars are led by top point scorer Travis Morin (4G, 14A for 18 points) and top assist man Raymond Sawada (5G, 10A for 15 points). Rookie Matt Fraser leads the team with 9 goals and 75 shots on net. Fraser is tied for second in the AHL with 6 powerplay goals and is eleventh overall in rookie scoring (13pts).
One of the bright spots for Texas so far this season has been their powerplay. They are currently ranked third overall in the AHL with a 26.0% conversion rate (25 for 96) and are second on the road (11 for 38, good for 28.9%). The Stars came out of the gate extremely hot with the man-advantage, clicking at 34.0% in their first ten games (17 out of 50), though they have cooled somewhat over the last nine, successful on only 8 out of their last 46 opportunities (17.4%).
Wednesday, 30-Nov-2011: Stars at Checkers, 7:00pm EST
Saturday, 03-Dec-2011: Stars at Checkers, 7:00pm EST
Friday, 09-Dec-2011: Checkers at Stars, 8:30pm EST
Saturday, 04-Feb-2012: Checkers at Stars, 8:00pm EST
|NHL Affiliate||Carolina Hurricanes||Dallas Stars|
|Record||13-6-1-1 (7-1-0-1 at home)||8-10-0-1 (5-4-0-0 on road)|
|Standing||1st in Midwest Division |
2nd in Western Conference
|5th in West Division |
12th in Western Conference
|Goals per Game||3.00||3.00|
|Goals Against per Game||2.48||3.32|
|Powerplay||Overall: 22 for 108 (20.4%) – |
6th in AHL
Home: 8 for 46 (17.4%) –
16th in AHL
|Overall: 25 for 96 (26.0%) – |
3rd in AHL
Road: 11 for 38 (28.9%) –
2nd in AHL
|Penalty Kill||Overall: 70 for 86 (81.4%) – |
18th in AHL
Home: 28 for 34 (82.4%) –
13th in AHL
|Overall: 65 for 81 (80.2%) – |
22nd in AHL
Road: 29 for 34 (85.3%) –
7th in AHL
|Penalty Minutes per Game||14.81||14.63|
|Team Leaders||Points: J. Samson, J. |
Goals: Jerome Samson (9)
Assists: Chris Terry (13)
Shots: Jerome Samson (94)
+/- : D. Bowman, J.
PIM: Justin Soryal (45)
Wins: Mike Murphy (7)
GAA: Justin Peters (2.17)
SAV%: Justin Peters (0.932)
|Points: Travis Morin (18) |
Goals: Tomas Vincour (10)
Assists: Travis Morin (14)
Shots: Matt Fraser (79)
+/- : Francis Wathier (+3)
PIM: Luke Gazdic (37)
Wins: Richard Bachman (7)
GAA: Richard Bachman (3.13)
SAV%: Tyler Beskorowany
|Current Team Streak||4 wins||1 loss|
Hurricanes / Checkers fans - come on out to TWCA to support our future Canes. If you are not able to make it to Charlotte, then both audio and video can be found on www.AHLLive.com or you can receive game updates on twitter by following @CheckersHockey.