The Checkers are heading into the last two games of the season against the Lake Erie Monsters on Thursday (Apr. 14) and Friday (Apr. 15). Now these two games just also happen to be the team’s most important couple games of the season because if they pull these two games out then they will find themselves qualifying for post-season play even with the slip ups from last week. With 1 loss or even 2 it is still possible for the Checkers to make the playoffs, but their fate will be dependent on the San Jose Barracuda.
The Checkers are coming off of consecutive losses to Milwaukee that could have clinched a playoff spot last week.
What went wrong against Milwaukee
Poor Special Teams Play: The Checkers failed to capitalize on any six power-play chances they had against the Admirals. Something like that can come back to bite a team like the Checkers who were playing without their captain and arguably best player in Derek Ryan. It hurt the Checkers even more that Milwaukee scored one power play goal in each game played with fewer chances on the man advantage then the Checkers.
Missing Key Players: As most people know by now they Checkers had to play without their captain Derek Ryan for both games against Milwaukee because of an injury he suffered while playing up with the Hurricanes. The Checkers were not just missing Ryan; they also missed high scoring forward Andrew Miller, talented prospect Valentin Zykov, and defensemen Danny Biega. Those are just three of the six players that missed both games due to injury.
No Third Period Scoring: Headed into the third period of both games the Checkers knew they would have to find the back of the net multiple times in order to pull out a victory. Unfortunately, they were unable to find the back of the net in either game even though they outshot Milwaukee in the third period by a combined total of 21-15. On top of that they were outscored in the third period by two goals to none by the Admirals.
What Needs to Improve
Special Teams: The Checkers will need to get the offense going on the power play if they want a good chance at winning both games against Lake Erie. This team also cannot give up a goal a game on the penalty kill like it did over the weekend. They need to shut Lake Erie out at least one game on the power play to have their best shot at winning both games.
Goaltending: John Muse has been everything the Checkers could have hoped for since coming over from Texas at the trade deadline. But Muse was in net for all three of the loses the team suffered last week, and he played maybe the worst he has played since coming to Charlotte. During the week, he let in eight goals on only fifty-five shots, and he was even pulled for the first time this season while playing for the Checkers on Saturdays game. This team needs Muse to play the way he did in the month of March if they want a serious chance of winning both games.
Previous Games vs. Lake Erie
The Checkers and the Monsters have tied the season series at three games a piece with Lake Erie winning the most recent two games in early February. This game brings an intriguing development of the unknown because the teams have not played each other since before the trade deadline, so expect a different style of game with the upcoming match up.
The Checkers released Ryan Rashid and Derek Arnold from their player tryout contracts on Monday (Apr. 11). The Hurricanes assigned Ryan Murphy to Charlotte on Monday (Apr. 11).