The Checkers played solid hockey this past week beating Rockford 2-1 on Tuesday (Oct. 27) in a shootout. They slipped up on Thursday (Oct. 29) against Lake Erie losing 3-2, but they redeemed themselves on Saturday (Oct. 31) beating Lake Erie 6-5 in a shootout.
Three Stars for the week
Drew MacIntyre played his best game of the season on Tuesday only allowing one goal on thirty-seven shots. He also stopped every single shot he faced in both shootouts the Checkers played in. MacIntyre displayed how good he can be Tuesday as he made multiple point blank saves with his defense collapsing around him. Brody Sutter played with a lot of energy during the Checkers three games this week. Sutter tallied two points in the Checkers game on Saturday and was also a plus two for the game. He looked like the best player on the rink for most of the game for the Checkers. What more can be said about Phil Di Giuseppe’s play? He has been the best player on the Checkers in this young season, and it is showing on the stat sheet. Di Giuseppe had a point in all three games this past week and is first on the team in points with ten in ten games. He also had the crucial game tying goal on Saturday with only thirty seconds left in the game. He is starting to look like a true on ice leader for this Checkers team.
Derek Ryan continues to score goals and be a veteran leader on this team. Ryan had two goals this past week and also scored once in the shootout to clinch the game for the Checkers. He has six goals on the season and is first on the team in that category. Danny Biega is playing well on the back end for the Checkers. In the Checkers game on Saturday he looked very confident with stick handling and making decisive decisions with the puck. This lead to him getting a goal and adding an assist on Saturday. He was also a plus two for the game.
Everyone is still on Zach Boychuk goal watch. The veteran has played in all ten of the Checkers games and is still yet to put up a goal. Boychuk has played first and second line minutes the entire season but the goals are just not coming for him. He is also a minus two for the season as a whole. Don’t expect this goal drought the go on much longer from Boychuk. He is first on the team in shots on goal and on Saturday he passed his former teammate Chris Terry for all-time scoring leader in Checkers history with 255 points, so there are positives in there for Boychuk.
Injury and roster notes
Justin Shugg missed all three games again with his upper body injury. Erik Karlsson and Tyler Ganly sat out two games this week as healthy extras, while Carter Sandlak and Jake Chelios sat out one game. Brock McGinn and Brett Pesce are still on call up with the Hurricanes.
Forward line pairings as of now:
- First line: Zach Boychuk-Derek Ryan-Phil Di Giuseppe
- Second line: Drayson Bowman-T.J. Hensick-Patrick Brown
- Third line: Brendan Woods-Brody Sutter-Sergey Tolchinsky
- Fourth line: Kyle Hagel-David Wohlberg-Erik Karlsson
Defensive line pairings as of now:
- First pairing: Trevor Carrick-Jaccob Slavin
- Second pairing: Rasmus Rissanen-Keegan Lowe
- Third pairing: Jake Chelios-Danny Biega
The Checkers ended the month of October on a positive note, which is fitting because it was a positive month for the team. They finished 6-4-0 and are currently fourth in the Western Conference. The Checkers also have multiple bright spots on their roster. Phil Di Giuseppe has been the team MVP so far with his team high ten points. If Brock McGinn was not playing so well for the Hurricanes at the moment, then Di Giuseppe could easily have been called up already. If he keeps playing like he his right now, his chance to play in a Hurricanes uniform will come. The veterans for the Checkers have also been a big bright spot for the team. Recently signed in the offseason, Derek Ryan might be the brightest spot for the veterans on the team so far. Ryan has a team leading six goals and has also come up big in clutch moments. He has a game winning goal and he also has a shootout-winning goal for the team.
The thing that jumps out the most when looking at the Checkers stats at this point in the season is that four of the top seven point scorers for the team are defensemen. The defense has done a terrific job so far on the offensive end of the rink. They have taken some risks and pinched when they have had the chances and so far it has led to many goals for this Checkers team. The defense has also played well on the power play, specifically Trevor Carrick and Jaccob Slavin. They have both been asked to quarterback the offense on the power play and it has led to nine power play goals in ten games. The Checkers have had a good month and will need to continue to play well and maybe even a little better if they expect to make the playoffs this year after a two-year drought from the postseason.