Saturday, February 15, 2014

Game 48 Preview: Abbotsford Heat at Charlotte Checkers

*Sunday's game at PNC Arena in Raleigh has been pushed from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. 

Good afternoon, many of the Checkers spent this morning watching the United States defeat Russia in one of the more exciting Olympic matches you'll ever see.  The U.S. eventually won the game in a shootout thanks in large part to Jonathan Quick and T.J. Oshie.

Here's a few reactions...

Charlotte will be looking to play with some of that excitement tonight when it hosts the Abbotsford Heat in Raleigh at PNC Arena at 5 p.m.

In two games in Abbotsford this season, the Heat handled the Checkers without too much trouble. However, weather conditions delayed their arrival to Raleigh until 4 a.m. last night, so Charlotte should be the more-rested team.

These two games at PNC Arena (tonight and Sunday) represent an important opportunity for the Checkers players to show the Hurricanes brass that their future is in Raleigh.

"This is where the guys want to get to," Checkers coach Jeff Daniels told the News & Observer's Chip Alexander earlier today. "This is something they're down in Charlotte working for, and they want to get up to Carolina at some point. And just a taste of playing in a big-league building. This is where they want to perform."

For Chip's full preview, which features Zach Boychuk heavily, click HERE

Puck Drop: 5:00 p.m. ET

TV/Radio info: Video AHL Live / Audio 730 AM Charlotte

Records: Checkers 22-23-2, Heat 31-15-4

Projected Checkers lineup:

Chris Terry-Brett Sutter-Zach Boychuk
Nicolas Blanchard-Brody Sutter-Aaron Palushaj
Philippe Cornet-Victor Rask-Justin Shugg
Brendan Woods-Sean Dolan-Jared Staal (not played since Jan. 3)

Michal Jordan-Danny Biega
Rasmus Rissanen-Ryan Murphy
Keegan Lowe-Matt Corrente

John Muse
Mike Murphy

Healthy scratches: Matt Marquardt, Beau Schmitz, Mark Flood (his first healthy scratch of the season).

InjuredGreg Nemisz (undisclosed injury, not expect to play in either game this weekend)

Storylines: Charlotte enters Saturday's game winless in its last four (0-3-1), it's longest skid since dropping an AHL-high seven straight in November. ... In the team's only previous experience at PNC Arena in Raleigh (Jan. 6, 2013), the Checkers defeated the Norfolk Admirals 3-1 in front of a crowd of 10,256 on the day the NHL lockout came to an end. U.S. Olympian Justin Faulk played in that game for the Checkers. ... Mark Flood (healthy scratch) and Ryan Murphy both missed Friday's practice at PNC after having travel difficulties of their own. Daniels told reporters that Flood's healthy scratch was unrelated to his tardiness. ... Zach Boychuk has seven goals in his last seven games including his second and third career hat-tricks. ... Chris Terry has gone 12 games without lighting the lamp, his longest such stretch of this season. ... Unable to fly into Raleigh, the Heat took a 14-hour bus ride from Chicago to get into town for this game. ... The Heat, who currently sit in first place in the Western Conference (66 points), have outscored the Checkers 11-4 in two meetings this season in Abbotsford.

Western Conference standings update: