Saturday, April 19, 2014

Charlotte Checkers eliminated from playoff contention

Blame it on a four-point month of November. Blame it on losing Justin Peters to the NHL early in the season. Blame it on a difficult schedule down the stretch.

Which ever reason you choose, the final result is the same: The 2014 Charlotte Checkers will not be playing in this year's playoffs. A 5-1 loss to the Admirals in Milwaukee on Friday, combined with Oklahoma City earning a point in its game with Iowa, sealed Charlotte's fate with one regular season game remaining.

A 12-4-0 mark in the month of March catapulted the Checkers back into playoff contention, but a 1-4-0 showing in April was their final undoing.

Ryan Murphy scored the lone goal for the Checkers with 11 seconds left in the second period to make it 4-1 and John Muse stopped 29 of 34 shots.

Although the final result of today's game with Rockford will have no playoff implications, there's still a few good reasons to watch.

With 36 goals this season, Checkers forward Zach Boychuk is four ahead of Texas' Travis Morin for tops in the AHL. A goal would all but lock up that scoring title.

There's also the strong possibility that rookies like Sergey Tolchinsky, Phil Di Giuseppe and Dennis Robertson will all see extended time on the ice after spending time as healthy scratches as the team tried to make its way into the top eight in the Western Conference.

Notes: The Checkers were a perfect 13-for-13 on the penalty kill against Milwaukee this season, including a 2-for-2 effort in this game. … Muse has played in each of the Checkers’ last 10 games, including nine starts. …  Matt Marquardt played his 400th professional game … Palushaj and Terry led the Checkers with five shots on goal apiece. … Zach Boychuk and Victor Rask finished with plus-1 ratings. … Phil Di Giuseppe, Sergey Tolchinsky and Dennis Robertson were healthy scratches. … Philippe Cornet, Greg Nemisz and Brendan Woods missed the game with injuries.