Thursday, April 10, 2014

Game 73 Preview: Grand Rapids Griffins at Charlotte Checkers

Puck Drop: Thursday, 7:00 p.m.

TV/Radio info: Video TWC Ch. 323 / Audio 730 AM Charlotte

Records: Checkers 36-33-3, Griffins 45-21-6

An Oklahoma City Barons goal with 35 seconds remaining in regulation locked up a pointless run of three games in three days for the Charlotte Checkers this past Sunday. The Checkers had rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the game and skated off the ice shell-shocked.

The three straight regulation losses dropped the Checkers from seventh place, safely in the Western Conference playoffs, to a second row seat (10th) on the outside looking in. With four games remaining, they'll, in all likelihood, need to win out and get some help from seventh-seeded Oklahoma City (two points up with a game in hand) and eighth-seeded Rochester (one point up with two games in hand).

“We had a talk after that game,” Checkers captain Brett Sutter told team writer Paul Branecky on Wednesday. “We can’t let it get us down. We took the night to sleep on it and let it sink in. We’ve been fighting for the last month or so here to give ourselves a chance and we’ve done that, so if we get back to the way we were playing 10 days ago we’ll be alright.”

Both Chris Terry and Zach Boychuk, who played with the Carolina Hurricanes last Thursday before being reassigned to Charlotte, played four games in four days. Each elected to play in Friday’s game in San Antonio despite being told by coach Jeff Daniels that they could sit it out.

Branecky has a nice story up about the decisions that led up to Boychuk and especially Terry playing in all four games.

Reinforcements on the way?

With Sault St. Marie exiting the OHL playoffs on Tuesday night, Charlotte could have a few extra bodies on hand in forward Sergey Tolchinsky, who finished his OHL season 10th in the league in scoring with 91 points (31 goals, 60 assists) at the age of 19 and, perhaps, defenseman Tyler Ganly, who finished the season a plus-34 with 3 goals and 18 assists in 67 games.

Boychuk named to AHL's Second All-Star Team

(Per AHL release)

A year after bouncing among three different NHL organizations, Zach Boychuk has had a standout 2013-14 campaign with Charlotte, leading the AHL with 35 goals and ranking second with 70 points while skating in 65 games for the Checkers. The CCM/AHL Player of the Month for March, Boychuk is also first in the league with 17 power-play goals and has contributed one goal and three assists in 10 NHL matches with Carolina. A 24-year-old native of Airdrie, Alta., Boychuk was the 14th overall pick by the Hurricanes in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Notes: In Sunday’s loss Boychuk scored his 34th and 35th goals of the season to set a new Checkers franchise record for a single season. Boychuk has a good chance to earn the Willie Marshall award as the AHL's top goal scorer. He has a three-goal lead with two of top five scorers currently in NHL … The newly signed Phil Di Giuseppe (ranked as the Hurricanes No. 9 prospect by made his professional debut on Sunday and recorded two shots on goal and two penalty minutes. Di Giuseppe skated on Charlotte's top line with Brett Sutter and Chris Terry. Whether he sees the ice on Thursday likely depends on the health of Aaron Palushaj (upper-body injury) who wore a red non-contact jersey during the team skate on Wednesday morning. … Forward Nicolas Blanchard left Sunday’s game with an injury midway through the third period and is questionable. … Wednesday was a good day for the Griffins, who had defenseman Ryan Sproul (10 goals, 21 assists, 31 points) and forward Teemu Pulkkinen (30 goals, 25 assists, 55 points) named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team.

Probable lines:

Chris Terry-Brett-Sutter-Matthew Pistilli
Philippe Cornet-Victor-Rask-Zach Boychuk
Phil Di Giuseppe-Brody Sutter-Justin Shugg
Matt Marquardt-Sean Dolan-Jared Staal

Michal Jordan-Danny Biega
Keegan Lowe-Mark Flood
Rasmus Rissanen-Matt Corrente

John Muse
Mike Murphy

Healthy scratches:

Ryan Murphy (participated in pre-game skate), Dennis Robertson


Aaron Palushaj (upper-body), Nicolas Blanchard (lower body), Greg Nemisz, Brendan Woods

A look at the playoff race: 

source: (04/09 5:00 p.m.)