The Charlotte Checkers are like a ship on calm waters. They’ve navigated well so far and have seen smooth sailing out of the gate while it looks like the Hurricanes have shipwrecked and are looking for a rescue crew. Charlotte enjoyed another successful week, completing a sweep on the Belleville Senators (Ottawa Senators affiliate) and improving to an impressive 8-3-0 start.
Charlotte packed their bags and headed up to Belleville, Ontario for a series with the mini-Sens. In game one, Charlotte thrashed the home team 6-1. Alex Nedeljkovic turned aside 28 of 29 shots and continues to emerge as the frontrunner for the number one spot moving forward. He has yet to lose a game (6-0-0) and has a 2.35 goals against average and a .916 save percentage. Phil Di Giuseppe added a goal and an assist and Tyler Ganly recorded two assists in the Checkers’ offensive explosion.
The following day, the Checkers edged the Senators 2-1 in a tight game. Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond, in his final appearance before being sent to Colorado as part of the Matt Duchene deal, stopped 33 Charlotte shots but Valentin Zykov scored the game winner with just 4:33 to go. Di Giuseppe also scored and Jeremy Smith made 21 saves to secure his second win of the early season.
Thought of the Week
It may be an unpopular opinion but it wouldn’t hurt to give Lucas Wallmark a call and bring him up to the big club. The ‘Canes offense has flat-lined and currently shows no signs of life. The big boys have scored just one goal in five out of their 12 games so far this season. Wallmark may not be the solution but at this point, would it hurt to try? Why call up Patrick Brown to sit in the press box for games at a time instead of substituting Wallmark for one of your under-performing players...looking at you, Derek Ryan. Wallmark has put up 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists) in 11 games and that’s the tangibles you can gather from his game. The eye test can tell you he is a gifted playmaker who generates chances for his team. He needs a true chance and what better way to test that than send him up to Raleigh. Just some food for thought.
Player of the Week
Valentin Zykov is a valuable part of this Checkers club. It’s unclear whether he has a real chance in the NHL but he surely is a productive forward at the AHL level. He came through in this week’s matchups against Belleville, registering three points (2 goals, 1 assist) including a game winning goal. He’s currently second on the team in scoring, just a point behind Wallmark for the team lead in points with 12 points (7 goals, 5 assists).
Charlotte stays on the road for the foreseeable future. They’ll be in New York this week to take on the Utica Comets with whom they split a pair of games with in Charlotte. They’ll then head to Syracuse to take on the ice cold Syracuse Crunch that have stumbled out of the gate.