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Checkers Corner: Nothing To Worry About

A pair of losses shouldn’t get the Charlotte Checkers down as they remain atop the league standings.

Scott Kinser/Charlotte Checkers

The Checkers hope this upcoming weekend will yield more positive results than last week, as Charlotte dropped a pair of games in regulation. Charlotte holds a three-point lead in the league standings as of Thursday and are still 6-3-1 in their last ten games. The Checkers are doing this all despite not having a player in the top ten in scoring. Forward Janne Kuokkanen, the team’s points leader, sits at 11th overall with 23 points in 24 games. Ever-reliable Andrew Potrualski sits second on the team and 17th in the league with 22 points in 24 games.

Weekend Recap

The Checkers kicked off their three game road trip with a 2-1 loss against the Providence Bruins. Poturalski put the Checkers on top just minutes into the first period. However, Scott Darling yielded a goal in each of the following periods that ended the Checkers three-game winning streak. Darling finished with 21 stops on 23 shots.

The Checkers followed up the performance with a weak one against the Hartford Wolf Pack. The two teams exchanged a combined five goals in the first period. Charlotte received some secondary scoring help from forward Nick Schilkey who struck in the first for his second goal of the season. The three goals would be all the Checkers would muster in the game. Despite holding a 3-2 lead at the end of the first, Charlotte would blow the lead by allowing three goals. Alex Nedeljkovic stopped just 23 of the 28 shots he faced and Charlotte lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time this season.

Darling got his shot at redemption against the Bruins and came out on the right side with a 3-2 win on Sunday. He stopped 26 of 28 shots in a game in which Charlotte peppered opposing goalie Zane Mcintyre with 47 shots including 17 in the third period. Poturalski scored the game-winning overtime goal to grab the win for Charlotte.

Player of the Week

With the Checkers suffering a pair of losses this week, there isn’t really a shining star that captured this week’s player of the week. However, it’s worth pointing out that Andrew Poturalski played well in a pair of the games and finished with three points on the weekend.

Thought of the Week

Goaltending. It can make or break a team. The Hurricanes have not been blessed with it over the past decade behind a shaky Cam Ward and an inconsistent team playing in front of him.

The Hurricanes believed they found their solution in Scott Darling until things went With Darling’s assignment to Charlotte, it signals the possible end of his time in Raleigh, barring a major comeback from his low NHL numbers.

The decision leaves a domino effect, unfortunately. Callum Booth was loaned to a separate ECHL team after Darling’s demotion. Fear not, fans. Booth is still part of the franchise, but the demotion is frankly just wrong.

I’ll share my one and only hot take this season that I normally stray away from in order to not get “cold-takes exposed”: Alex Nedeljkovic is not the Hurricanes’ goalie of the future. If there is a goalie in the organization that can save the Hurricanes from themselves in the future, it’s Callum Booth. His calm demeanor, vision and body that’s built for today’s NHL make him a more enticing future candidate than Nedeljkovic.

The move is understandable for the Checkers: give Booth more of an opportunity to play while they attempt to figure out Darling’s future. It’s just unfortunate that Booth is pushed out of a spot he has rightfully earned.

Looking Ahead

The Checkers play just a pair of games this week. Charlotte will head back to Hartford to take on the Wolf Pack on Friday and then face the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday.