THE MATCHUPComing off a tough home stand, the Checkers are headed back on the road as they look to get things back on track. This particular trek features Charlotte’s first three-in-three of the season, and it has an added twist - each contest is in a different city. The Checkers will kick things off on Friday with a visit to Rochester, where the Amerks have just one regulation loss in nine contests. They’ll then head to Lehigh Valley for the middle leg, facing a Phantoms squad nearly even with them in the Atlantic Division standings and similarly on a three-game winless skid, before closing out the weekend with a matchup against the league-leading Bears. The trip isn’t over there, however, as they’ll circle back to Lehigh Valley for a Wednesday-night tilt before quickly returning home and beginning their pre-holiday break home stand.
Righting The ShipThe Checkers are aiming to bounce back from a six-game home stand in which they went 1-5-0-0 - suffering sweeps at the hands of Cleveland and Hershey and splitting their set with the Penguins - and are mired in their longest losing streak of the season at three games. After starting the season at 7-3-0-0, the Checkers have three wins in their last nine contests and have dropped to seventh place in the Atlantic Division.
The good news for the Checkers is that the Atlantic Division is ultra competitive, so only five points separate them from the third-place club. Charlotte has also only played 19 games thus far, the fewest of any team above them in the division standings by at least two games. With eight points available on this trip - six of which are against division rivals - this swing could be a big boon for the Checkers.
Stifling ShotsA strength of Charlotte’s that has emerged early on this season is a penchant for suppressing shots. The Checkers are giving up the third fewest shots per game in the AHL (26.68) and have surrendered 25 or fewer shots in nine of their 19 games thus far - including each of the last three contests.
The key for Charlotte will be clamping down on the opportunities they do surrender, as they are tied for 16th in the league in goals allowed per game. They’ll certainly face a challenge during this trip, facing two teams ranked in the top 10 in terms of goal scoring - Rochester (4th) and Hershey (10th)
Starting On TimeThe Checker have been at their best this season when they can take control of a game early. They are 5-2-0-0 when holding a lead through 20 minutes of play and 5-7-0-0 when heading into the dressing room either tied or behind.
Owning OvertimeOnly three of Charlotte’s games have been decided beyond regulation so far this season, tied for the third lowest total in the league. With a 3-0 mark in overtime contests and no shootouts thus far, the Checkers are one of two teams in the AHL without an overtime or shootout loss.
THE ONES TO WATCH
- Rasmus Asplund - 4 points in last 4 games
- Mackie Samoskevich - 4 points in last 4 games
- Lucas Carlsson - 5 points in last 6 games
- Lukas Rousek - 3 points in last 3 games
- Jiri Kulich - 6 points in last 5 games
- Mason Jobst - 4 points in last 4 games