During the season, Checkers broadcaster Jason Shaya checks in each week with his 10 Thoughts - a series of observations about the team and the hockey world in general.
1.With the first three-in-three set of games out of the way, I am sure the team is thrilled to come out of Toronto with a split. The game on Sunday afternoon was one of the most exciting games I've seen in a long time. There were seven goals scored in the third period, with the lead changing hands twice and a huge save by Alex Nedeljkovic in the final minute to keep the Checkers up for good. Of course, Charlotte can always rely on Lucas Wallmark to find the back of the net to put the final nail in the coffin of the opposition as he did to close out Toronto on Sunday.

2. Coach Mike Vellucci has been very good at getting the most out of his guys early and, in particular, when they have a setback he finds a way to push them to be better. It's clear that his enormity of head coaching experience has been a tremendous benefit to the Checkers players already. Vellucci has probably seen every scenario you can throw at him and he is unfazed when things get tough. He is a solution-based coach and he's proving to find answers when needed.

3.Kasperi Kapanen of the Marlies is going to be a terrific NHL player. The way he controls a game reminds me a lot of Kevin Fiala, Gustav Nyquist and Mikko Rantanen. He clearly has the skillset to change a game single handedly.

4.The Checkers need to get Trevor Carrick back after he left the game on Sunday due to injury. He is an integral part of the Charlotte defense and in his absence, other guys will have to play more time than usual. Let's hope he returns this weekend against Utica. The Charlotte defense did very well playing with only 5 players for two periods. In case Carrick can't play, Tyler Ganly is more than ready if called upon.

5.How much longer until a struggling team finally ponies up and gives Colorado what they want for Matt Duchene?

6. After the Checkers had incredible energy for the weekend, including Sunday’s hard-fought third period, I really think AHL teams should take a closer look at getting rid of morning skates. A team wouldn't pregame skate on a three-in-three schedule, but the cumulative effect of skating more than necessary takes a toll on energy. Skate hard at practice and during games. Don't waste energy on game day. No one wins a game in the morning.

7. The Athletic recently posted a story about the Detroit Red Wings' salary cap situation. Specifically, it discussed the concern that 61% of their payroll is committed to players over 30 years old. In contrast, the Maple Leafs (20%) and the Oilers (27%) are significantly lower. It's pretty fair to say that the Red Wings are in a need of a massive overhaul of their cap structure. The only problem is I don't think there is a solution for the foreseeable future.

8. Former Charlotte Checkers forward Brendan Woods should be making his return to Charlotte this weekend. This time, Woods will be a member of the Utica Comets. There probably has never been a kid who wears his heart on his sleeve like Woods. He skated in 195 games for the Checkers and was always one of the fan favorites. I am certain the good University of Wisconsin boy will be fired up to face his former team.

9. Jonathan Quick was removed from a game on Monday because the NHL neutral concussion spotter deemed a play where Quick was hit in the head as a potential concussion. Quick said he felt fine and didn't want to leave the game. The criteria of "suspicious movement" which is used to justify removing a player will have to be fine-tuned, as well as the removal protocol, because it seemed very confusing as the issue played out during the game.

10. Utica, the Checkers opponent this weekend, only gives up on average two goals per game while the Checkers are scoring nearly four goals per game. The Comets have won three straight but their number one goaltender, Thatcher Demko was recently called up to Vancouver. Let's see how things play out on Saturday and Sunday. Broadcast starts on 5:45 pm Saturday afternoon and it will be the first time Utica and Charlotte have ever played one another.