1. The loss against Syracuse was partly due to mental and physical exhaustion by the Checkers. While Charlotte was playing their third game in four nights, the Crunch hadn’t played for a week. This is a recipe for loss in my mind. While the players and coaches will never blame the schedule on not playing to their potential, I don’t have to be that cordial.
2. Speaking of exhaustion, as we sit here today, the Checkers are still three games away and five days away from ending an 18-day road trip. I am sure this was done with the best of intentions, but it’s really tough for a team to be on the road that long. What’s worse that is that the team will be back at practice on Monday and then play back-to-back games at home against Belleville on Tuesday and Wednesday. It would have been great for the team to get a few days to rest and go back to somewhat a normal schedule before making them play back-to-back games almost immediately after an interminable trip.
3. With their victory last night against Dallas, the Hurricanes have now taken eight points out of a possible 10 in their last five games. Over the last four contests they are averaging over three goals scored and only allowed six goals against. This is obviously a huge step in the right direction.
4. It appears as if Lucas Wallmark still won’t be available to the Checkers for at least tomorrow’s early game against Springfield. In this short absence so far, Andrew Poturalski has stepped in nicely.
5. By season’s end, I am guessing that Red Wings general manager Ken Holland steps away from the team in favor of new leadership if the team doesn’t make the playoffs. The dream scenario is that Steve Yzerman becomes the team’s new GM, coming home to the city that his family still lives in. But, with Tampa Bay perhaps best poised to win a Stanley Cup this season and contend for years to come, Yzerman isn’t going anywhere.
6. Alex Nedeljkovic is undefeated this season in seven games. He is tied for the second-most wins in the AHL and is the only goalie amongst the top four that doesn’t have a single loss in regulation or overtime. He looks big, confident and doesn’t let anything rattle him when he’s out there. He told me in an interview this week that having Mike Vellucci as his coach this season has put his mind at ease because he knows he has a man behind the bench that trusts him. Clearly, that relationship is paying off for the Checkers.
7. How about the relief on the face of Sebastian Aho when he scored his first goal of the season last night against Dallas? I love that kind of emotion because I think it fires everyone up. Another nice thing to see was goaltender Scott Darling outplay his equally big counterpart in Ben Bishop while getting the victory.
8. Tomorrow’s broadcast starts at 10:15 am for the 10:30 am start time for the school-day game in Springfield. Long-time Checkers assistant coach Geordie Kinnear has been the Thunderbirds’ bench boss since leaving Charlotte before last season. Knowing Geordie for as long as I have, I can tell you there isn’t a more competent coach in the league. He is a student of the game and is always interested in getting better. More important than his hockey acumen is the fact that Geordie is a terrific person and father. We wish him the best, with the exception of the next two games.
9. I want to take a second and thank all the people that reached out to congratulate me regarding the Hurricanes vs. Maple Leafs television broadcast I will be doing on Dec. 19 on Fox Sports Carolinas. If I started to list all of the people I owe this to, it would take up too much space here but they certainly know who they are. My original goal was to be the next Joe Satriani but an unfortunate lack of talent got in the way of my career in music. So, that aside, getting this chance is pretty much right up there! Before now and then, there are quite a few games to do for my team here.
10. I am excited to drive my own car, sleep in my bed and work out in my gym in just a few days. If rearranging furniture in my hotel rooms is a sign of duress, then I am in need of help. Enjoy tomorrow morning's game.