1) Before overtime on each broadcast, we ask fans to send us their prediction on Twitter as to who they think might score an overtime goal for the Checkers. Not to brag, but right before overtime started, I predicted Aaron Palushaj. What did I win, you might be asking? I won further assurance that I am smarter than Paul Branecky, who predicted the wrong player.
2) Early speculation was that the Checkers would receive Anton Khudobin from Carolina but another rumor says that won’t be coming to fruition. No indication as to why, but how does he ever expect to get into a game again if he’s healthy? I think it’s pretty evident that the Hurricanes would like to trade Khudobin and it should happen fairly soon.
3) In spite of all the losses this season, Charlotte is four points out of a playoff spot. There is plenty of time to right the ship and close the gap. If the rough times are behind the Checkers, there should be no panic any longer. No more of the “mentally fragile” stuff we had to hear about for weeks. Teams aren’t mentally weak, individuals are weak. If players are going to go into a depression every time the other team scores, the team isn’t going to win regardless.
4) Norfolk goaltender John Gibson is as good as advertised. He might be the best rookie goalie I have seen in a long time. Last Sunday’s game wasn’t his best but there is no doubt he is the franchise netminder that the Ducks were hoping for when they drafted him. I just wonder how every team passed on him in the first round. Remember the name folks, because in four years, if NHL players are allowed to play in the Olympics, he will be in the crease for Team USA.
5) I heard an AHL coach, who shall remain nameless, was very upset with the idea of sharing his lines with the opposing coaches before the game. He also complained that he disliked when other coaches say “hello” to each other on the ice en route to their respective benches. This coach complained that the league has become “too nice.” Here is a news flash; no one cares what your lines are going to be before a game. In the NHL, you know, the best league in the world, everyone has a team’s lines hours before a game. They are on the internet within seconds. Your lines aren’t nuclear launch codes, so calm down. Mark French, the Calder Cup winning coach of the Hershey Bears once said to me, “If someone can beat us because he knows my lines before the game, good for them. But, it doesn’t mean anything.”
6) The complaint from this week’s first episode of the Red Wings/Maple Leafs HBO 24/7 was that there was no one “interesting” to highlight from Detroit. My problem wasn’t with the lack of exciting personalities. It was the lack of winning.
7) Rarely do we complain about officiating either here on during the broadcasts. The game is difficult enough to call and sometimes there are only three officials instead of the more appropriate four-man crew. Having said that, the Checkers goals that were disallowed on back-to-back games by different referees would’ve been extraordinarily difficult to stomach had it not been for the team overcoming adversity and finding ways to win in spite of the calls. This is where the idea of a “challenge flag” like football should come into play. Can you imagine a playoff-deciding goal waived off incorrectly and altering the course of an entire series? A challenge must be able to be levied by coaches during games. The ultimate decision is still up the referee, but why not allow for a second look when there is controversy?
8) The Boston Bruins Shawn Thornton is appealing his 15-game suspension, which is his right to do according to the CBA. Whatever the ultimate ruling is, I am sure people will live with it considering he isn’t a repeat offender. But, the more egregious hit was James Neal’s knee to the head of Brad Marchand. Neal clearly extends his knee to hit Marchand in the head. He got five games, which I think wasn’t close to enough.
9) Cory Stillman told me that Victor Rask is working hard to become an “every day” player. It’s difficult with the pace of pro hockey for some rookies to maintain the pace required to play to their potential every night. Rask hasn’t scored since Nov. 2 and has been moved down to the third line in the previous few games. The Checkers are winning games but can’t rely solely on their top line to score every night. Long-term success requires depth.
10) Max Kahn was supposed to provide the broadcast with “Max’s Moments” on Sunday but had to leave due to an upper-body injury.
11) Is there a better story this season in Carolina than the emergence of Justin Peters? He is the hardest-working goalie I’ve ever met. He took this summer to work on different aspects of his game and it’s paid off for him and the Hurricanes. With Carolina’s limited goaltending depth, I think it’s safe to say he gets rewarded this offseason.
12) Please have a Merry Christmas, and remember, Dec. 25 is baby Jesus’ birthday.