1) After watching the Checkers get crushed on Friday, no one could anticipate less than a day later they would exact their revenge in such a palpable display of offense. I do have a theory of why Texas was unable to muster any willpower on Saturday afternoon; they simply weren’t used to playing another game about 14 hours after Friday’s game ended. The Checkers had done it before and understood both the mental and physical requirements to get through something so difficult.
2) Going back to Friday’s game, goaltender Michael Murphy was simply left without any help. He put three spectacular games together previously, but no goalie could’ve held Texas at bay on Friday night. You can’t fault him and he will be fine in his next start.
3) Not only did the Norfolk Admirals have to make the long bus ride to Charlotte after playing both Friday and Saturday against Worcester at home, their bus driver went to the wrong hotel. Once they got back into the bus, the driver went the wrong direction and got completely lost. This cost the team about an hour more of sleep. By the third period and overtime, they were simply hanging on for their lives. If it wasn’t for the tremendous goaltending of Brad Theissen, Norfolk would’ve easily lost the game by four or five goals.
4) I never liked John Tortorella before this past weekend. His unremitting recalcitrance made it difficult to see what made him likeable enough for any player to want to play for him. Then he tried to storm the Calgary locker room and everything I previously thought changed. A newfound rush of respect and admiration has emerged. Bob Hartley ended up looking like a weakling. I think it should be clear; the initial fights were the design of Hartley. Tortorella did the right thing by his decision to counter with his fourth line. Tortorella did let his emotions get the better of him and the league suspended him for what I think is an appropriate amount.
5) Charlotte Observer and Checkers beat writer @SethLakso tweeted this incredible stat today: “John Muse… has won 10 of his last 12, while the other seven goalies the Checkers have used are a combined 5-11-1.” He’s won his whole career so no one should be surprised that Muse continues to win here in Charlotte.
6) Keegan Lowe sparked the Checkers on Sunday after he fought Norfolk’s Joe Cramarossa when the Checkers went down 2-0. For those of you who don’t think there’s a place for fighting in the game, go listen to post-game comments from Charlotte players about how that got them even more engaged and spurred their comeback shootout victory. Good for Lowe, who was scratched the game previously.
7) Derek Wilkinson during Saturday’s broadcast regarding Matthew Pistilli, “There’s no reason he hasn’t earned a place on the team for the rest of the season.” That’s an indication of how well Matthew has played since his call-up.
8) Lots of controversy recently over plays in the NHL that shouldn’t have resulted in goals. Detroit’s late goal that went off the meshing above the glass and into the net against LA and the Sharks scoring a game-winning goal against Calgary when they were clearly offside. At some point, coaches need to get a challenge flag like they have in football. No one will be bothered by the game being slowed down if it prevents goals being scored when in hindsight, it was clear some infraction was committed.
9) When Texas goaltender Josh Robinson broke the steel on the blade of his right skate on Friday, the team didn’t have a replacement on-hand. Because he and I wear similar size goalie skates (mine are actually a half-size bigger), Texas asked to borrow my cowlings (plastic protection on the boot which includes the blade) from my skates. He told me before the game that he was just happy he didn’t have to play in them because they weren’t his exact size. Well, in the first period, he had to finish the game for the pulled Christopher Nilstorp. Robinson looked like he could barely move in warm-ups but he settled down just fine and made some big saves despite the very strange situation.
10) Brett Sutter hit two posts on the same shift during the game on Saturday. Although he’s been snake-bitten in the goal department, there aren’t enough words to credit everything else he does so well for this team. His leadership and hard work always make him one of the most valuable players in the league. If the team makes the playoffs, you can credit Brett with carrying a great deal of responsibility for their return to the postseason.
11) Two games, two broadcasts this week. Race Night is practically sold out on Friday, so if you can’t get into the building you can listen on ESPN 730, ESPN730.com, TuneIn Radio, AHL Live or watch the TV broadcast on Time Warner Cable Digital 520. God bless technology.