1) No word on if John Muse will be ready for Friday. He is a tough kid but had to leave the game last night due to injury. I’m just guessing he will be fine but up until the point he got injured, he was playing his best hockey in weeks. Very confident, big and square the entire game. There were almost no rebounds for Norfolk to pounce on.
2) Who predicted Brett Sutter would score the game-winning goal in overtime this past Sunday? If you guessed Jason Shaya, you’d be correct. My color commentator, Paul Branecky, got it wrong once again.
3) Much credit to the Checkers' fourth line for bringing energy the previous two games. The hard work of Jared Staal particularly stood out in my mind. He was playing some of the best hockey of his career before he was injured and it’s great to have him back on the active roster. After he fell down during his first shift, he was ready to go.
4) By the time you read this it will probably be old news, but the US is playing the Czechs in the quarterfinals while the Canadians get to play Latvia. It always seems like Canada gets the easy way into the semis or the finals. I am surprised they didn’t have to play Estonia or maybe Mexico this Olympics.
5) After getting beaten badly on Saturday night in PNC Arena against Abbotsford, the Checkers were down the next day 4-1 after the first period. Somehow, they summoned the strength to give some push back and fight to an overtime victory. As we read that night in the postgame comments, Justin Shugg and Chris Terry were particularly vocal during the first intermission. In my opinion though, the best leadership is displayed through action. I always felt Steve Yzerman was the best captain in hockey because he did his talking on the ice every single night. Shugg and Terry’s comment were bolstered by their goals.
6) Zach Boychuk will surpass his career high in goals this year after tying his previous high of 23 last night. No one doubts that this is the best we’ve ever seen Zach play in Charlotte. I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time before another shot in Carolina.
7) The NHL roster freeze is over on Thursday and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Canes send Justin Peters down on conditioning. If he comes to the Checkers, he will play every single game while here.
8) Happy 29th birthday to Checkers owner Michael Kahn. I know Michael well enough to know that he will not be happy that I pointed out his birthday in this column. For his birthday, I believe the belated gift of a playoff spot would do just fine.
9) If last year’s mark of 89 points to enter the postseason holds up again, the Checkers will need to go some combination to give them 39 more points in the 26 games remaining. Perhaps 18-5-3 would be suitable.
10) The Checkers will spend 18 of the next 21 days on the road, which magnifies the importance of points at home. The road trip, particularly the one to Norfolk, then Hershey and back to Nofolk before jumping on a plane and heading right to San Antonio and Austin will be grueling. Although, Brett Sutter told me in an interview that sometimes road games have the benefit of centering a players’ focus on nothing but hockey and perhaps makes playing a little easier. Nevertheless, this long 10 game road stand will more than likely determine if the team will make the playoffs.
11) The winning goal in Raleigh on Sunday was more a moment of relief than it was a celebration of a victory. But, as the season winds down, it doesn’t matter how the wins come so long as they keep coming. See you Friday night in Austin, Texas.
12) God Bless team USA and their goaltender, Jonathan Quick.