Before the puck drops for Game 1 on Saturday, we’re going to preview the Checkers’ first-round series against Providence piece by piece. Next up is the teams’ corps of forwards.

BY THE NUMBERS

The Checkers possessed one of the league’s most dangerous offensive attacks throughout the season, finishing with the fifth-most goals-per-game in the AHL. They scored at least three goals in 53 of their 76 games this season and thrived when they did so, with 45 of the team’s 51 wins on the season coming in those situations.

One of Charlotte’s biggest strengths up front during the season was their depth of scoring. Five different forwards recorded at least 40 points this season, while eight different forwards notched at least 15 goals.

The Bruins finished lower in the final rankings for offensive production, tying for 19th with an average of three goals per game. Over their last 13 games – as they pushed for the final playoff spot in the division – they scored two or fewer goals six times, but turned it on down the stretch by recording 23 goals over their last six contests.

Providence’s offense was less spread out, with their top three scorers standing as the only 40-point scorers on the team.

WHO TO WATCH

Charlotte may boast strong depth up front, but that’s not to say they’re without high-end scorers. Andrew Poturalski – whose status for this weekend is unknown – became the second player in franchise history to hit the 70-point mark in a single season, ranking fifth in the league despite a four-game absence to end the year that broke up a 21-points-in-17-games stretch, while Aleksi Saarela became the fourth 30-goal scorer in franchise history thanks to a red-hot finish that saw him light the lamp 14 times over his last 18 games. There’s also Julien Gauthier, whose 27 goals eclipsed his entire point total from his rookie campaign, and Martin Necas, who finished strong to pass the 50-point mark while playing most of the season as a teenager.

Providence’s biggest offensive threat has come from a midseason acquisition, as veteran Paul Carey joined the club from Belleville and recorded 33 points (22g, 11) in 30 games for the Bruins, while 27-year-old center Jordan Szwarz led the team with a career-high 23 goals. Gemel Smith – who spent all of last season in the NHL with Dallas – was held to just 47 games for Providence this year but managed to rack up 40 points (16g, 24a) along the way. Then there’s former Hurricane Lee Stempniak, who signed a deal with Boston in late February. The veteran of over 900 NHL games has stepped into the lineup for Providence and produced, logging 18 points (7g, 11a) through 20 games.

HEAD TO HEAD

The Checkers and Bruins locked together eight times during the regular season, with Charlotte registering a 4-2-2 record for the series. The series proved to be a tightly contested, low-scoring affair.

Andrew Poturalski led the way for Charlotte’s forwards with five points (3g, 2a) in eight games, Morgan Geekie added four points (1g, 3a) over the eight games while Julien Gauthier notched three points (2g, 1a).

For Providence, Carey (2g, 2a) and Trent Frederic (4g, 1a) stood out in smaller four-game sample sizes, while Szwarz (3g, 1a) and rookie Cameron Hughes (1g, 3a) stepped up across the eight-game set.

KEY FOR CHARLOTTE

“We’re going to have to create opportunities off the rush and we’re going to have to get net front and shoot the puck,” said head coach Mike Vellucci. “All those little things that are good. Providence is good defensively, they have four really good centers down the middle. They play a structured game so we’re going to have to match that and outwork them.”
Nicholas Niedzielski
Author: Nicholas NiedzielskiEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director of Communications Nicholas Niedzielski joined the Checkers in the summer of 2014. A Texas native, he previously worked for the AHL's Texas Stars.