During the season, Checkers broadcaster Jason Shaya checks in each week with his 10 Thoughts - a series of observations about the team and the hockey world in general.
1. Unnecessary mistakes in the third period cost Charlotte the game on Saturday night. Despite giving up a franchise record 24 shots on goal in the second, the team still held a lead going into the third period. The team let that one slip away and the Phantoms went home with three of four points. Also, last year Charlotte went 49-0 after a lead through 40 minutes – a record I assume will never be broken.
2. The good news is that Alex Nedeljkovic was easily the best player for Charlotte on Saturday (as I predicted here last week). He made spectacular saves all night long and kept his team in the game. Not only was it his best game of the season, it was one of the best games he's played in a very long time during the regular season, which should say something considering he's the AHL’s reigning goalie of the year. Along with Anton Forsberg on Friday, who’s won all four of his starts, the Checkers’ one-two punch in goal will continue to be formidable.
3. Jamie McGinn, who wore an "A" on his sweater Saturday, was called for a major penalty and game misconduct after an interference call away from the puck. McGinn had no intention of hurting the Phantoms defenseman and the collision was much more an accident than anything else. After only a game and change with Charlotte, you can tell he brings an element the Checkers need. He will return to action on Friday night in Cleveland.
4. Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella wondered out loud this week about whether the NHL should extend the three on three overtime while removing the shootout entirely. Apparently, the NHL balked at the idea. However, there's no doubt that the three-on-three addition to the game is one of the most exciting changes made to hockey maybe ever.
5. And because I'm in a mood to suggest changes in the game, here's another one: there should be stricter enforcement of a delay of game penalty when goalies unnecessarily freeze the puck in order to get a stoppage in play. If the puck ends up, in particular, at the side of the goal without a shot being directed on net, the goalie shouldn't be able to lunge over and cover it for a whistle. This is plain and simply delaying the game.
6. It's hard to believe but former Charlotte Checkers great Zac Dalpe is turning 30 years old this week. Zac's rookie year was our first in the AHL and he was without question a fan favorite and one of the best players to put on the sweater. It's amazing to think Zac is now married and the father of two beautiful boys. Dalpe and the Cleveland Monsters will host the Checkers on Friday and Sunday this weekend. It's no surprise he's once again leading the team in scoring.
7. Senior Vice President of Hockey Derek Wilkinson informed me that it is a "very strong probability" Stelio Mattheos returns to the lineup this weekend against Cleveland. What an epic return it will be. I'm guessing he picks up right where he left off in the playoffs.
8. After Nic Roy was sent down about halfway through the year from Raleigh to Charlotte, he lost a little jump in his step. There's no doubt it was a setback for him personally. But as the season ramped up for Charlotte and especially when the playoffs began, Nic played the best hockey of his life. Quite simply, he resuscitated his career. He was probably winning face-offs at well over 60% and as each series wore on, opposition defenseman couldn't handle his size and strength. His 15 points in 19 playoff games were crucial and perhaps only surpassed by Nic's domination in the defense of zone and on the penalty kill. Bottom line, the team couldn't have won without him. This summer, the Hurricanes and Golden Knights made a mutually beneficial trade sending Nic for Erik Haula and on Sunday, Nic scored his first NHL goal. He's a remarkable human being and he is missed here in Charlotte but everyone is happy to see him celebrate as he did on Sunday with his NHL teammates.
9. Janne Kuokkanen made some great strides in the right direction this past weekend and in particular on Saturday night. His countryman and teammate Eetu Luostarinen is still going strong offensively with points in six straight games (4g, 2a)
10. AHLTV audio issues are all fixed. Pregame show begins at 6:45pm on Friday night in Cleveland. I dedicate my broadcast to the long time Voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers Fred McLeod, who inspired me to become a broadcaster so many years ago. I worked for Fred out of college as his producer at the NBC affiliate in Detroit. He taught me a great deal but perhaps no lesson was more important than coming to work and being excited about your job. If the cause of sorrow was measured by his worth, it would have no end.