1. The Hurricanes’ home game against the Florida Panthers on Saturday night was the most epic of all their games this season and it concluded in an overtime game winner by Noah Hanifin, who played one of his best games as a Hurricane. If that compete level comes to the ice every night for Carolina, they'll make the postseason. Also, John Forslund's call was one of his best ever. He has the absolute best delivery of a big moment of any broadcaster in the National Hockey League.
2. Checkers goalie Alex Nedelkjovic has already bested his wins output of last season in just over half the games played. The progress he's made since last year is outstanding. He is giving his team a chance to win every single time he steps into the crease. I also believe his puck playing ability is easily the best of any goalie we've seen in the Eastern Conference. His goalie partner, Jeremy Smith, was the sole reason Charlotte came away with a point last week Sunday against Providence. It was one of the best goaltending performances by a Checkers netminder in a long time considering how many quality chances he faced and the margin of error was almost none.
3. Lucas Wallmark came back after missing nine games due to injury and the team won both games in his return. The influx of young forwards this year for Charlotte shouldn't move the spotlight away from Wallmark. He is perhaps the closest to NHL ready of any forward in the entire AHL in my opinion.
4. A review by the officials during Sunday's game was incredibly long and drawn out. I understand the point is to make sure the game is called correctly but how long does it take to review an overhead camera shot? The delay was upwards of six minutes where everything came to a total stop. We are in the entertainment business and I guarantee no one was entertained with part two of the Potsdam Conference being negotiated in the scorers box. The less than shocking part was that the call on the ice was upheld. Also, the linesman missed a very obvious offside call on Charlotte. The play was never whistled down and as it continued, Charlotte scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal. You can only imagine how bitter Springfield head coach Geordie Kinnear was after that game.
5. I wonder if in the future someone will discover that spending less time on the ice, outside of games, helps players become more competitive over the course of 76-game schedule. Two days off in a row isn't going to set anyone back. I'd also believe there are players who don't intake nearly enough proper macro nutrients necessary for sufficient recovery. If you compound that with constant practice time, the negative consequences will manifest in lesser production.
6. Congratulations to the Georgia Bulldogs for winning the SEC Championship. Checkers owner Michael Kahn is a lifelong supporter of the Bulldogs and I am sure Saturday was a great day for him and his family. I've known Michael for a long time and to see him win a National Championship would be phenomenal.
7. On Wednesday, Finland will celebrate 100 years of independence as it broke away from the Russian Republic in 1917. Before Sunday's game, Helsinki born Alexi Saarela, who was a game-time decision, told me he was batting through what ailed him in order to play and dedicate the game to his country. He ended the night with a goal, an assist (a rare event), and he was named the game's first star. Oi maamme, Suomi, synnyinmaa, soi, sana kultainen!
8. At this moment, it seems like a forgone conclusion that Detroit goaltender Petr Mrazek will end up an unrestricted free agent after this season. This was a kid who everyone thought could be the next great Czech NHL goaltender, but it seems his career never lived up to the hype. When he first became a pro, his style was a bit wild and his rebound control was horrible. He would take himself out of position after making saves and occasionally follow up with a highlight reel stop on second and third chances. But, a YouTube sensation goalie doesn't make a great NHL starter. What made Mrazek stand out was his competitive nature. Once a player like that loses the motivation to win, all that's left is a mediocre player with terrible mechanics.
9. Charlotte travels to play the Penguins on Friday and then to Binghamton on Saturday to face the Devils. I talked to a few scouts this weekend who told me the Atlantic is the toughest in the AHL. The point differential between first and fifth place is three. You can't go on extended losing streaks because you'll never climb back up from the hole.
10. Both games against WBS (Friday) and Binghamton (Saturday) have a 7:05 pm puck drop. The Pre-game show for each will begin at 6:50. Join us on the Checkers app for the ESPN 730 stream of the games.