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) There are 10 games left in the season. Six of those 10 are on the road. Six of the games are against opponents that are in the playoffs or within reach. With Charlotte visiting Laval this week, a team that won't be in the playoffs, they can't afford to stumble when it matters. This past Sunday was a wasted opportunity.
2) Considering the way his rookie season has gone, I have to believe Warren Foegele gets a look from the Hurricanes before season's end. His scoring pace has been steady all year and he's the only player amongst scoring leaders that doesn't have a power-play goal. He does it all at even strength or shorthanded. How many top goal scorers in the AHL could score at the same rate as Foegele if they weren't on the power-play? I'd say hardly any.
3) Records that have been broken this season in Charlotte: Goals by a rookie (Foegele), wins (and goals scored) by a goaltender (Alex Nedeljkovic). When the season concludes it's more than likely Wallmark will average more points per game (1.15) than any player in team history, breaking Zach Boychuk's record (1.08). Nedeljkovic has five shutouts this season and the single season record is six by Justin Peters in 2012-13. Valentin Zykov is scoring at .522 goals per game, which is within reach of Boychuk’s .525. The plus/minus records will be absolutely shattered by Roland McKeown and Phillip Samuelsson and more than likely Foegele as well. All three should top Haydn Fleury's +16 from last season. There are more, but you get the point. The year has gone very well for Mike Vellucci and his team. But, the goal is to make the playoffs and put together a run. Nothing else matters.
4) Since being reassigned by Carolina to Charlotte, it is clear to me that the Checkers would be in dire circumstances if it wasn't for Lucas Wallmark. In my estimation, he has done everything to warrant a permanent spot in the NHL next season. For the time being, it is Wallmark who propels this team offensively.
5) If the NHL doesn't find a way to get a better handle on goaltender interference and the subsequent review for coach's challenge, we are heading into a postseason that may see an entire playoff series come down to a controversial goal and perhaps even in the Stanley Cup Final. This would be a disaster. Clarity of the rules is the highest importance in sports.
6) On Monday, I'll be heading up to Raleigh to call the Hurricanes vs. Senators game on Fox Sports Carolinas. What a privilege it's been to be a part of Carolina's TV broadcast this season. I'll have more on the whole experience after this season concludes.
7) While I'm looking forward to seeing Checkers legend Chris Terry this week as we visit Laval, I can't imagine the team is looking forward to seeing him take one-timers on the power play. Though Laval won't make the postseason, the Checkers got a lesson in defeat against the lowest-ranked team in the North Division this past weekend when they lost 4-1 against Binghamton. Charlotte can't afford to take any games off with Bridgeport still closing in. The broadcast on Friday night will begin at 7:15 for the 7:30 puck drop and we'll have it all live on ESPN 730 and the Checkers app.
8) Here is an idea. If a team ices the puck, then the normal repercussion ensues: an inability to make a line change followed by a defensive-zone draw. My suggestion is that if you do it again after the faceoff, it's a two-minute penalty for delay of game. This game needs to be sped up, not slowed down.
9) Greg McKegg is the best trade deadline addition to the Checkers that I can recall. Head coach Mike Vellucci had high praise for McKegg even before he played a single game for Charlotte. McKegg has a very good reputation both on and off the ice and both his professionalism and his skill are on full display with Charlotte as he averages a point per game since putting on a Checkers sweater.
10) Lehigh Valley is one of the hottest teams in the AHL. You can thank former Checkers goaltender John Muse for that. He's 10-1-1 with a save percentage of .931 and a goals against average of 2.13. The kid knows how to win hockey games.