The Checkers’ road trip rolls on as they head into Lehigh Valley for a key divisional matchup Wednesday night. Here's everything you need to know before puck drop.
1. FAR FROM HOME
The Checkers continue through their longest road trip of the season so far this season, playing game number three of five straight road contests.
The Checkers have fared slightly worse on the road this season, currently holding a 3-4-1 record away from home. With their recent split in Hershey, the Checkers are now 2-2-1 in their last five road games. They’ll face a Lehigh Valley side that has been good on home ice, posting a 4-1-3 record. The Phantoms are coming off two consecutive home wins and have earned a point in each of their last seven games on home ice.
2. THE PHANTOM MENACE
These two squads have faced off twice already this season, with the Checkers pulling off a split but handing three of four points to the Phantoms.
Both games were low scoring affairs, with the Checkers building a 2-1 lead in each game. The Phantoms fought back in the third both nights, however, forcing the first contest to overtime and clinching the regulation win with a pair of goals in the rematch.
Kyle Wood picked up two points for Charlotte in the first game when he notched a walk-off goal in the seventh round of the shootout, making him the only defenseman in the AHL to score a shootout goal this season.
LV 2 @ CHA 3 (SO)
LV 3 @ CHA 2
CHA @ LV
CHA @ LV
LV @ CHA
LV @ CHA
CHA @ LV
CHA @ LV
3. BETWEEN THE PIPES
Charlotte’s goaltending duo has been a bright spot as of late, with both netminders coming off some of their most impressive showings of the season.
Alex Nedeljkovic shook off a slow start and is now 2-0-1 in his last three starts, with a 1.00 GAA and a .967 save percentage over that stretch. Nedeljkovic, who has 126 total saves over his last four appearances, is also coming off a dominant 36-save shutout in his last outing.
On the flip side, Anton Forsberg burst out to a strong start but has hit some bumps as of late, posting a 0-2-1 record over his last three starts. His most recent outing, however, was a stellar 35-save performance in which he kept his team in it to the final buzzer but was saddled with the loss.
Lehigh Valley have a similar tandem in place with Alex Lyon and veteran J-F Berube. The duo has been deployed equally this season, posting near identical records, though Lyon has produced the more impressive numbers thus far.
4. SEARCHING FOR OFFENSE
The Checkers have had a tough go putting points on the board as of late. They have totaled 13 goals over their last seven games and have not scored more than three goals in a game since a seven-goal outburst on Oct. 19.
The 23rd ranked Charlotte offense will be facing a similar struggling offense in Lehigh Valley, which is tied for 27th in the league. In fact, the Phantoms have scored five total goals in their last four games, including just a single goal in each of their last three – all resulting in losses.
5. CALL IN THE REINFORCEMENTS
The Checkers have turned to free agency for offensive help twice in the last two weeks. First was Casey Bailey, who inked a PTO earlier this month. The 28-year-old, whose most recent AHL stint saw him post 41 points in 76 games for Bridgeport in 2017-18, has recorded one assist in two games with Charlotte. Then came Kerby Rychel, who signed an AHL contract this week and has joined the team in Lehigh Valley. The 25-year-old, who was taken 19th overall in the 2013 draft, is coming off a 23-goal and 43-point campaign with Stockton last season.
6. MAXIMUM PRODUCTION
Max McCormick has the hot hand heading into Wednesday’s contest, posting an assist on Colin Markison’s insurance goal in last Friday’s win and then scoring a third-period goal on Saturday to tie that game.
Add to that his two-point effort in Charlotte’s overtime loss to Springfield two weekends ago and McCormick now has four points in his last three contests. It also makes him the highest scoring Checker during the month of November.
7.KEEP AN EYE ON CAREY
Despite the team’s overall offensive struggles, Lehigh’s leading scorer Greg Carey has been on a tear as of late. The veteran forward is on a six-game point streak and now has 12 through his first 14 games this season.
8. KILLING IT
The Checkers’ penalty kill continues to dominate, moving into the top spot in the league rankings. Charlotte went five consecutive games without surrendering a power-play goal and had killed off 24 straight man advantages until Hershey finally broke through with their third period game-winning goal on Saturday.
They’ll face a Lehigh Valley squad tonight that ranks near the bottom of the league with an 11.7 percent success rate on the man advantage this season.
9. POWERING UP
After going scoreless on nine straight man advantages, the Checkers’ power play has come to life as of late. Charlotte scored a power-play goal in both Hershey games over the weekend and now have power-play goals in each of their last three contests and five of their last seven.
They’ll face the 23rd ranked Phantoms penalty kill, which is operating at 79 percent thus far and has surrendered a power-play goal in three of the last four games.
10. TUNE IN
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As always, the radio broadcast will be available via the Checkers app or this link
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