Friday, April 1, 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Charlotte Checkers

Texas Stars
37-23-7-3, 84 pts, 0.600
#3 Pacific Division
atCharlotte Checkers
34-27-3-4, 75 pts, 0.551
#5 Central Division
April 1st at 6:00 PM
Bojangles Coliseum, Charlotte, NC

UPDATE: The Texas Stars have signed an emergency backup goaltender, Chris Jablonski. Team source indicates Maxime Lagace is sick. Expect Campbell to start tonight.

The Checkers have had a tumultuous season and are looking up now after a pretty rough patch. Their turnaround is so remarkable that not one but two of our good friends have written pieces about it. Both pieces would serve as an excellent appetizer to tonight's game.

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
First, former Stars intern and current Checkers communications man Nick Niedzielski laid out the comeback for TheAHL.com's On the Beat feature. He notes that "From January 27 to March 5, the Checkers went 2-12-3, including logging a franchise-worst 10-game winless streak along the way."

A series of trades sent ke yplayers out and brought in new blood to the franchise. Zach Boychuk and T.J. Hensick departed and Andrew Miller and Blair Jones arrived in return. John Muse was sent from the Texas Stars to his former club and has had a resurgence in net since then. Niedzielski notes, Muse "has appeared in 12 of the team’s last 13 contests, going 7-3-1 and boasting a 1.85 goals-against average."

Patrick Williams also made Charlotte the headline story in his latest AHL Notebook for NHL.com.

Despite the turnaround, the Checkers are really up against it. In fifth place in the Central, their best bet for the playoffs is the crossover to the Pacific. While it looked certain that one team would cross earlier this season, the Checkers' losing skid put that in doubt. Now, San Jose, fourth in the Pacific, and Charlotte battle out a proxy war for the postseason. Charlotte is just a hair under San Jose with .006 separating the two clubs.

Interestingly, the Stars can be a huge aid to Charlotte in this regard if they defeat San Jose next weekend in their two games against the Barracuda in Cedar Park.

As far as this weekend goes, Texas will certainly face their former netminder, John Muse. For all the above reasons, this team will be a hungry one and the battle is sure to be vicious.

Stars injury/call up report:
Faksa, Ritchie, Johns (call up)
Shore, Ully (injury)
Lagace (illness)

Website: gocheckers.com
Checkers Social Media: Social Media
Coverage: Chasing Checkers
Twitter: @checkershockey
Twitter: @nickski15 (former Texas Stars intern, now Checkers Communications)

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