After a fantastic regular season, the Charlotte Checkers have earned another chance in the Calder Cup playoffs. They have clinched the fourth spot in the Western conference of the AHL with 92 points, and will play their first game in a series against the Oklahoma City Barons on Friday. Some of the Players from the Carolina Hurricanes have returned, and the team looks better than ever.
Any successful team in the playoffs knows that they need a strong goaltender to carry them and luckily for the Checkers, they may have two. Most guessed that Justin Peters would be sent down from the Canes when their season ended to be the Checkers’ starting goalie, but rookie goalie Rob Madore is going to give him a run for his money.
Madore has come out of nowhere and won five of his last eight games. He also holds an impressive .951 save percentage and a 1.83 goals-against average. This has likely put him in a position to start as the team’s No. 1 goalie in the playoffs, and is a perfect scenario for the Checkers. Peters can lead the team in case Madore is not up for it.
After coming over when the OHL season ended, Ryan Murphy has provided the Checkers with skilled puck-moving ability on the defense, which they will need in the playoffs. Murphy played the last three games of the season and earned two power play assists. At only 20-years-old, he is one of the most skilled defensemen in the league and will be a valuable asset for the team.
With the return of Riley Nash, the team’s forward lines look quite menacing. Chris Terry led the forwards in the regular season with 60 points in only 70 games. Zach Boychuk and Zac Dalpe will also be dominant forwards, as both have over 40 points in fewer than 55 games.
Captain Brett Sutter has added some scoring to his usual defensive game, making him second on the team with 48 points. The Checkers’ forwards should have the ability to stick with any team and the defense is nothing to joke at either.