Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 05/06/11 at 11:32 PM ET
Brad Thiessen of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Mike Murphy of the Charlotte Checkers have been playing an outstanding series against each other. They are the first and second ranked goalies in every statistical category, and their numbers get better every game. Charlotte won game one 3-2. WBS won game two 3-0. After that, it’s been a goaltending clinic on both sides of the ice. Charlotte won game three 2-1 in overtime, and they won game four 1-0. Tonight, WBS turned the tables and took game five by the same 1-0 score.
It’s a real shame that few people will be experiencing this brilliant duel since, you know, it’s the American League.
Mike Murphy had his shutout streak snapped at 161 minutes 11 seconds when Chris Collins tipped a Bryan Lerg shot at 8:54 of the third. The tip, high in the slot, looked like it might have been with a high stick, but the play never even went under review.
Charlotte was listless in the first two periods. They only mustered six shots on goal in the first and three in the second. In the second, particularly after the Collins goal, they found some zip. They put 14 shots on goal and also hit three posts. They had some excellent chances and some really close calls, but Thiessen was a brick wall. He now has two shutouts in the playoffs (both in this series) with a GAA of 1.45 and a save percentage of .946. Murphy isn’t far behind him with one shutout, a GAA of 1.65 and a slightly better save percentage of .948.
Goals in this series are at a super premium, and you get the impression that they’re all going to be 1-0 games from here on out. Game six will be Saturday night in WBS. If necessary, game seven will be Monday night in WBS.
In the other Eastern matchup, the Binghamton Senators (East Division) have won the series against the Portland Pirates (Altlantic Division) and have advanced to the Eastern Conference finals. Since 2004, when the AHL changed the playoff format, Atlantic Division teams are 0-9 against East Division teams.
As I expected, the attendance for tonight’s game five was 6,848. For most of the game, they were dead silent. There’s a chance that they won’t get to see their team again until the fall. That’s only, of course, if the Pens can win the next two on their home ice. Hopefully, though, it’ll be some time early next week. Charlotte would be the “home” team against the Senators.
The longer Mike Murphy continues to play like he is, the better his chances are for making the big team roster in the fall. Justin Peters, who only played in 12 games for the Hurricanes this season, has one more season on his contract, but he has a two-way deal. Murphy will also be in the final year of his two-way contract, but his is an entry-level contract. It has signing bonus and things like that built in, so his NHL cap hit would be $783,333 versus just $525k for Peters. I think Murphy has greater NHL potential, but it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. You can’t hone any NHL skills in morning skates. You can’t hone NHL skills sitting on an NHL bench. You also can’t develop NHL goaltending skills playing in the AHL. It’s hard to tell what’s best for Mike’s development.
That said, I don’t think that Justin Peters is a viable backup to Cam Ward.
The Hurricanes will have a lot of other bigger fish to fry this summer. That’s one of the least of their concerns. Something that they can sort out in September. The other stuff, the free agents, will have to be sorted in July.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.