Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 05/02/11 at 08:33 PM ET
On Saturday night, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins squashed the Charlotte Checkers 3-0 in game two of the East Division finals of the 2011 AHL Calder Cup playoffs. Charlotte won game one 3-2 on Thursday to swipe home-ice advantage from the Pens. With the series tied at one, the next three games will be at Charlotte’s Time-Warner Cable Arena. Tonight, Wednesday and Friday. The guarantee of three home games is good for the team, good for the arena, good for the city. It’s not the same impact that home games at the RBC Center would have for Raleigh and the Canes, but it’s still quite good.
I expect tonight’s crowd to be somewhere around 3,500. Wednesday’s should be somewhere around 3,000. I wouldn’t be surprised if Friday’s crowd pushes 6,000.
The shutout loss on Saturday obviously put an end to Zach Boychuk’s seven game scoring streak. It was the first time since a 2-0 loss at Worcester on March 5 that the Checkers have been blanked in a game.
Mike Murphy should remain in nets for the home team. Ever since stealing the starting job from Justin Pogge early in the Hershey series, he’s been playing extremely well. It’s easy to forget that he’s just a 21-year old kid playing in his first season as a professional. He may not be ready for the jump to the NHL, but he’s secured his place as the #1 guy at the AHL level. He’s only accountable for two of Saturday’s goals, as 200third was into an empty net. He’s got a post-season GAA of 2.17 and a save percentage of .929. His record is 4-2, and he has started the last six games in a row after returning from an injury. He was out for a few weeks at the end of the regular season after suffering a concussion in a game against the Baby Pens back in March. He returned for game three of the first round. He lost that game, but won the next three in a row to oust the defending champs. Then he extended his win streak to four games with the 3-2 win against the Penguins in game one of round two.
Murphy may be a rookie, but he’s no stranger to playoff hockey, and he’s fully accustomed to carrying the load. He was name the Goaltender of the Year in the Ontario Hockey League in two consecutive seasons (2007-08 and 2008-09). He’s the only player ever to have won that award twice. He was also named the Goaltender of the Year in the whole Canada Hockey League (Ontario Hockey League + Quebec Major Junior Hockey League + Western Hockey League) in 2009. I’m fairly certain that I don’t understand the logistics of the Memorial Cup playoff system, but Murphy’s Belleville Bulls made deep runs both of those seasons with him in nets for all but one game.
In 2008, Murphy had a post-season record of 14-3 for the Bulls with a GAA of 2.32 and a save percentage of .927. The following season, he had a postseason record of 14-7 with a GAA of 2.56 and a save percentage of .916.
This season, he’s 4-2 so far with a GAA of 2.09 and a save percentage of .931. As I write, he’s just given up a goal in the first period of game three.
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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.