Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 03/29/11 at 12:05 AM ET
While the Hurricanes are still clinging to an ever-so-thin chance that they’ll qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs, things are going much better down on the farm. The Checkers had a productive week, going 3-0-0-1, climbing within one point of clinching a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs. During that four game span, Zach Boychuk tallied five goals and five assists. Two of those goals were game-winners. For his efforts, he was named the Reebok/AHL player of the week.
With five games remaining, any combination of one standings point gained by Charlotte OR lost by the Worcester Sharks would result in a guaranteed playoff spot for the Checkers. As of right now, Charlotte is third in the East division of the Eastern Conference. If the playoffs started today, they’d have to play defending Calder Cup champs Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals) in the first round. They’re hoping to avoid that, but anything can happen in the playoffs and the Chekers are playing really well right now.
The Clear Day rosters were announced early this month, and the Checkers clear day list has one glaring omission: Jerome Samson.
Each AHL club must, at the beginning of March, submit their “clear day” roster, which is, in effect, their final roster. They have to name a maximum of 22 players who are eligible for the remainder of the regular season AND the playoffs. They don’t have to use all of those players, but they can only use those. No re-assignments from the parent club other than the players named to the clear day roster. In Charlotte’s case, they chose to leave Samson off the list. In 53 AHL games, he’s got 54 (26/28) points this season. Because of his call-up, he’s played 20 fewer AHL games than the rest of the Checkers, but he’s still second on the team in goals scored and fourth on the team in points. He has no goals and two assists in 16 NHL games. I know that the great John Forslund has been saying great things about him, but I’ve seen the same things that he has, and I’m just not getting it. The kid is a beast at the AHL level, but he’s just not clicking at the NHL level. Last season, all I wanted was for him to get a chance with the big team, and he finally did. Nothing significant happened. This season, he’s been on the fourth line, not doing much and in my opinion, he’s looked like he’s a half a step behind.
Matthew Pistilli made the clear day roster and Samson didn’t. I definitely wouldn’t have done it that way. Samson could be a huge producer, but instead he’ll be watching the Checkers playoff games from the stands.
The Checkers don’t play until Friday night when they visit the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Baby Penguins. Worcester is also idle until Friday, when they host the Manchester Monarchs. In the unlikely event that Charlotte loses their next three games in regulation AND Worcester wins their next four, there’s perfect end to the season. The last two games of the season are a back-to-back set against the Sharks at home. By then, it should be settled, so those games will only be to determine Charlotte’s seeding in the Eastern bracket.
The Calder Cup playoffs are pretty different from the Stanley Cup playoffs. The first round, teams play against their own division. The format isn’t always 2-2-1-1-1. The pairings aren’t re-seeded after each round. There might be second round series going while there are first-round series still in action. It’s playoff hockey, though, and it’s a blast.
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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.