Two things, as it’s just my nature to be contrary, especially when I’m this tired (it’s been a long month). If Alex Nedeljkovic doesn’t stop any one of those three breakaways, or that Jeff Kubiak chance in front, I’m betting it’s a different game than this. And along those lines, giving up those three breakaways and that rush chance, the Checkers were not a heck of a lot better than Bridgeport tonight when it mattered.
Yeah, the Checkers were flying early. Yeah, they were opportunistic. But they capitalized on Bridgeport’s mistakes, and Nedeljkovic capitalized on Charlotte’s mistakes.
Either way, this is not the kind of team you want to engage in a game of mistakes.
“At the end of the day, you make your own breaks,” Brent Thompson said. “It means we’ve got to give a little bit more. And more shots. We’re not going to do much with 20 shots or whatever it was (23, FWIW). We were looking for an extra pass, extra stickhandle. They defend well. They’re well-coached, and they’re firing on all cylinders right now.”
A turnover led to a power play on which Charlotte scored. The Checkers put it away with goals 40 seconds apart (the first after a turnover on a long pass and a poorly executed change; Parker Wotherspoon didn’t play again for a while). Nedeljkovic made sure the Sound Tigers never got in it.
“It’s not that we didn’t work. We didn’t work smart,” Thompson said.
On to… well, Charlotte.
Guy makes three saves on breakaways, and the one we’re still buzzing about was a pad stop on the rush. “It was a great passing play from St. Denis and Vande Sompel,” Kubiak said. “I got some good wood on it. The guy made a great save.” It began with a backhand pass from Josh Ho-Sang in his own end that St. Denis skated onto; Vande Sompel joined the rush, worked a give-and-go with St. Denis, who fed it to Kubiak in front a minute and a half-ish into the second. Great stop. Kept it 1-0.
After the Checkers took the 4-0 lead, Bridgeport swapped Ho-Sang and Steve Bernier. The pairs were more often than not Helgeson-Aho and Vande Sompel-Hutton. I should have, but didn’t, ask about Hutton. He seemed to fit in well; a couple of good reads, joined the play. Wound up, like early Matt Donovan, behind the opposing net a couple of times.
Chris Bourque took a puck to the cheek, it looked like, late; he said he was OK. Thompson said Kyle Burroughs and John Stevens sat out for maintenance; they’ll see how they are tomorrow.
Bobo Carpenter was apparently in the house. The ATO presumably follows.
Wilkes-Barre and Lehigh Valley, so the magic number remains seven. But Providence’s loss at Wilkes-Barre means Bridgeport’s magic number to clinch a finish ahead of Providence drops to 10. (Still 12 vs. idle Hershey.)
Isles draft pick Noah Dobson’s Rouyn-Noranda team is playing Shawinigan in the QMJHL playoffs. There was an 86-point gap between the teams in the regular season. It’s a 2-2 series.
The Boston-Providence affiliation was extended for a routine 10 more years.
And Thursday is the 19th anniversary of the day the AHL announced that it’d be coming to Bridgeport in 2001, thanks to Roy Boe, the city and Centerplate. (I don’t get why the link in there is broken now. Will have to see if it’s track-downable elsewhere.)
It’s my first day off in a while, so expect all hell to break loose. See you Friday if it doesn’t.