Despite having a roster that lost most of their top players to injury and NHL graduation, the Charlotte Checkers managed to win two out of their three games this week and maintain a record that puts them tied for first in the AHL's Western Conference. None of these wins came easy, though as the Checkers had to make do with few players who were only recently called up from the lower levels and were vastly outplayed in two of their three games this week, getting outshot 65-101.
Given that piece of information, it's pretty easy to give the first star of the week to goaltender Justin Peters, who was phenomenal in stopping 95 of the 100 shots he faced and earning a 1-0 shutout over the Grand Rapids Griffins. The only goal scored in that game was by the newest member of the Charlotte Checkers, Luke Pither. You may remember that Pither what the Hurricanes got back from the Flyers in the Brian Boucher deal last Sunday, and he was initially thought to be a throw-in and not much more. It's safe to say that he has blown away most people's expectations thus far, as he had an outstanding week scoring three goals and notching two assists. Pither was acquired to provide depth to a Checkers club that needs it in the worst way right now and he seems to be doing that just far. It's a nice start to his career in the Carolina organization, but I kind of have my doubts about him maintaining a shooting percentage of 50% for the rest of the year.
Another player sporting a 50% shooting percentage this week is defenseman Michal Jordan, who was one of two Charlotte players who will be participating in the AHL's All-Star Classic. He had three goals on the week, two of them coming in the 5-3 loss to Grand Rapids. Jordan is going to be arguably the Checkers key defenseman going forward with Sanguinetti in Raleigh and Gragnani's injury problems.
Riley Nash was another big performer for the Checkers this past week with one goal and three assists. He was Charlotte's best player in their 5-3 loss to Grand Rapids, as he recorded a team high four shots on goal and had a pair of assists, as well. He also had a two-point game in the Checkers 6-1 win over Norfolk on Sunday. Nash was one of the players initially called up for Carolina's training camp but was sent down after one day. He's getting more ice time now that a few of his former teammates are now with the big club and he's definitely making the most of it.
The Checkers are going to have much less talent for the rest of the year barring poor NHL performances from Zac Dalpe and Zach Boychuk, so they are going to have to make the most out of what they have. The fact that they got vastly outshot could be a sign of trouble to come down the road unless Peters continues to be as outstanding as he was this past week. At the same time, they got two out of three wins and are in a good position to make the playoffs with the rest of the AHL experiencing the same things that they are. Wins are wins after all and it's good to see the Checkers banking them while their roster is going through a transition period.