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Preview: Monsters, Checkers Battle for Playoff Contention

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John Saraya/Cleveland Monsters

Charlotte Checkers at Cleveland Monsters

Tuesday, March 28th at 7pm est

Thursday, March 30th at 7pm est

Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio

Radio: 99x(99.1); 99x Online

Twitter: @CheckersHockey , #CHAvsCLE

@MonstersHockey , #CLEMonsters

Cleveland Monsters, 32-27-3-4, 71 points, 5th Central, 9th West

vs

Charlotte Checkers, 33-28-4-0, 70 points, 4th Central,8th West

Tonight's game between the Charlotte Checkers and the Cleveland Monsters will be anything but tame. The two are in a do or die battle for fourth place in the Central. These next two games will help give us a look at where these two teams will sit at the end of the regular season.

Thanks to the Chicago Wolves the Charlotte Checkers just ended their franchise-high seven-game win streak. They are looking to get back on their win streak by ending the five-game streak the Monsters currently hold.

These two games are the final time the two will meet in the 2016-17 season. The Checkers lead the series 4-2-0-0. However, all four of the Checkers wins were in their home barn. They have yet to win in Cleveland this season.

With the injury of Eddie Lack in Carolina on Monday, I would expect a change in goalies to come during the series for the Checkers.

Also on Monday, the Checkers received two pieces to their offensive puzzle which they think will complete their picture, Aleksi Saarela and Valentin Zykov.

Aleksi Saarela has been playing overseas in SM-Liiga for Lukko Rauma. While there he led the team in goals. This will be the first time Saarela has played in America. I would look for the Checkers to put the puck on his stick as much as possible.

Valentin Zykov has been playing for the Carolina Hurricanes during the month of March. He is both physical and skilled. The Monsters have faced him multiple times before and know what to do to shut him down.

The Monsters have been playing every game since they returned home on March 22nd like a playoff game. They have kept the energy and intensity up.

The only thing that worries me is the amount of shots the opposition was able to fire off last week. Over the course of four games, the Wolves and Wild fired off a combined 156 shots. That's an average of 39 shots per game. It doesn't seem so bad until you realize 52 of them came in the same game. The Monsters have good goalies but now is not the time to put on a clinic for the fans.

The dark horse, Dean Kukan, will need to step up this series. Most teams haven't seen what Kukan can do with the puck. If I was a betting girl, I would say most teams don't even view Kukan as a threat. The Monsters should take advantage of this and give Kukan the puck as much as possible this series. He'll find the back of the net.

Checkers Monsters
11-2-2-0 Leading After 1 22-3-0-5
22-1-2-0 Leading After 2 23-0-0-1
13-2-1-0 Tied After 1 12-5-2-0
8-2-0-0 Tied After 2 14-5-4-4
9-24-1-0 Trailing After 1 4-10-5-0
3-25-2-0 Trailing After 2 1-13-3-0
23-10-3-0 Outshooting Opponent 16-4-4-2
10-17-1-0 Outshot by Opponent 19-14-3-3

Season Series

12/20/2016 – Checkers (2) at Monsters (4) = W – recap

12/22/2016 – Checkers (2) at Monsters (3) = W – recap

1/13/2017 – Monsters (2) at Checkers (3) = L (SO) – recap

1/14/2017 – Monsters (3) at Checkers (5) = Lrecap

2/24/2017 – Monsters (4) at Checkers (5) = L (OT) – recap

2/25/2017 – Monsters (1) at Checkers (6) = L – recap

03/28/2017

03/30/2017

Stats Matchup

Checkers Monsters
2.68 (18) GPG 2.53 (26)
2.73 (9) GAPG 2.80 (15)
11.1% (30) PP% 14.4% (28)
80.7% (20) PK% 85.1% (2)
Lucas Wallmark, 23 G Leader Sonny Milano, 16
Andrew Poturalski, 32 A Leader T.J. Tynan, 25
Andrew Poturalski, 48 P Leader Sonny Milano, 37
Connor Brickley, 55 PIM Leader Brett Gallant, 102
10-18-3-0 Road/Home 19-10-2-2
7-3-0-0 Last 10 7-3-0-0
0-1-0-0 Streaks 5-0-0-0