|Geoff Walker and Keven Veilleux have been a formidable pair of wingers down the stretch. Will they be able to out work and out hit Charlotte?|
In the first segment of breaking down the match ups in the East Division Finals between the Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins and Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes), we'll analyze the forward core of each team. We'll look at some of the strengths and weaknesses and key match ups to look for from both teams with the front 12.
The Penguins, who managed only nine goals in their first five playoff games, rattled off six goals in Game 6's series clinching 6-3 win over the Admirals. Sure two of those goals on Saturday night were empty net goals, but it was a good sign to see the forwards in the first period of that game really make a statement. They really controlled the play in that period because they played their game. All four lines were hitting, playing well in their own zone and creating offense. They'll need much of the same every night if they want to continue forward in the playoffs.
The forward lines have been pretty stable. Tim Wallace (injury), Joe Vitale (family), David Marshall (healthy) and Bryan Lerg (injury) have all missed time but all played in at least four of the six games.
- Wallace missed the first two games of the series and has played since. He's worked the rust off and has three points in four playoff games this year.
- Joe Vitale missed Game 3 in Norfolk to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. Vitale made it back for Game 4 and has been in the lineup since.
- Bryan Lerg hasn't played since Game 4 in Norfolk. Head coach John Hynes has described Lerg's status as "day-to-day" so not much coming from the team. Hopefully the time off before Thursday's Game 1 will be enough to get Lerg back to 100%. Lerg did miss time at the end of the regular season after leaving the ice in Hershey, but was ready for Game 1.
- David Marshall has been the 13th forward lately but has played in five of six games due to time missed by those three forwards. He hasn't played badly in his five appearances but hasn't done enough to be put in the lineup ahead of two other current fourth line forwards Ben Street and Jesse Boulerice.
Keven Veilleux - Ryan Craig - Geoff Walker
Brett Sterling - Joe Vitale - Nick Petersen
Chris Collins - Zach Sill - Tim Wallace
David Marshall-Ben Street- Jesse Boulerice
Scratches: Andy Bathgate (black aces), Ryan Schnell (black aces), Bryan Lerg (DTD)
Lerg could very well be ready to play in Game 1, which would change the lines a bit. He was the only Penguins player missing on Tuesday.
There's no doubt the Carolina Hurricanes top minor league affiliate has depth up front. WBS beat writer Jonathan Bombulie has shown a great example of that:
"Tonight [Game 6] against Hershey, Charlotte had Riley Nash, a first-round draft pick, and Jacob Mikflikier, a 29-goal and 61-point man in the regular season, on its fourth line."The Checkers put out four lines that can all score and create offense. Checkers forwards have scored 18 of the 19 goals they scored in the first round. Where Norfolk had injuries and call ups to their NHL team, the Checkers forwards have been healthy and their NHL affiliate Carolina did not make the postseason. They will be a tough group for the Penguins to match up against consistently, especially on the road when the Checkers will get the last change.
Brett Sutter - Zac Dalpe - Zach Boychuk
Drayson Bowman - Nick Dodge - Oskar Osala
Chris Terry - Jon Matsumoto - Nicolas Blanchard
Jacob MicFlikier - Brad Herauf - Riley Nash