This was a series that was supposed to play into the Chicago Wolves favor. But it was the Charlotte Checkers who were the team that came to play tonight. The Wolves were always a step behind, at both ends of the ice. For anyone who has watched the Wolves this season this was a different team on display.
The young roster filled with rookies just looked overwhelmed and not up for the battle against the Checkers. Terribly timed turnovers killed this game off and the 4-0 score line could have been much worse if Ville Husso didn't bail them out time and time again. Husso ended the night with 23 saves on 26 shots. The final goal was an empty netter but by that point a comeback was a farfetched idea.
Offensively the Wolves struggled to have much traffic in front of Tom McCollum, who had himself a 20 save shutout. It’s worth noting that the league MVP Kenny Agostino looks to be playing with some sort of an injury, the forward did miss the final game of the regular season. Even with the extra rest Agostino really struggled to make an impact on the contest. Whether he plays game two or not remains to be seen.
So were there any positives about the game? Despite losing the game in such dominating fashion both Samuel Blais and Mackenzie MacEachern had themselves a productive night. Blais continues to never give up on the puck while MacEachern was one of the few players who played a “playoff style” of game. This was one of the things that really stood out. The lack of physical play. Both sides were playing the game smart and trying to not put themselves down a man but the lack of emotion till the final few minutes of the game was a bit shocking.
The Wolves won’t have much time to think about this game and that's probably a good thing. Game two is Friday night at 6:15 and the “Baby Blues” just need to return to how they played all season. There isn't much room for error as unlike in the NHL, the AHL playoffs have a five game series in the opening rounds. Notable scratches tonight were Jordan Kyrou, Brad Malone, and Conner Bleackley. This series is far from over but it’d be in the Wolves best interest to tie this series up before heading back to Chicago.