Workin’ For The Weekend: Two Times In Charlotte “Perfect Way”

Is there a “Perfect Way” to beat the Checkers?

Scritti Politti is a band in a long line of other bands that the 80’s dubbed both post-punk and synth-pop in the same breathe. A lead singer with the first name Green and an Italian Marxist inspired name, this is a group that wasn’t hugely popular stateside, save for a great song a about upper handing a relationship while simultaneously being upper handed.

The band took its inspiration from intelligent musings on life, society,and famous poetry. And although they were best remembered as a one-hit wonder of pop sophistication, there was a deeper and darker side to Politti’s music. And maybe that’s why the group took so many different forms in terms of session musicians alongside frontman Green Gartside – there was more substance to the group.

“Perfect Way”, the biggest US single for Scritti Politti, was a synth heavy fun times track released in 1985. It marked a turning point for the band, as they moved more towards electronic downbeats as opposed to “own instrumentation.”

This track, in particular, has been a longtime favorite of mine. I was headed towards Kindergarten when it was released, but it has such a great synth sound, it’s hard to deny its attractive qualities. High/low sung tones, 80’s drum beat, and a marching order rhythm. Good stuff.

It’s a song about finding those perfect ways of making someone better, but not really bettering yourself first. Typical 80’s.

I feel like it’s time to do some rejoicing. Our Barons finally have rattled off three quality wins in a row. They’ve figured out the power play, even strength scoring, defense, and third period fades. Sure there’s some rusty build up remaining on the penalty kill, overly committed offense, and early period buttery soft defense, but those things are overcome with time (fingers crossed). With a target squarely on the backs of the Hockey News’ “A” Team, overcoming gossip, and making things happen is something to smile about.

But I have the “Perfect Way” to continue the happiness, and yes, it involves winning. A proposition, a justification, a certain a maybe, a perfect way to make the girls go crazy or Oklahoma City hockey fans. Either way, I’m good.

Charlotte has always been a problematic team for the OKC Barons. They are quick, determined, and usually use both in their game plans when facing opponents whom are better or equally matched. Last season, they forced the play to the boards, and out of the middle. Oklahoma City didn’t know how to attack the middle, and the Checkers committed few penalties making things difficult.

Now that the team is in the same division as OKC, the need to “fix” the Charlotte Checkers is becoming increasingly important. But to understand how the team functions, you have to look at its parts.

Eight players in double digit scoring, two of those in double digit goals scored. With only one rookie, this is a team ready and stable. They are 3/4 winning at home, and a whopping winning 9/13 on the road. Ironically, they started the season on the road with 9 consecutive games, and dominated out of the gate.

Head coach and GM, Jeff Daniels, ices a roster that’s five men fewer than Oklahoma City, but they are strategically used in situations that play to their strengths. Brett Sutter, Zach Boychuk, and Zac Dalpe, Chris Terry, and Drayson Bowman are your leading forwards, and what a bunch they are. Bowman, is second in the league in goals scored with 11, but even more impressive is that 5 of those came on the power play.

Dan Ellis has been impressive in net. But so has his other half, Justin Peters. Dan Ellis is 5-2-2-2, but his goals against is among the lowest in the league at 1.71, and his save percentage is an incredible .948. Shots don’t get past him often.

In front of the tenders are two really good defensemen that have a knack for scoring, while playing solid defense. Justin Faulk and Bobby Sanguinetti play a solid game, and are some of the smartest in the league.

That’s all fine and dandy, but what really has positioned the Charlotte Checkers into the first place Western Conference spot is what all good teams do well – especially special teams. Best power play unit in the business. Almost the best penalty kill in the business. They’ll hit you from all sides. And this spells disaster for most opponents. Godspeed Barons.

Likely Oklahoma City Lineup:

Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Magnus Paajarvi – Anton Lander – Teemu Hartikainen
Dane Byers – Mark Arcobello – Toni Rajala
Philippe Cornet – Chris VandeVelde – Curtis Hamilton

Injured/IR: Tyler Pitlick, Tanner House, Ryan Martindale, Antti Tyrvainen, Josh Green
Healthy: Cameron Abney

Martin Marincin – Justin Schultz
Taylor Fedun – Colten Teubert
Alex Plante – Jordan Henry

Injured/IR: Brandon Davidson
Healthy: Teigan Zahn

Yann Danis

Random Thoughts:

Cornet is back! And is there a reason to ice Abney when speed is the name of the game in Charlotte? No, there isn’t. But keep in mind, the team favors Cam of late as part of some odd due diligence and maybe persuasion by the Oilers brass.

Go with Yann. If he’s strong, gets a good win, run him again Sunday. With a chance to gain some standing points, and an opportunity to close the gap on teams ahead of OKC (including Charlotte), you gotta win both of these. Roy might get a go, but Yann’s streaking, and there’s some hope that he makes a pre-Christmas run like last season.

This is a game that favors puck danglers. Eberle, Nuge, Hartikainen – all like to go big down the center, and through the edges. Finesse guys like Paajarvi will struggle.

I’ll go ahead and predict it. The secondary scoring is key in this one. Cornet, Arcobelo, Rajala, VandeVelde, and others will be integral for victory.

Games are Saturday and Sunday at 6:00pm Central and 2:00pm Central.