Who's been setting the pace offensively for the Charlotte Checkers recently? A puck-hounding center? A hard-charging winger? Nope. It's versatile defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti.
During an 11-game streak ending Feb. 10, Sanguinetti scored at least one point per game to establish a team record. He rifled in the only goal in the Checkers' 3-1 loss to Norfolk last Sunday. And through Friday's games, he's tied for eighth among American Hockey League defensemen with 28 points.
Sanguinetti, a 24-year-old, fourth-year pro, has been on a roll.
"He's been a solid, two-way defensive player," said coach Jeff Daniels. "He's skating really well. He's joining the rush and creating more offense for us. For the last month, he's been our best defenseman."
Sanguinetti's productive play is one reason the Checkers have won six of their last 10 games, lead the Midwest Division by four points and are tied for the fourth-best record in the 30-team league through Friday.
But it hasn't been easy for the Trenton, N.J., native. He has had to rebound from two serious injuries in two years. A hip injury required surgery in late 2010, keeping him out of last season for four months. Then, in November, a broken foot kept him off the ice for a month.
"It's all part of the game," he said. "It's so frustrating. You can't control it. You've got to take the positive."
Sanguinetti said he's now fully healthy. He said he is getting back to his 2010 form reached during the preseason with Charlotte's NHL affiliate, the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina acquired him from the New York Rangers, where he played five NHL games.
"There's a little more jump in my step," Sanguinetti said last week.
Speed is one of Sanguinetti's strong points. In 2009-10, while playing for the Hartford Wolf Pack, he set a record in the Fastest Skater event during the AHL All-Star weekend, lapping the rink in 13.67 seconds.
Twenty of Sanguinetti's 28 points have come on the power play. He has worked on shooting more quickly from his blue-line position.
Daniels described Sanguinetti's shot as quick and accurate. "He's been a big reason why our power play has been really strong in the past month."
On the road again: Right wing Jerome Samson was called up Wednesday by the Carolina Hurricanes for the second time in a week. Samson leads the Checkers in goals, power- play goals and shots on goal.
NET WARRIOR: Rookie goalie John Muse, who boasts a 9-2 record after Friday's 4-2 win over Peoria, owns a 1.66-goals-against average and a .945 save percentage. That would rank him first among AHL goalies. But Muse has just 649 minutes, short of the 960 minimum needed to qualify for the league stats.