ICYMI @RawCharge: #SyrCrunch week 22 in review   Leave a comment

As weekends go, this past one was a tough test for the Syracuse Crunch. No weekend so far this season seemed to have contained as many challenges. The Crunch was due to face three different teams, teams who were/are all in the playoff picture in their conferences. All three teams could be considered rivals, in some way. And all three teams had something to fight for.

All contests had their unique and challenges, and to come away with four out of six points was something Syracuse would be more than happy to take. The Crunch won Friday and Sunday against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (WBS) and Springfield, respectively, but lost to Utica in-between, on Saturday. However, four points were gladly taken considering WBS  was breathing down the Crunch’s neck in points in the Eastern Conferece, Springfield was on edge of the playoff bubble and fighting to stay there, and Utica was in the top three of the Western Conference.

Goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis shined on both Friday and Sunday, stopping 40 out of 42 shots between the two games. His confidence was never rattled during either game, and this clearly rubbed off on those in front of him. Gudlevskis netted his 21st win of the season Friday, and his 22nd Saturday.

The highlight of the weekend was most certainly Friday’s game. Syracuse and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton definitely had a playoff vibe going in the Onondaga County War Memorial that night. The score was 1-1 at the end of regulation. Yanni Gourde had scored for the Crunch, Tom Kostopoulos for the Penguins. Both teams survived 4-on-4 overtime, so the game went to 3-on-3. The Penguins had 6 shots on goal. The Crunch only one.

Then, with just over two minutes left in overtime, the Crunch’s second shot of the extra frame went past Penguin’s goaltender Matt Murray. The shot had come from defenseman Slater Koekkoek, and would count as Koekkoek’s first OT game-winner.

Such a strong weekend did much to further the Crunch’s post-season hopes. Syracuse remains in first place in the Northeast Division and is now seven points ahead of second-place Hartford. Syracuse is guaranteed either the first, second, or third seed in the Eastern Conference if they can hold onto first place in their division, so keeping Hartford at bay is really the only major concern Syracuse has.

The Crunch plays Hartford one more time before the end of the season. They also currently have a game-in-hand on the Wolf Pack.

Syracuse will visit the Leigh Valley Phantoms on Wednesday before playing at home Friday, against Bridgeport, and Saturday, against Rochester.

Latest Stats for the Syracuse Crunch:

Other transactions and player news:

-Crunch players JP Cote, Mike Angelidis, and Eric Neilson are teaming together and are encouraging Crunch fans to save their change and donate it to a great cause. The funds will go to pediatric cancer research and will stay in the CNY area. TampaCuse enthusiasts can get in on the action, too, by going to the team’s Go Fund Me page.

-Angelidis was returned to the Syracuse Crunch from the Tampa Bay Lightning this past Friday.

-The Crunch’s PK continued to excel this past weekend, led by defenseman Luke Witkowski. None of the teams the Crunch faced were able to score while on the power play. It helped that the Crunch was also incredibly well-disciplined all weekend and only allowed their opponents six total power plays.

Syracuse Crunch media highlights:

The Crunch’s SoundCloud has been updated with broadcasts and player interviews from the past week.

Quick content update: The #SyrCrunch captain is back!!!!   Leave a comment

He’s back!

Syracuse Crunch captain Mike Angelidis has been returned to the farm club of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Not only is the Crunch heading into one of their most difficult and challenging weekends of the season, but Angie is also expecting his second baby in the coming week or so.

It is so good to see him back in Syracuse!! Welcome back, Captain!!

Posted March 20, 2015 by allokago in Uncategorized

New content! Big test of #SyrCrunch playoff potential comes this weekend   Leave a comment

A good and loyal reader and friend complained the other day that there just isn’t enough original content coming to this blog lately. So, here, good and loyal reader. Enjoy :p.

There’s been a lot of concerns this season about the ability of the Syracuse Crunch to maintain any kind of realistic pressure. A lot of us have been saying all season that the sky is falling, that the team isn’t living up to its roster potential, that there’s no depth to fall back on as both Syracuse and Tampa Bay fight in the playoffs, that not enough has been done to replace players lost to injury or call ups.

All of this is true, to one extent or another. The bottom has fallen out on this team several times this season (a 10-0 loss to Adirondack ring a bell?). The team’s top four scorers for almost the entire season have included one full line of talent (Jonathan Marchessault, Yanni Gourde, and Vladislav Namestnikov) and Mike Angelidis, who just isn’t known for his scoring prowess. Angie has been working his ass off this season, setting an amazing example and kicking butt on the ice and on the score sheet.  He’s now called up to Tampa, and his absence has allowed another player to slide into 4th, but for the majority of the season, Angie’s scoring streak has helped the Crunch along the most. His loss, and the loss of Vladdy (also to a call up), and  the loss of guys like Mike Blunden and Phillip Paradis to injury, plus the bust that big summer signing Jermone Samson turned out to be, seriously put a crimp in the Crunch’s depth. Yes, the Lightning has signed some players in the past few weeks, but not anyone that can replace the likes of Vladdy for scoring or Blunden for leadership.

However, to absolutely give credit where credit is due, through one miracle at a time, the Crunch has yet to fall out of the AHL’S playoff picture. Syracuse has been leading the Northeast Division for most of the season, and although their playoff position has fluctuated, I don’t believe they’ve fallen out of the top four. The Crunch is currently in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference with 80 points and a magic number of 20. In second place is the East Division leader Hershey, who has 83 points and a magic number of 17. First place Manchester has 84 points and a magic number of 16. Breathing down the Crunch’s neck in points is the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. They’re in 4th with 78 points.

The good news is that, as long as Syracuse continues the lead the Northeast, the Baby Pens would have to overtake the Hershey Bears in order to leap-frog the Crunch in the standings. This is because divisional seeding matters for the first three places in the Conference. It isn’t impossible, but the move to the Northeast Division last summer now gives the Crunch a little bit of a cushion. The team closest to the Crunch in the Northeast is Hartford, who has 74 points.

The Crunch plays WBS this weekend. Unfortunately for Syracuse, the Pens have been playing some great hockey lately. They’re 8-2-0-0 in their last 10. The Crunch is 6-4-0-0, although they’re coming off of a three-game winning streak last weekend. However, as I pointed out in my Raw Charge update this past week, none of the teams Syracuse beat last weekend are in playoff contention at the moment. Although it speaks well of the depleted Crunch that they didn’t fold and play to the level of their opponents, WBS will be a much tougher test for Syracuse. The contest will also be a pretty good measuring stick for the Crunch’s playoff readiness.

In fact, the whole weekend will be one tiring test after another of the Crunch’s playoff potential. After facing WBS on Friday, the Crunch then play Utica on Saturday, a team that is currently third in the Western Conference. The Comets are a team that’s fairly evenly matched with the Crunch, and has been all season. Finally, on Sunday, Syracuse visits Springfield, a team that is third in the Crunch’s Northeast Division with 73 points. The Falcons are currently in the last playoff spot in the Conference, and are fighting tooth and nail to stay there.

None of these contests are going to be easy, and if things continue the way they have been in Tampa, help won’t be coming any time soon. Mike Angelidis is expected to be up for at least another week while forward Cedric Paquette is recovering. Vladdy won’t be back for another few weeks with Ondrej Palat out, and defenseman Nikita Nesterov will remain up, as well.

 

Quick edit:

(YAY!)

The Lightning play again tomorrow night.

Pray for no injuries, Crunch Land.

ICYMI from @RawCharge: #SyrCrunch week 21: Strong defense and goaltending get results   Leave a comment

After last weekend’s struggle, things were feeling kind of bleak in Crunch Town. Although the team was still very much in the playoff race – third place in the Eastern Conference – performances like that could be straws that break backs. Syracuse’s up and down season seemed to be capsulized in those two games, and looking ahead at a three-in-three filled with potential traps, fans weren’t feeling too confident. The call up of Syracuse captain Mike Angelidis, a player who has been one of the only consistent forces on the Crunch’s roster all season, certainly didn’t help the mood.

Luckily for the team and its fans, defenseman Luke Witkowski and his merry band of penalty killers stepped in and basically saved the weekend. Witkowski is definitely making the most out of his time back in Syracuse. Combing their amazing performance with some of the best goaltending the Crunch has seen since the call up of Andrei Vasilevskiy resulted in a fairly solid six points for Syracuse. The sweep of their weekend competition helped to widen the Crunch’s lead on Northeast Divisional foe Hartford, 80 points to 74.

The Crunch handed their opponents 17 power plays over the three games: Adirondack got three and capitalized on one, Albany got seven and was denied every time, and Bridgeport also got seven and wasn’t allowed to score. Leading the charge on the PK was Witkowski, who was relentless on every kill, taking huge minutes and doing everything he could to keep the puck from going in the net. He and the PK unit was especially effective Saturday night in Albany, when the Crunch handed Albany not one but two three-on-three chances, one in the second and one in the third.

In addition to leading Syracuse’s PK unit to all kinds of success, Witkowski also got the eventual game-winning goal Friday night versus Adirondack. Although obviously a bit strapped for offensive talent at the moment, the still Crunch managed to put the puck in the net seven times. Joining Witkowski on the score sheet was Yanni Gourde, Ryan Martindale (who scored twice), Carter Ashton, Tanner Richard, and Jake Dotchin. Adirondack scored four times throughout the first and the second, but goalie Kristers Gudlevskis slammed the door on the Flames in the third period, which allowed the Crunch to score four unanswered goals to win the game.

Saturday at Albany, the Crunch decided to rest Gudlevskis and start goalie Allen York, who hadn’t seen any ice time since February 27th. York was able to show a lot of the flash against the Devils that got him signed by the Lightning to an NHL contract a few weeks ago, making several highlight-reel-worthy saves throughout the game and keeping Albany off the board for most of the contest. It actually looked like he was going to escape with the shutout until Albany’s Raman Hrabarenka scored with four seconds left in the game. Still, the Crunch scored two goals–Carter Ashton’s second of the weekend was joined by a goal from Crunch lead scorer Jonathan Marchessault–so Syracuse escaped with a 2-1 victory.

Sunday, Gudlevskis started and ended the game with a well-deserved smile. Gudlevskis and the Crunch’s defense fought off all 29 shots on goal from Bridgeport, keeping the puck out of the net for all three periods. Gudlevskis earned his second shutout of the season while Gourde and newcomer Justin Courtnall secured the win with a goal each.

None of the teams the Crunch faced this past weekend are currently in the playoff picture, but all three are still fighting for a chance. None of them are mathematically eliminated, and the Crunch has had a nasty habit of falling into games like this and not showing anywhere near their best. There’s still a lot of hockey to play, but this was an encouraging weekend for all.

Latest Stats for the Syracuse Crunch:

Other transactions and player news:

-Crunch players JP Cote, Mike Angelidis, and Eric Neilson are teaming together and are encouraging Crunch fans to save their change and donate it to a great cause. The funds will go to pediatric cancer research and will stay in the CNY area. TampaCuse enthusiasts can get in on the action, too, by going to the team’s Go Fund Me page.

-Forward Tanner Richard was a “late decision” healthy scratch Saturday night for the first time this season.

-Marchessault became the first Crunch player to reach 50 points this season. Last season,Brett Connolly was the only full-season-ish (66 games) Crunch player to hit that milestone, with 57 points total.

Syracuse Crunch media highlights:

The Crunch’s SoundCloud has been updated with broadcasts and player interviews from the past week.

ICYMI @RawCharge: #SyrCrunch week 20 in review

Three weeks ago, when the Syracuse Crunch was on top of the AHL, the playoffs looked like a sure thing despite all of the upsthe downs, the sideways, and the loop-da-loops of the season.

However, after a series of games that made the Crunch look more like duds than winners, Syracuse’s postseason goal is looking more and more like a suggestion rather than a guarantee.

The AHL’s Eastern Conference is currently tighter than a drum. Less than 10 points separate the first place team (Manchester, 79 points) and the 9th place team (Hartford, 68 points). The 8th place team (currently Worcester) is the last team to qualify for the playoffs. Three different groupings of teams in the top 9 are tied in points. Syracuse’s past-10 record of 4-5-1-0 is second worse in the conference, behind only 7th place Springfield’s 4-4-2-0. The Crunch’s 167 goals against record is the highest in the current top 8 of the conference.

Syracuse once had the lowest “magic number” in the AHL. The league starts tracking progress towards the playoffs around now, and the magic number is the amount of points clinch a spot in the AHL playoffs. The Crunch’s magic number is currently 29. Manchester and Hershey (second in the conference) both have 24 as their magic number at this moment in time. They’ve been winning games to impact their number; the Crunch has had to count on lower-seeded teams losing in order to lower their own. That method obviously takes Syracuse’s fate out of their hands.

The AHL’s trade deadline was today. Tampa Bay was one of the teams that made a move for their farm team, trading future considerations for forward Justin Courtnall. Courtnall had four goals and three assists in 40 games this season with Hatford. He had nine points in 62 games with Hamilton last season. He is a former Lightning prospect. This makes the second former Lightning prospect signed for the Crunch this season. The first was Carter Ashton.

Being frank, this signing will not help this team win games. Period. Courtnall is another depth signing, and many fans are actually kind of confused as to why Tampa made this move. Syracuse needs skill, not another grider/role-player. But with the passing of both the NHL deadline last week and the AHL deadline today, no new help is coming now. Vladislav Namestnikov might be on his way again, but he also might not. If he does get sent back down, the moment something else happens with Tampa, he’s gone.

Or Yanni Gourde is gone.

Or Jonathan Marchessault is gone.

Yes, as many are quick to point out, help from juniors/college ranks will be on the way to Syracuse soon. But looking for those guys to step in on the first line and fill, say, Namestnikov’s shoes immediately is asking for a miracle.

The Crunch will either adjust somehow or continue to lose. It’s that simple. That reality is very frustrating for those that love this team. It also has to be maddening for players like Mike Angelidis, JP Cote, Gourde, Marchessault, and Luke Witkowski who will do, and have done, everything in their power to see this team succeed.

Latest Stats for the Syracuse Crunch:

Other transactions and player news:

-Crunch players JP Cote, Mike Angelidis, and Eric Neilson are teaming together and are encouraging Crunch fans to save their change and donate it to a great cause. The funds will go to pediatric cancer research and will stay in the CNY area. TampaCuse enthusiasts can get in on the action, too, by going to the team’s Go Fund Me page.

Syracuse Crunch media highlights:

The Crunch’s SoundCloud has been updated with broadcasts and player interviews from the past week.

Welcome to the Birthday Bash!

allokago:

One year ago today, some completely amazing people in their own right got together because of MJ to do something incredible for me. I’ve had this book marked ever since, as we all need something like this as a pick-me-up. It’s picked-me-up many, many times, as has a follow-up e-mail I got not long after this went live. I’d like to thank everyone again, from the bottom of my heart.

Originally posted on Chairman How's Glorious Army:

Over the course of the last few years, one thing around here has become glaringly apparent. When I show up, it’s an occasion. So, what’s the occasion this time? Is it railing about internet freedom, or genocide on trial? No, this time it’s actually something pertinent!

At some point this month, this place celebrated its sixth birthday, and that seemed like cause to celebrate. And, really, what’s a birthday party without someone singing about it?

Er, yes…

View original 3,112 more words

Posted February 28, 2015 by allokago in Uncategorized

ICYMI on @RawCharge: #SyrCrunch week 18 in review: Crunch keep moving forward

When AHL team appears to be on the skids, a looming 3-in-3 against historically tough in-state rivals–in this case, the Albany Devils, the Binghamton Senators, and the Rochester Americans–can sometimes be the last thing a team needs. When a team was outscored by a wide margin the previous week (as wide as 14-1, in fact, but who’s counting?) that challenging 3-in-3 can suddenly look like climbing Mt. Everest without a rope. With that kind of gauntlet in front of them, most teams might hope for a three-point split and be happy.

Lucky for all involved, a team that would settle for that is not the Syracuse Crunch. Nope, at least not right now, and not by a long shot. In fact, after everything was said and done Sunday, the Crunch officially had the best record in the American Hockey League.

The Crunch swept the weekend, earning all six points possible and outscoring their three opponents by a 12-7 margin. Over the course of the weekend, 8 different Crunch players scored goals, including Mike Angelidis, who had a three-point weekend, Carter Ashton, who scored his first goal in a Crunch uniform Saturday, and Vladislav Namestnikov, whose weekend haul included two game-winning goals and three assists. Syracuse also saw their defenseman speak up, with Jake Dotchin and Matt Corrente scoring goals. Defensemen Corrente, Slater Koekkoek, Joey Mormina, and JP Cote all also picked up a handful of assists throughout the weekend.

On the goalie front, Kristers Gudlevskis played Friday and Saturday, stopping 40 of the 44 shots he faced during the two games against Albany and Binghamton. Allen York played on Sunday in Rochester, giving Gudlevskis a well-deserved rest and getting himself up off the pine. York stopped a respectable 26 of the 29 shots he faced. Of the three goals York let in, one was a power play goal and one was a break-away goal.

However, the weekend had one dull spot: Syracuse’s struggling power play let in their 9th short-handed goal of the season Saturday night. Overall, Syracuse’s power play was 1-for-12 on the weekend, and is also clearly a defensive liability. It just seems as though a four-forward unit doesn’t work with this team. There’s too many defensive liabilities out there with the Crunch’s young and fairly inexperienced blue line, especially with Luke Witkowski and Nikita Nesterov still up with the Lightning, for the team to run four forwards and one defenseman. Also, of note is that the forward who scored the Crunch’s lone power play goal all weekend was Angelidis and not a guy like Namestnikov. Syracuse is in desperate need of a game-plan change, like a defenseman who can step up and be able to quarterback the man advantage.

The Crunch will have all of two days to recharge before heading back to Rochester on Wednesday. Syracuse will then face another challenging weekend when Albany comes back to town on Friday followed by the Utica Comets, who are currently in second place in the Western Conference.

Latest Stats for the Syracuse Crunch:

  • Regular season record (wins-losses-OT losses-SO losses): 32-13-8-0

  • Place in Eastern Conference (top 8 make the playoffs): 1st

  • Place in Northeast Division: 1st

  • Top scorer: Jonathan Marchessault (13-28-41)
  • Top scoring defensemanSlater Koekkoek (3-13-16)

  • Top defenseman, +/-Jean-Philippe Cote, +11

  • Top rookie: Joel Vermin (9-12-21)

Other transactions and player news:

-The Crunch welcomed back top scorer Jonathan Marchessault this past weekend after a two-week absence from the team due to injury. Defenseman Dylan Blujus also returned from injury.

-Crunch players JP Cote, Mike Angelidis, and Eric Neilson are teaming together and are encouraging Crunch fans to save their change and donate it to a great cause. The funds will go to pediatric cancer research and will stay in the CNY area. TampaCuse enthusiasts can get in on the action, too, by going to the team’s Go Fund Me page.

-Namestnikov was named the AHL Player of the Week just this afternoon for his performance this past weekend. From the league’s official release:

Namestnikov notched three goals and three assists for six points along with a plus-5 rating in three games last week as the Crunch moved into first place in the overall AHL standings.

-Goalie Allen York was signed by the Lightning to an NHL/AHL two-way contract this afternoon.

Syracuse Crunch media highlights:

The Crunch’s SoundCloud has been updated with broadcasts and player interviews from the past week.

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