Two weeks ago, we were in the basement. A good basement, not a figurative standings basement. This week, we're on top of the world.
Well, maybe not literally, but it sure feels that way to Crunch fans. As of right now, the Crunch have the best record in the American Hockey League, the most points in the league, and are first in their division and the Eastern Conference. They have also scored the most goals and have allowed the fewest shots-against in the league.
This team is good at the hockey for sure.
Because of all this, Crunch fans are pretty much floating around town. It isn't an embellishment to say that this is the best start in franchise history. We've had good teams before, but never this good.
The amazing thing is that the Crunch's top-of-the-league 37 points come amidst power play struggles and a goaltending tandem that hasn't quite shown the sparkle and pizzaz you'd expect of such a successful team. Our power play has been less that stellar so far this year, and hadn't scored in four games before potting two markers Saturday night. Our goaltenders have also struggled, with neither Dustin Tokarski nor Riku Helenius putting up consistent enough showings to be considered a solid number one.
However, with the power play's improved showing Saturday night, and with both goaltenders pitching back-to-back shutouts this past weekend, Crunch fans are hoping that both issues are on their way to being resolved. This would mean nothing but amazing things for a squad that's already got five players at or above the twenty-point marker for this season so far. In comparison, only two other teams even have four players who have hit that mark ( Oklahoma City Barons and Rockford IceHogs. The rest of the AHL trails behind, with eight teams yet to have a player to crack the t 20 point plateau.
In addition to all this, the Crunch boasts players who are willing to do one giant thing that isn't statistically tracked in the AHL: block shots. The team's league-low shots allowed, despite their league-high 681 PIM, clearly shows their dedication to stopping pucks before they get to the goaltenders. Our top shot blockers, measured purely by the amount of ice they need after every game, are J.P. Cote, Radko Gudas and Mike Angelidis.
Basically, this is a group who is amazingly dangerous when they do everything right, and still pretty deadly when things aren't all in place.
Regular season record (wins-losses-OT losses-SO losses): 17-6-1-2
Place in the conference standings (top 8 make the playoffs): First place
Place in division standings: First
Top scorer: Tyler Johnson, 16-11-27
Top scoring defenseman: Mark Barberio, 4-14-18
Top defenseman, +/-: Dimitry Korobov, +18
Top rookie: Alex Killorn, 8-10-18
Game attendance: 12/7: 5,028; 12/12: 4,613; 12/15: 5,467 (plus about 1,300 stuffed animals)
(Photo by Scott Thomas of Scott Thomas Photography and used with his permission. )