For Syracuse these days, there's a little hope on the horizon, but not enough to have fans overly optimistic for the first part of 2014. The negatives of the Crunch's game far outweigh the positives, but strong fan support--such as the numbers seen at the Onodndaga County War Memorial on Saturday (nearly 6,000 fans)--will go far in boosting the guys who don the white and blue.
-Inconsistent defense and goaltending writes checks that the offense can't cash: Saturday night, Syracuse got into a 2-0 hole before the end of the first period. That deficit would be extended to 3-0 before the offense finally started chipping in. The final score, however, would be 6-3.
-The injuries continue: an almost healthy Crunch was dinged again Saturday with another injury to forward Phillipe Paradis.
-Lack of firepower: The Crunch's two top scoreres are still Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov. , on recall to Tampa Bay, hasn't played in a Crunch uniform since November 23rd. Namestnikov was injured on November 22nd and hasn't played since. Third on the team in scoring is Cedric Paquette, but his 8-10-18 in 30 games total doesn't exactly elicit excitement.
-Sloppy play: Opinions of the Crunch haven't improved since last week. Zettler was critical of his team being too fancy once they got up by a goal or two. This week, it seemed like the Crunch had eaten a bit too much Christmas pudding during their holiday:
@syrhockey This might be the worst Crunch game Ive witnessed. No energy. Mind numbing turnovers. This isnt Crunch hockey.— Dave (@fitchjr1) December 29, 2013
A rare Sunday morning practice for the Crunch today. A well deserved present from Zettler after Saturdays debacle— Syracuse Hockey (@syrhockey) December 29, 2013
-Brett Connolly surging: After managing only 3 goals and 3 assists in the AHL for the whole of October and November (with a call up to the NHL in the middle of that), Connolly has gone 5-5-10 for the month of December, and actually looks like he's finally having fun out there. He is currently on a four-game point streak and has six points in the last four games he's played.
-The captain is getting in on the action: Mike Angelidis is another player who seems to have found his stride during the month of December. After netting only two goals and two assists during the first two month of the season, Angelidis was good for three goals and three assists during December.
Hope on the horizon:
-Originally, Crunch fans were told that the return of Namestnikov wouldn't be until after the first of the year at the earliest. Sunday, however, fans were treated to the following news:
Zettler also said Vladdy is looking almost certain to return Tuesday vs WBS— Syracuse Hockey (@syrhockey) December 29, 2013
We can only hope his return will spark good things for a team that desperately needs some kind of turn around.
Latest Stats for the Syracuse Crunch:
Regular season record (wins-losses-OT losses-SO losses): 13-13-1-3
Place in the conference standings (top 8 make the playoffs): Eleventh, down one from last week
Place in division standings: Fifth, down one from last week
Top scorer: Nikita Kucherov, 13-11-24
- Top scorer still active with the team: Cedric Paquette, 8-10-18
Top scoring defenseman: Dmitry Korobov, 0-12-12
- Top scoring defenseman still active with the team: Matt Taormina, 2-9-11
Top defenseman, +/-: Jean-Philippe Cote, +6
- Top defenseman, +/-, still active with the team: Artem Sergeev, 0
Top rookie: Nikita Kucherov, 13-11-24
- Top rookie still active with the team: Cedric Paquette, 8-10-18
Other Syracuse Crunch Player notes/transactions:
-Forward Geoff Walker changed his number from 67 to 8. The change was reflected in Saturday's line up, but not Friday's. The reason for the change has not been divulged by the team.
-Connolly scored twice on Friday, which was his first multi-goal game of the season.
-Friday was Angelidis' 500th professional game and 100th game with Syracuse.
-Defenseman Joey Mormina had his first point in 23 games Saturday.