Sometimes, when a hockey team has performed particularly bad, they get so irritated with themselves that they come out the next game and throw everything on the ice, hoping that something will stick. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Other times, it's more of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde situation, with a team being able to perform better under certain circumstances--home vs. away, or with one goalie in the net over another--with it appearing that the team has two different personalities.
Syracuse Crunch fans are still unsure which personality they're dealing with, but all involved would certainly appreciate a more predictable ride.
The Crunch went from zero to hero in the span of 48 hours this past weekend, appearing to over come a dismal performance Friday night with a dazzling third period Saturday that saw four different players score goals. But, the American Hockey League season is long, and most Crunch fans realize that the true face of their team has yet to consistently appear.
Friday night, the Crunch was in serious Dr. Jekyll mode against the Rochester Americans. They were drab, boring, uninspired, and just...well...bad. Syracuse allowed yet another shorthanded goal, something that has become a habit for them: the Crunch has allowed twice as many shorthanded goals as it has scored while on the man advantage. Although Syracuse managed to put up nearly 40 shots that night, their quality chances were probably under 10 or so. They got shutout 3-0 by an Amerks squad who put slightly more than half the numbers of shots on goal the Crunch did, with goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy taking the loss. The team as a whole did not look like a group of second tier hockey players one injury away from an NHL call up, that's for sure.
Saturday night, the Crunch came out of the first two periods against the Binghamton Senators looking okay. The score was tied at two-two. Mike Blunden and Slater Koekkoek had scored for Syracuse, while goalie Kristers Gudlevskis had stopped 17 of 19 shots. Koekkoek's tally was even a power play goal, a rarity right now for this group. But, then, at some point in the third, the Crunch went full on Mr. Hyde, completely flipping the script and scoring four tallies to win the game with a 6-3 final. Cody Kunyk, Joel Vermin, Dalton Smith, and the newly-returned Cedric Paquette scored the goals. Gudlevskis ended the night with three goals allowed on 28 shots.
Although Saturday night was certainly a fun game, Crunch fans who saw the same team whiff it Friday aren't feeling all that secure that the Mr. Hyde version of the Crunch is here to stay. This all begs the question: what is going on in Syracuse? What is happening in that locker room? What isn't happening that needs to?
Hopefully, some answers--or at least some consistency--will come this weekend, with the Crunch at home again for a pair of games against the Norfolk Admirals.