Early holiday presents are the best, aren't they? Well, Crunch fans got quite a few this past week:
1) The Crunch is back on top of their division. Syracuse won the East Division championship in 2013, and was briefly on top of that same division at the start of last season before things fell apart. Now the Crunch has clawed its way back up again, this time in the quite close Northeast Division (11 points separate 1st place and 5th place). Although technically tied with the Springfield Falcons, Syracuse owns the tie-breaker at the moment, so they get the number one slot. The Crunch also has a game-in-hand on the Falcons.
2) The Crunch is now second in the Eastern Conference. They are also only one point behind first place Manchester.
3) The return of a confident Kristers Gudlevskis. Before fellow netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy's recall to the Tampa Bay Lightning last week, it appeared as though Gudlevskis had lost the number one slot in Syracuse. Vasilevskiy had just been voted the AHL Player of the Week and was riding pretty high. But with Vasilevskiy on recall, Gudlevskis had the opportunity to show that he wasn't out of the competition just yet. The awesome news is that he sized the chance and ran with it. Gudlevskis has won four games in a row, including all three contests the Crunch played this past week. He's clearly found his stash of Latvian Calming Pie again, and is using it to once again rule the crease:
Meanwhile, Kristers has won his 11th game. He's let in 5 goals in his past 4 games and has .954 over that span.— Clare Austin (@Puckologist) December 21, 2014
4) The continuation of the longest winning streak the Crunch has seen in 6 years. Six years ago, while affiliated with the Columbus Blue Jackets and led by captain Zenon Konopka, the Crunch went on a 15-game winning streak that catapulted them into the Calder Cup playoffs. That team was one of the most beloved in Crunch history, and was really only eclipsed by the 2012-2013 team, a group that is now arguably the most beloved in Crunch history. To see a nine game streak right now with the current group of guys in Syracuse is pretty exciting. It's amazing to seem them living up to their potential.
Given all of this, one can't help but be a little excited by the possibilities in Crunch Land. It's incredibly early. The halfway mark of the season hasn't even been reached yet. There's still plenty of ways this can all fall apart.
For now, though, the holidays have just come a little early to Syracuse Crunch fans.
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