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Syracuse Crunch week 11 in review: The view from the top

The Crunch is back on top of their division again, sitting pretty in first in the Northeast due to owing the tie-breaker with the Springfield Falcons. The Crunch is also second in the Eastern Conference, just one point behind Manchester.

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:

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.

Latest Stats for the Syracuse Crunch:

  • Regular season record (wins-losses-OT losses-SO losses): 19-7-3-0

  • Place in Eastern Conference (top 8 make the playoffs): 2nd

  • Place in Northeast Division: 1st

  • Top scorer: Yanni Gourde (12-12-24)
  • Top scoring defensemanNikita Nesterov (3-11-14)

  • Top defenseman, +/-Jean-Philippe Cote, +14

  • Top rookie: Joel Vermin (7-6-13)

Other transactions and player news:

-Forward Philippe Paradis returned to the Crunch lineup last week, and scored in his first return outing. Paradis was injured in a game against Rochester on Dec. 6th.

-Forward Eric Neilson is still out with the upper-body injury he suffered against Binghamton on Nov. 28.

-According to theahl.com, forward Jerome Samson has been reassigned by Tampa to Team Canada in order for him to play in the Spengler Cup.

-According to theahl.com, goalie Allen York has been returned to the Florida Everblades.

Syracuse Crunch media highlights: