The end of the year approaches, so "Best Of" lists and nostalgia abound across pretty much every entertainment platform out there. Celebrating the highs and lamenting the lows at the end of a year is ingrained in nearly everyone, and I don't think that's a bad thing. So, I'm doing it, too.
The past year was an eventful one for the Syracuse Crunch. In the span of one year, from December to December, the Crunch went from losing almost every game during the month of December in 2013 to winning almost every game during the month of December in 2014. Although the Crunch's big singular event in 2014 was clearly the record-breaking Frozen Dome Classic, it could be said that the collection of games Syracuse played on their way to a 10-game winning streak was an even bigger event.
A lot of things came together at exactly the right time to make that 10-game streak possible. Yes, the Crunch had a lot of luck on their side, something which always helps in hockey. The hard thing with luck, though, is that you never know when it's going to run out. Many feel that the streak ended sooner than it should have, with the Crunch losing what was considered by most to be a trap game against AHL bottom-feeders Worcester this past Saturday. But, luck or not, a 10-game winning streak is nothing to sneeze at in the AHL.
Date it started:
-November 29th, 2014.
The Crunch were at the Hershey Bears and won 4-1.
Last win of the streak:
-December 26th, 2014.
The Crunch won at home in overtime against the Albany Devils. The final score was 3-2.
Important transactions that occurred during that time frame:
-Forward Vladislav Namestnikov was assigned to Syracuse on 12/5/14.
Namestnikov scored five goals and netted six assists during the 10 game streak, including the overtime game-winner that extended the streak to 10 on 12/26. He played in nine of the 10 games.
-Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was recalled to Tampa Bay on 12/16/14.
Although the recall had the chance to dash the streak--4 of the 5 games the Crunch had won so far had been started by Vasilevskiy--instead it gave netminder Kristers Gudlevskis a chance to shine. Gudlevskis seized the moment and the spotlight, winning the next four for the Crunch before Vasilevskiy returned and won the 10th game of the streak for the Crunch.
The player who scored the most goals:
-Forwards Mike Angelidis and Namestnikov both scored five goals during this time period.
Angelidis, who is also the captain of the Crunch, has never been more clutch for his team. Last season, Angelidis was well-known for responding during blowouts, scoring a goal just when things seemed completely hopeless. The Crunch would rarely win those games, but Angelidis showed time and time again that he refused to let his team go down without a fight. This season, Angelidis has taken the reins in some way almost every game and helped lead his team with scoring as well as all of the intangibles that he is known for. Nowhere was this more evident than during the Crunch's 10 game streak.
And then there's Namestnikov. His NHL-caliber speed and playmaking ability has been invaluable since his send-down. His presence rejuvenated the roster and helped to lift anyone he played on the same line with into another stratosphere.
The player with the most game-winning goals:
-Namestnikov had two game-winning goals during the streak.
Namestnikov's game-winners came in back-to-back games. All of the other game winners were scored by different players.
The biggest pleasant surprise:
-Forward Philippe Paradis.
Granted, he had just two goals and one assist during the streak, but he also missed a week and a half due to injury. However, anyone who has been watching him will attest to the fact that Paradis has been turning on the talent, and he's been showing off some of the moves that are reminiscent of the player he was when he was a first-round pick in 2009. The coaching staff has rewarded him with special team minutes, utilizing him on both the penalty kill and the power play.
The biggest "Wait, he still plays here?" player:
-Forward Cody Kunyk.
Kunyk scored twice during the 10 game streak, but both goals were scored in one game: the game at Hershey that started the streak at the beginning in November. Kunyk hasn't scored since, and only has 4 goals total for the entire season. He netted two assists during the winning streak, but has largely been invisible....or visible for the wrong reasons, as Kunyk also has the worst +/- on the team, a -8.
Total amount of power play goals scored:
The Crunch had 47 total power play chances during the streak and had a scoring percentage of 17%.
Speaking of the power play...
Biggest weakness during the 10 game streak:
-The Crunch's power play.
The Crunch had 47 total power play chances during the streak and had a scoring percentage of 17%. The Crunch has some of the most talented players in the league, yet they can't really manage a viable power play even when they're winning. No matter the unit, the players seem to lack confidence in whatever plan the coaches come up with, and it shows when they're on the ice and in the results.
And, finally, a little bit of luck goes a long way...
-Tampa Bay stayed relatively healthy during this stretch, requiring little in terms of personnel support from Syracuse.
Other than the aforementioned goalie call up, no other Syracuse roster player spent time with Tampa Bay from November 29th, the start of the streak, to December 26th. That stability certainly went a long way in helping the Crunch accumulate as many wins as they did.
Although Crunch fans probably won't see another run like that for the remainder of this AHL season, it was certainly fun while it lasted.
Happy New Year, TampaCuse readers! See you in 2015.