The Syracuse Crunch were back on home ice to try and redeem themselves after an effort last week that resulted in just two out of a possible six points. Ben Groulx’s squad, although still very far from perfect, showcased heart and resiliency this past weekend against a talented Binghamton Devils team and a young Springfield Thunderbirds team. We knew it would take a while but the Crunch finally appear to be closing in on finding their identity.
|Friday October 20||Syracuse 2||Devils 3||https://theahl.com/stats/game-summary/1017184||https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TO9xc84_2vA|
|Saturday October 21||Syracuse 4||Thunderbirds 1||https://theahl.com/stats/game-summary/1017198||https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsBaH5Eq90o|
- What worked?
While the Crunch have clearly had some issues in the early going of the season, one of the most impactful problems has been their complete lack of discipline. Syracuse is currently the second most penalized team in the Eastern Conference and the fifth most penalized team in the league with 107 penalty minutes.
For a team that is struggling to find their way with a roster that’s comprised of nine rookies and just a handful of veterans, it’s senseless to make things more difficult on themselves. Through the first two contests last week, the Crunch handed out 11 man-advantages to their opponents. While they were mostly successful giving up only two powerplay tallies, it’s tough to score if you are constantly on your heels fighting to keep the puck out of your own net.
The good news? The “baby bolts” made things much easier on themselves this past Friday and Saturday night by limiting the opposition to just six total chances on the power play. Perhaps another telling tale came in the fact that Cory Conacher and Tye McGinn, two of the veterans who should be leading by example yet are the highest penalized players on the team, stayed out of the sin-bin and found the score sheet instead.
The penalty kill units also came up big for the ‘Cuse on Friday night by killing all three minor penalties they were assessed and even scoring two goals on the same kill.
Now for the bad news. The shorthanded markers scored on Friday night by Michael Bournival and Erik Cernak means that the Crunch have the same amount of goals on the penalty kill as they have on the power play. That’s a story we’ll continue to follow.
One penalty. Two shorties. pic.twitter.com/XclH9mI8sc— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) October 21, 2017
- What needs work going forward?
The Crunch are a lowly 2-for-43 on the man-advantage so far this season, but for the sake of not sounding like a broken record we will be looking at other reasons for their play.
The team isn’t playing physically enough. Through the first seven games of the season, Syracuse hasn’t had too much of a problem getting the puck deep into the offensive zone. It’s been the task of keeping the puck there and hemming teams into their own end that has proven to be burdensome.
In years past, one of the things the Crunch has been really good at is creating pressure by banging around in the corners, winning battles along the boards, and tiring out the defense by endlessly cycling the puck. All the Crunch seems to be doing so far is breaking out of their own zone, gaining the line, throwing the puck into the corner, losing the important possession battles on the wall, and repeating the process. The results - or lack-there-of -speak for themselves.
More scoring opportunities and less of a neutral zone battle will come with more aggressiveness. I hate to be the “hit somebody!” guy but... hit somebody.
First star of the week:
Conor Ingram: First professional win
Crunch rookie goaltender Conor Ingram was nothing short of spectacular in his two outings this past weekend. The youngster came into Friday's matchup with Binghamton just minutes into the opening period after starter Michael Leighton gave up two goals in rapid succession.
Ingram went on to turn aside 19 of the 20 bids he faced keeping Syracuse within striking range. Saturday night, the former Kamloops Blazers star earned his first career professional win by stopping 22 out of the 23 shots he against him. It marked a career milestone for the young goalie and lifted the Crunch out of a three game losing streak.
Michael Bournival - 3G
Adam Erne - 2A
Friday, October 27th vs Toronto (5-2-0-0)
Saturday, October 28th @ Rochester (2-3-0-0)