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Crunch Corner: Syracuse Crunch offense sizzles while the defense sputters

The Syracuse Crunch offense took a trip to Canada this past weekend while the defense forgot to board the bus.

After a snakebitten start to the new season, Crunch rookie forward Mathieu Joseph finally found the scoresheet Friday night in Laval.
Photo by Scott Thomas

The Syracuse Crunch took to the road this past week to try to pick up six much needed points against division rivals in Canada. As has been a theme as of late, the Crunch looked much better than their losing record would indicate. The bad news? In three contests up North, Syracuse was still only able to take two total points. It’s still just a month into the season, but are the Crunch running out of time to figure it out?

Weekend Scores

Day Home Away Boxscore Highlights
Day Home Away Boxscore Highlights
Wednesday, November 1st Senators 4 (So) Crunch 3
Friday, November 3rd Rocket 5 (SO) Crunch 4
Saturday, November 4th Rocket 5 Crunch 2

Weekly Assessments:

  • What worked?

Remember a few weeks ago when it seemed as if the Crunch couldn’t buy a goal if they wanted to? That seems to be a thing of the past, for now at least. While the defense is a different story that we will get into a little later, the offense certainly made the trip north of the border. In three games, the Crunch were able to net 10 goals from five different players.

More good news? The league’s worst power play lit the lamp five times last week to elevate them out of the cellar and improve their conversion rate to 10.8 percent on the season.

Overall, Cory Conacher scored two goals, Mathieu Joseph found the twine for his first two professional goals, and Carter Verhaeghe scored in his Crunch debut Saturday night after sitting out the the beginning of the campaign with an injury. Even the blue-liners chipped in offensively, with the Crunch getting two markers apiece from Ben Thomas and Dominik Masin.

Ben Groulx’s young squad finally seems to be finding chemistry with the puck on their sticks. With the way teams are scoring goals against the Crunch defenders and goalies, they couldn’t have found a better time to find their scoring touch.

  • What needs work going forward?

There aren’t going to be any nifty statistics to try to prove my point here simply because the big issue this past week was-and still is-painfully obvious. The Crunch offense played well while the defense forgot there was a road trip to Canada in general.

The ‘Cuse gave up three goals in regulation on Wednesday to Belleville, four goals in regulation on Friday to Laval, and another five to the same Laval team on Saturday night. I’m not sure that I have to express how difficult it is to win games when opposing teams are finding the back of your net at will, but I will anyhow.

Syracuse currently sits at second to last in the division in goals allowed with 42, and 26th in the league as a whole. When a team gives up a lot of goals, that team usually loses hockey games. Crazy concept right?

This is just another speed bump in a season we expect to be filled with growing pains and learning experiences. With the offensive production red-hot, the Crunch are a solid defense away actually being a contender in the loaded North Division.

  • First star of the week:

Mathieu Joseph - 2G, 3A

Coming off of an impressive 80 point season with the St. John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, expectations were through the roof for Crunch rookie forward Mathieu Joseph. At just 20-years-old, Joseph has impressed from his very first shift of the season. He is fast, he is smart, and he is shifty.

Still though, Crunch fans have been patiently waiting for the Laval native to put it all together and assault the boxscore with the same ferocity he did in his junior career. Even though it was away from the War Memorial, fans got a good idea of what makes Joseph one of the most exciting prospects to come through the Salt City since Nikita Kucherov. It’s a popular cliche, but, sometimes it just takes one to open the floodgates.

One thing is for certain, fans would love for the rookie star to take the reigns and secure the title of elite AHL scorer.

Honorable mentions:

Ben Thomas - 2G, 1A

Cory Conacher - 3G, 2A

Looking ahead:

Saturday November 11th vs Charlotte (8-3-0-0)