As expected, game one between Syracuse (1st seed) and St. John’s (4th seed) started off with a bang last night. The game was intense and physical, and Syracuse clearly struggled from the start with keeping the IceCaps out of their heads. St. John’s took the game from a (surprisingly?) disorganized, undisciplined Crunch with a 2-1 final. The series continues tonight in Newfoundland for game two before shifting to Syracuse on Wednesday.
A best-of-three series obviously has less room for error than a best-of-four. The Crunch doesn’t want to come back to Syracuse staring down three elimination games in a row, even on home ice. The importance of a win tonight cannot be overstated. Communication, especially among Syracuse’s defensemen, needs to be better, and the Crunch’s special teams better be prepared to work together and play.
But, wait! I am behind on everything, who’s doing what, where?
No problem, dear reader! Here’s everything you need to get caught up:
- You can’t miss Raw Charge’s own CrunchCast if you’re looking for our homegrown opinion of the series.
- Be sure to check out Brandon Curtis’ playoff preview article.
- Brandon also guest-starred over at Eyes on the Prize to answer some questions about the series from the Syracuse perspective (St. John’s is Montreal’s farm team).
- Speaking of Eyes on the Prize, their writer Scott Matla hopped on over here earlier this week to tell about the series from the IceCaps’ perspective.
- The Crunch’s SoundCloud has been filling up with all kinds of great stuff lately, including interviews with former Tampa Bay Lightning players Jake Dotchin and Gabriel Dumont.
- You can find coverage from the team’s beat writer and others, including our friend Brent Axe, over at Syracuse.com.
Okay, I’m good. So...what happened last night?
Honestly? Just about what we were were afraid would happen:
- The general consensus about the game last night is that the Crunch started out playing like a bunch of strangers...Which, to be fair, they practically are. The Crunch has talent, deep talent, but that talent has been scattered all season between Syracuse and Tampa. This roster, the one the Crunch has right now, hasn’t had any time to gel. Last night hopefully marked the only “growing pains” game the Crunch will have during this series, especially since the first round of the AHL playoffs is five games, not seven.
- There were a few bright spots last night, especially once Syracuse goalie Mike McKenna got comfortable:
Another big glove save by McKenna to keep the Crunch deficit at 2-0 pic.twitter.com/SkKjV7H0ke— Jeremy Houghtaling (@JGHoughtaling) April 22, 2017
- Another bright spot was this false hope goal from perpetual hard-worker Tye McGinn, with assists from Matthew Peca and Brett Howden:
Okay, er, great, I guess. Now, about tonight...
Got’cha covered there, too:
- First, be aware that St. John’s is an hour and a half ahead of EST, so game time is at 6 EST.
- The pre-game radio broadcast with Dan D’Uva will start at 5:45 EST on ESPN Syracuse. You can listen to the game in its entirety for free.
- AHL Live has special playoff pricing deals for every game of the AHL playoffs, as well as team-specific packages. There’s also a pay-per-view option.
- Be sure to follow the team on Twitter for updates if you’re away from other options.
Potential lines, D pairings and scratches:
Crunch head coach Ben Groulx has gotten rid of game day skates this season, making it a bit more difficult to predict lines and pairings. However, I can tell you what things looked like at the start of the game last night, though you’d be wise to expect some different combinations after last night’s result.
Adam Erne-Yanni Gourde-Cory Conacher
Tye McGinn-Matthew Peca- Erik Condra
Michael Bournival-Gabriel Dumont-Joel Vermin
Kevin Lynch-Byron Froese-Brett Howden
Mathieu Brodeur-Ben Thomas
Slater Koekkoek-Jake Dotchin
Matt Taormina-Dominik Masin
Racine Racine, Dylan Blujus, John Kurtz, Dennis Yan (didn’t travel with the team), Libor Hajek (didn’t travel with the team), Mike Halmo, Adam Comrie (didn’t travel with the team), Henri Ikonen (didn’t travel with the team), Tanner Richard, Daniel Walcott (didn’t travel with the team) and Connor Ingram.