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Syracuse Crunch vs. Grand Rapids Griffins preview: AHL Calder Cup Final Game 4

The Syracuse Crunch has the chance to even the series to 2-2 tonight. No anxiety. They got this.

Scott Thomas

The bottom line: Syracuse Crunch vs. Grand Rapids Griffins, game 4

The Crunch got some of their mojo back this past Wednesday, and it couldn’t have come at a more crucial time. After falling into a 0-2 series deficit last weekend in Grand Rapids, Syracuse made the most of their home ice and stunned the Griffins in game 3.

Their victory cut their series deficit to 1-2. The Crunch look to tie the Calder Cup finals up tonight, and they’re expected to do it in front of a sold out crowd.

One cannot overstate what tying this series up could do for the Crunch’s chances. Although they’re currently fighting the tide of AHL history - teams that have gone up 2-0 in the finals have gone on to win more than 70% of the time - they’re also making some history of their own in the process of their fight to stay alive:

Sticking to the team’s game plan is going to be crucial tonight. The Crunch did a fabulous job Wednesday night: they scored first, never fell behind, and had strong responses to every time Grand Rapids attempted to come back. Their penalty kill was on point, their power play was effective, and their 5-on-5 play got more focused and controlled as the game went on. Their game wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t need to be, and drawing on those positives will be essential tonight:

Syracuse can expect as strong pushback from the Griffins as they try to blow this series open to a 3-1 lead. The Crunch needs to continue to grow on the momentum they gained Wednesday and use their hometown crowd to elevate them to another home victory:

There’s no doubt in my mind that they can #FIN15H this.

Pre-game reading, listening, and viewing:

  • Brent Axe chimed in with his own first-hand account of the third game of the finals.
  • On the Griffins side of things, Pete Wallner weighed the toughness of playing in the Onondaga County War Memorial against the damage Grand Rapids did to their own game through their special teams.
  • Crunch defenseman Matt Taormina and goalie Mike McKenna got together with Brent Axe and a bunch of fans on Facebook to answer some questions.
  • A comforting tweet:
  • In the mood to party before the game on a Friday? You’re in luck:

Game night essentials:

  • The pre-game radio broadcast with Dan D’Uva will start at 6:45 EST on ESPN Syracuse. You can stream the game in its entirety for free.
  • Puck drop is at 7:00 ET in Grand Rapids.
  • AHL Live has an amazing special deal this round: watch for free!

Potential lines and pairings for Syracuse:

Starting netminder:

Mike McKenna

Potential lines:

Tye McGinn - Yanni Gourde - Cory Conacher

Michael Bournival - Matthew Peca - Byron Froese

Adam Erne - Gabriel Dumont - Joel Vermin

Daniel Walcott - Anthony Cirelli - Kevin Lynch

Potential defensive pairings:

Matt Taormina - Dominik Masin

Slater Koekkoek - Ben Thomas

Jake Dotchin - Mathieu Brodeur

Injury updates/news:

-Daniel Walcott returned to the line up Wednesday. He was hurt during the third round.

-Crunch captain Erik Condra is listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury. He did not play Wednesday:

Condra’s status is unknown for tonight’s game.

Potential lines and pairings for Grand Rapids:

Starting netminder:

Jared Coreau

Potential lines:

Tyler Bertuzzi - Tomas Nosek - Martin Frk

Eric Tangradi - Ben Street - Mitch Callahan

Evgeny Svechnikov - Kyle Criscuolo - Matt Lorito

Matthew Ford - Dominic Turgeon - Colin Campbell

Potential defensive pairings:

Brian Lashoff - Robbie Russo

Nathan Paetsch - Joe Hicketts

Dan Renouf - Dylan McIlrath