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Crunch Preview: Syracuse hosts Toronto in what should be a high-scoring affair

The Marlies have trouble keeping it out of the net. The Crunch like to score. What more could you want?

Scott Thomas Photography

The Syracuse Crunch (21-9-2-0) conclude their brief two-game home stand as they host the Toronto Marlies (16-13-3-2) on Saturday night. The Crunch are looking to start up another points streak as they are coming off of a win against Bridgeport, while the Marlies are looking to make it three in a row following their recent victories against Charlotte and Binghamton.

After scoring only five goals in their previous four games prior to their winning streak, the Marlies put up a five-spot against both the Checkers and Devils. It could be an entertaining match-up as the Marlies enter the game with the seventh most goals in the AHL, while the Crunch currently sit second behind just the Chicago Wolves (the Wolves have played four more games than the Crunch).

Goaltending continues to be a bit of a mystery for the Marlies, as they have had five different players suit up in goal this season. After a 19-save performance against Binghamton on Friday night, Kasimir Kaskisuo was once again recalled to the Maple Leafs. As of right now the goaltending tandem consists of Michael Garteig (9 career AHL games) and Eamon McAdam (51 career AHL games). Not exactly a veteran pair of netminders.

While the Marlies have been just fine at scoring goals for most of the season, they haven’t been quite as adept as keeping them out of the net. While they’ve had some injuries on defense - highly-touted prospect Timothy Liljegren (ankle) and Andreas Borgman (concussion) - it pretty much comes down to goaltending (or lack thereof). Per Hardev (who covers Toronto on a regular basis), the Marlies are constantly generating more shot attempts than their opponents, so they’re driving puck possession, they just can’t get a save when they need it.

So for now the Marlies will just try to outscore their problems, and leading the way is Chris Mueller who has 36 points (18 goals, 18 assists). The center has five goals during his current three-game point streak. Winger Jeremy Bracco is second on the team in scoring and has picked up four assists in the last two games.

This could be quite a favorable match-up for the Crunch who are looking to get their offense back in gear after being held under their league-leading average of four goals per game in their last two outings. The last time these two teams met, Syracuse beat them 8-1 behind two-goal performances by Alex Barre-Boulet and Andy Andreoff.

Eddie Pasquale has faced Toronto in both of their meetings so far this season and will most likely be in net for the Crunch again on Saturday night. It’s the seventh straight start for the veteran as he continues to fill the void left by Connor Ingram’s injury. Coach Ben Groulx has decided to ride the hot hand instead of giving Martin Ouellette a chance to make his Syracuse Crunch debut. Perhaps he’ll get a shot next week against Binghamton.

Previous Games:

The Crunch defeated the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 3-1 behind goals from Alex Barre-Boulet, Alex Volkov, and Carter Verhaeghe. Pasquale stopped 19 of 20 shots to pick up his 12th win of the season.

Toronto scored five unanswered goals after giving up a first period goal to Binghamton. Michael Carcone and Chris Mueller had two goals, while Adam Brooks had a goal and an assist. Kasimir Kaskisuo picked up the win before being recalled by the Maple Leafs.

Possible Lines:

Forwards:

Alex Volkov - Andy Andreoff - Cory Conacher

Carter Verhaeghe - Gabriel Dumont - Taylor Raddysh

Boris Katchouk - Ros Colton - Alex Barre-Boulet

Brady Brassart - Otto Somppi

Defensemen:

Cameron Gaunce - Cal Foote

Slater Koekkoek - Dominik Masin

Hubert Labrie - Ben Thomas

Nolan Valleau

Goaltender:

Eddie Pasquale

Notes: Coach Groulx rolled out the 11/7 rotation for the third game in a row as he continues to get Slater Koekkoek his conditioning. It will be interesting to see if he keeps the rotation going or if he goes back to the 12/6 once Koekkoek is back in Tampa. Brady Brassart returned to the line-up after his injury, which left Dennis Yan and Troy Bourke the healthy scratches. Expect to see a rotation between those three and Otto Somppi throughout the rest of the season as Coach Groulx tries to keep everyone engaged.