clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Crunch Corner: Do You Want to be a Goalie?

New, comment

It seems everyone is getting a shot to stop pucks for the Crunch except for Connor Ingram

Scott Thomas Photography

Three more games off of the schedule and the Syracuse Crunch are still on top of the North Division standings. They only won one game, but did pick up a point in another so the lead over Rochester has been trimmed to just one point, and they enter an important week with an edge. Unfortunately, they also enter the week with a two goalies who have a combined AHL experience of two games. So it could be an interesting week.

Standings

Coming and Going

The goalie carousel continues in Syracuse. With the injury to Louis Domingue in Tampa, Eddie Pasquale was recalled to the Lightning. So that means Connor Ingram is finally back, right? Nope. The Crunch went with one of the other Orlando goaltenders and signed Corbin Boes to a PTO. Boes is in his first professional season and played 24 games with the Solar Bears notching a 3.61 GAA and .893 Save Percentage.

Injuries

Another healthy week for the Crunch. Ben Thomas returned to a defense that had been stretched a little thin with call ups. His return helped ease the loss of Jan Rutta and gave the blueline a little more experience.

The Games

Wednesday March 27th at Belleville: 2-1 (SO) Loss (Recap) (Box Score) (Highlights)

Friday March 29th vs Providence: 3-2 Loss (Recap) (Box Score) (Highlights)

Saturday March 30th vs Utica: 6-2 Win (Recap) (Box Score) (Highlights)

Thoughts

Goaltending

Look, it’s obvious at this point that whatever happened between the organization and Connor Ingram is at the point that he’s most likely not going to suit up for them again this season. With two games looming against Rochester and the division on the line, hopefully whatever has sidelined Louis Domingue won’t last long and Eddie Pasquale will be back in time for the weekend.

The fact that three of the Crunch’s top defenders are also in Tampa isn’t helping anything. Cameron Gaunce is most likely going to be back soon, but Jan Rutta has played well enough in his limited time that the Lightning might keep him there through the playoffs. Erik Cernak isn’t coming back.

So that means it’s going to take an entire team effort on defense to keep pucks out of the net. For the most part, the Crunch have excelled at that this season. While the goaltenders have done their job, the defense has also supported them with a ton of blocked shots and quick clears of loose pucks.

As a team, they’ve also worked much better than last year at getting the puck out of the zone when they have control of it. That means the forwards staying back to offer passing options. It also means the defensemen making the right reads. Dominik Masin and Cal Foote have lead the way, but the other defenders have done their job as well, limiting the mistakes and turnovers.

Can the Crunch win the North Division and home ice in the first two rounds with Atte Tolvanen and Corbin Boes in goal for the biggest week of the season? If they play as a team, yes they can.

Coach Ben Groulx

Crunch fans have to realize that Coach Goulx’s time with Syracuse is most likely drawing to a close. With Jon Cooper signing a six-year extension to stay in Tampa, that route is most likely blocked as well. There is a chance that Cooper could bring him up as an assistant coach, but would he be open to that?

What avenues may be open to him? A lot of the teams that are struggling this year may be in line for a new leader. If Ken Hitchcock decides it isn’t worth the stress to stay in Edmonton, could Groulx be the answer to getting the Oilers back in the playoffs? He has proven that he is excellent with young players and with the way the Edmonton payroll is set up, there will be plenty of holes filled by younger talent.

Buffalo could be another option. Phil Housley was an inspired pick a few seasons ago, but it doesn’t seem like he’s getting the best results out of that roster. Groulx could be the answer ownership is looking for when it comes to getting Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin to the next level.

Seattle could be an option as well (especially if Steve Yzerman decides to head for the west coast).

Players of the Week

Carter Verhaeghe - 3 games, 1 goal, 4 assists - Verhaeghe found his scoring touch against Utica. After a four game stretch without a point, he posted his first multi-game scoring streak since early March. Woe to other teams if he’s heating back up. With six games to go, he is tied with Jeremy Bracco atop the league in scoring and has a more than fair chance of winning the points title.

Dominik Masin - 3 games, 0 goals, 1 assist - This is where I wish there were more stats available for the AHL. In the absence of two of their top players, Masin stepped up and logged a ton of minutes. Despite all of the ice, time he only took two penalties, fired two shots on net and was a +2 (I know, I know, but in lieu of actual stats we work with what we got).

Upcoming Games

It’s a big week for the Crunch as two of their three games are against the Americans. If Syracuse manages to sweep the home-and-home, it can put a serious distance between the two teams with only one week to go in the regular season. That doesn’t mean they can overlook the Senators on Wednesday. Belleville currently occupies the 4th spot in the North, but enters the week only one point up on Cleveland and. Much like last week, they will be desperate for as many points as they can possibly acquire.

Wednesday April 3rd, 7:00 p.m. at Belleville

Friday April 5th, 7:05 p.m. at Rochester

Saturday April 6th, 7:00 p.m. vs Rochester