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Crunch Wrap: At least they got one game in last week

Syracuse continues to see their schedule tweaked

Scott Thomas Photography

The Syracuse Crunch have played just five games so far this month and just one since December 11th. They had two more games rescheduled last week as two teams from Canada (Belleville and Laval) didn’t make the trip across the border. This is the second weekend of the season where they’ve seen their schedule washed away by postponements and prevented them from building on their victory on Wednesday against Toronto.

If there is a silver lining in the delays, it’s that it allows the Tampa Bay Lightning’s affiliate a chance to return to health. They’ve also had some practice time to work on ailing parts of their game. Due to the Christmas holiday, they have just one game this week (Wednesday against Providence. After that, they are supposed to head up to Canada to take on the two teams that they were supposed to play last weekend, Belleville and Laval. For now those games are on the schedule, but as with everything this season, nothing is for certain until the puck is dropped.

The win against Toronto was the best game they’ve played this months as they jumped out to a two-goal lead thanks to Remi Elie and Shawn Element, scored an important third goal after the Marlies had cut the lead in half, and then iced the game in the third as Elie recorded his second goal of the night.

One of the nice things about the victory is that they were able to do it without relying on offense from their two big guns, Gabriel Dumont and Charles Hudon. Secondary scoring has been an issue for them at times, heck scoring in general has been an issue, so to get goals from Elie, Element, and Cole Koepke is a good sign moving forward. Andrej Sustr picked up two assists, giving him seven points in twelve games on the season.

Having Alex Barre-Boulet back in Syracuse gives Ben Groulx a few more options on offense as well as a dangerous option on the power play. Plus he’s motivated to show the Lightning they made a mistake in sending him down.

With the reassignment of Fredrik Claesson from Tampa this weekend, the defense is finally what Coach Groulx was expecting to have at the beginning of the season. With Darren Raddysh, Sustr, Claesson, and Sean Day as their top four it’s a pretty solid unit. Ryan Jones has been solid, as has been Alex Green.

Update: according to the AHL website, Claesson is currently suspended by the organization. According to the Lightning, the defenseman was suspended for “breach of contractual obligations”. No further information was provided.

This is usually the time of season the Crunch start putting it together and make a run. They’ve dug a pretty deep hole as they’re 19 points behind the Utica Comets, who came out of the games with a ridiculous 18-1-2-0 record. However, with the extra playoff slot this season (the top five teams from the North Division qualify) they are only three points out of a spot (technically .72% points percentage, but we’re far enough out that it’s easier to track by actual points).

Transactions:

Additions:

Hugo Alnefelt (G) - after a brief stay in Orlando, Alnefelt was called back up to Syracuse when Max Lagace was a little banged up on December 10th against the Checkers. Legace did play the entire game against the Marlies (with Miftakhov as the listed back-up) so Alnefelt might be on his way back to Orlando soon.

Subtractions:

Patrick Watling (F) - He picked up two assists in the two games he played for the Crunch, but with Remi Elie back in the line-up Watling was released from his PTO.

Highlights

Win the net-front battles and good things happen. Elie with the tip

Shawn Element should have more than two goals on the season. Another nice deflection from in front

Nice job by Otto Somppi to create the turnover and Cole Koepke finished it

Remi Elie on the power play

Upcoming Schedule

Wednesday December 22nd vs. Providence Bruins, 7:00 PM

The Bruins are 11-7-3-1 on the season and in third place in the Atlantic Division. They had a three-game winning streak stopped on Friday as they lost to Laval 6-3. Their scheduled game on Saturday against Belleville was postponed so they’ll be well rested for the Crunch. They are also getting some reinforcements in the line-up. With the Boston Bruins on a COVID pause until December 26th, they reassigned Jesper Froden, Kyle Keyser, and Jack Studnicka to Providence.

After that, the Crunch are off until the 28th.