After playing just four games in the month of December, it looks like the Syracuse Crunch may actually take the ice again at some point this week. They are scheduled to return to action on Wednesday in Rochester before returning to Syracuse to play Hershey and the Americans over the weekend. The postponements have led to a bit of a schedule disruption:
The past several weeks have really made the AHL schedule an adventure.— PATRICK WILLIAMS (@pwilliamsAHL) January 3, 2022
Bridgeport has 40 games remaining while Syracuse has 55 to go (the Crunch have only played four games since Nov. 27).#AHL
Syracuse isn’t the only team that has seen a large chunk of their season pushed back into the new year. In order to help teams reschedule the postponed games the AHL has extended the regular season by six days. Unlike the NHL, they didn’t have the luxury of a cancelled Olympic break to fill in missing dates. With gate revenue so important to this league, allowing teams some extra days to add the games back makes sense.
While they would most likely rather be playing the games, the unexpected pause did give the team a chance to reset their season a bit. The four games they did get in last month were quite a mixed bag as they went 2-2 with wins against Charlotte and Toronto while losing to the Checkers and Cleveland. They did find their offense a little as they scored 15 goals in those four games, but thanks to an 8-spot put up by the Monsters their goals against was an ugly 4.5 per game.
The break was also fairly well timed in the sense the Tampa Bay Lightning were able to pull some players from the squad to fill in the holes on the NHL team while they dealt with COVID protocols. The Crunch are getting Hugo Alnefelt, Sean Day, and Remi Elie back as those three were reassigned over the weekend. There is the probability that Max Lagace will stick around on the Lightning’s taxi squad even though Andrei Vasilevskiy and Brian Elliott are back in the line-up for Tampa Bay. For now Alex Barre-Boulet and Andrej Sustr join Lagace on the taxi squad while Darren Raddysh is still on the roster as an emergency load with Zach Bogosian dealing with a lower-body injury.
So, should the Crunch return to action on Wednesday, they would have a few holes remaining in the line-up, but for the most part be in better shape than had they had to play last week. They have two goaltenders in Alnefelt and Amir Miftakhov so Jimmy Poreda, who was signed to a PTO just after Christmas, was let go.
With Raddysh and Sustr still off the roster the defense still has a bit of a patch-work quality to it, but the Crunch have been dealing with that all season. Losing Barre-Boulet, who had four points in those four December games, is a bit of a blow to the offense, but they should have plenty of healthy bodies to fill in the gaps, and will get a boost in the middle of the month when Gabriel Fortier returns (should Nikita Kucherov come back as planned).
The Crunch have plenty of ground to make up so they will need every point they can get out of the remaining 55 games. Hopefully, they can start banking those points on Wednesday.