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Crunch Wrap: A Lapse in Laval

The Crunch’s trip north of the border was less than productive

It was a rough week for the Syracuse Crunch as they dropped all three games during their trip to Laval. They did manage to pick up a point in the overtime loss on Friday, but overall their mistakes outweighed any positive play that they had on the ice.

For Coach Ben Groulx, a lack of high-intensity practices during the week are starting to show the cracks in the Crunch’s game. His mantra all season long is that they aren’t the most talented team and need to outwork the other team to have a chance to win. That was apparent throughout the week as Laval just seemed to be the better team.

They are now 3-6-1 in their last 10 games and sitting in 6th place in the North Division. The good news is that they have most of this week off (no games until Friday) so Coach Groulx can get this team back to the basics. It helps that he pretty much his full squad back, except for his goaltenders.

Oddly enough, this was the first week where he was able to start the same six defensemen (Alex Green, Sean Day, Andrej Sustr, Fredrik Claesson, Frank Hora, and Ryan Jones) in all three games, so there is some stability there. With Darren Raddysh coming back to the Crunch this week, Hora or Jones will probably sit and the blueline should be nice and stable for the near future.

The defense isn’t necessarily the problem (13 goals surrendered this week notwithstanding), they need to find a way to start scoring more. “We don’t score enough,” Coach Groulx told Lukas Favale prior to the game on Friday. He’s looking for them to play better in front of the net and have a more consistent mindset from game-to-game. Converting the second and third chances is how they’re going to turn this season around.

Coming and Going:

Additions:

Tye Felhaber (F) - After a brief (and productive) stop in Orlando, the newly acquired Felhaber was called up to Syracuse on Thursday but didn’t make it into any games this weekend. Maybe this week.

Darren Raddysh (D) - After a couple of games with the Tampa Bay Lightning subbing for the injured Erik Cernak, Raddysh was loaned back to Syracuse on Saturday where he should settle into the leadership role he was brought in for.

Subtractions:

Max Cajkovic (F) - It seemed like Cajkovic was turning the tide of the season in mid-January, but has been out of the line-up for the last few games. A move to Orlando should give him plenty of playing time and a chance to work his way back up to Syracuse.

The Games

Wednesday February 9th

Laval 6, Syracuse 2

After surrendering two goals to Cameron Hills in the first period, Amir Miftakhov didn’t come out for the second period. While the defense in front of him limited the shots he faced, Corbin Kaczperski allowed three goals on fourteen shots (Gabriel Borque scored on the empty net) as the Crunch saw their winning streak come to disheartening end.

Anthony Ricard picked up a picked up his first goal as a member of the Crunch, cutting the Laval lead to just 2 with plenty of time left in the third. Laval limited their chances in the final frame, holding them to just seven shots and Borque’s empty netter with four minutes to go sealed the deal.

“I thought our group of defensemen weren’t good. I thought our group of forwards weren’t good. I thought our goaltenders weren’t good.” Coach Groulx was pretty honest with his assessment of their performance.

Gabriel Dumont (Anthony Richard, Andrej Sustr)

Anthony Richard (Cole Koepke)

Friday February 11th

Laval 2, Syracuse 1 (OT)

The good news is that the Crunch led for most of the game. Gabe Dumont scored late in the first period and they held that lead into the third period. With just five minutes to go, Brandon Baddock tied it and then Jean-Sebastien Dea won it in overtime.

It was a nice bounce back game defensively for the Crunch after the game on Wednesday. Amir Miftakhov was back in net and stopped 25 of 27. It was another game where the Crunch generated chances, but couldn’t finish them off. Coach Groulx estimated they had 7 to 8 chances at least that they failed to convert.

Gabriel Dumont (Andrej Sustr, Fredrik Claesson)

Saturday February 12th

Laval 5, Syracuse 1

When you outshoot your opponent 16-6 in the first period, you don’t expect to trail 2-0 at the end of it. Yet, that’s where the Crunch found themselves on Saturday night. Laval added two more in the second period and the game was pretty much over by the time Charles Hudon spoiled Kevin Poulin’s bid for a shutout midway through the third period.

Charles Hudon (Gabriel Fortier)

Upcoming Games:

The Crunch have a few days off before playing four games in five days starting on Friday. With their roster back at full strength (except for the goaltenders) it’ll be a good week of practice for Syracuse before they kick things off with a couple of home games.

Friday February 18th - vs. Laval Rocket, 7:00 PM EST

Saturday February 19th - vs. Rochester Americans, 7:00 PM EST