AHL North Division semifinals game 2: Syracuse Crunch vs. Rochester Americans

The Crunch looks to extend their series lead to 2-0 tonight before the games shift to Rochester on Wednesday.

The down and dirty

The Syracuse Crunch are looking to extend their series lead over the Rochester Americans to 2-0 tonight. The North Division semifinals, a best-of-three affair, will shift to Rochester Wednesday night. There’s nothing the Crunch would like better than a chance to close this out mid-week with a sweep and have a nice rest before the second round.  Given that, Syracuse should be hungry for a victory tonight. On the other side of things, there’s nothing Rochester wants less than to take this series back to their own barn down 2-0, so it’s easy to assume they’ll be pushing hard to avoid that fate.

As Crunch head coach Ben Groulx has been stressing all along, the team needs to take it one game at a time. Although the Crunch won rather convincingly Friday with a 6-2 final, it wouldn’t be wise for the players to let too much from that game frame their thinking about tonight.

No one knows better than the Crunch how late-season additions from a parent club can take a playoff game or two to settle in. Last season, Syracuse was bolstered by a potent group of guys from the Lightning who arrived just in time for the playoffs. The Crunch was, to be gentle, in a bit of a disarray at the start of the post season. The players eventually found their rhythm together, and the Crunch turned those early, scattered games into their second finals appearance in five seasons. Rochester received quite a few players back from the Buffalo Sabres at the end of the season, and might just be going through the same adjustments Syracuse needed last spring.

The Crunch certainly doesn’t want to underestimate this team, and doesn’t want to give them any chance to find their groove together.

What you may have missed

How to follow the Crunch tonight

  • The pre-game radio broadcast with Lukas Favale will start at 6:45 EST on ESPN Syracuse. You can listen to the game in its entirety for free.
  • AHL Live has special playoff pricing deals for every game of the AHL playoffs, as well as team-specific packages. There’s also a pay-per-view option.
  • Be sure to follow the team on Twitter and Instagram for updates if you’re away from other options.
  • Look for pre-and-post-game interviews on the Crunch’s YouTube./

Other game information

Any injury concerns Crunch fans had were assuaged Friday night as the Crunch iced a roster that was about as complete as it’s going to be. Gabriel Dumont, who was perhaps one of the larger concerns going into the evening, not only played but also skated one of the best games of his career with Syracuse. By the end of the night, the veteran forward had netted himself his first playoff hat trick.

Olivier Archambault and Jamie McBain, who scored a goal in the first, also played well and seemed to be skating without issues.

Given their performance in game one, Syracuse probably won’t make any changes tonight to their roster. Everyone played their part, even the newer players. In fact, newcomer Brendan Bradly got his first AHL goal Friday night. Bradly, who was signed a professional tryout contract last week, has a game that seems to fit in well with the speedy Crunch.

Rochester might make some changes, with potentially the biggest one coming in net. Linus Ullmark, who let in five goals on Syracuse’s 34 shots, could be sat in exchange for former Crunch netminder Adam Wilcox. Wilcox was traded by the Lightning at the 2017 NHL trade deadline for Mike McKenna, and signed with the Sabres organization this past summer.  As with all players who have the chance to face the team that traded them in the playoffs, Wilcox would relish being one of the players behind knotting this series at one apiece.