Keys down the stretch for Syracuse Crunch
With the North Division still as tight as can be, there is little room for error for anybody.
All things considered, it was a solid week for the Syracuse Crunch, who took four out of a possible six points from division rivals. With Tampa doing just enough to stay alive in the playoff push, Syracuse is still patiently awaiting reinforcements to ensure a playoff berth and a successful run toward the Calder Cup. In the meantime, here are three keys for Syracuse heading down the home stretch.
Consistency between the pipes
The shakeup at the deadline that sent Crunch starting goaltender Adam Wilcox to the Springfield Thunderbirds in return for veteran keeper Mike McKenna was executed in hopes of stabilizing the Syracuse goal-crease, but it has done just the opposite. A proven winner everywhere he has suited up, the 33-year-old St. Louis, Missouri, native has gotten off to a shaky start in the organization, posting a record of three wins and four losses with a goals-against-average south of .90%. He has been better of late, but with a shaky blue-line presence in front of him, he and Kristers Gudlevskis are going to have to be rock solid in the ‘Cuse net.
Secondary scoring is needed
There have been a handful of names on the Crunch roster that have consistently produced for virtually the entire season. Yanni Gourde, Cory Conacher, Byron Froese, and Matt Taormina bring the offense when it counts, but as we have seen all year long, when they aren’t scoring, it can spell trouble. The good news is that Tanner Richard and Michael Bournival are both back after suffering long-term injuries and are already finding the score-sheet. In addition, the Bolts are hanging on to their playoff hopes by the thinnest of threads at the moment so impact players like Jake Dotchin, Gabriel Dumont, Joel Vermin, and Adam Erne are locks to get reassigned to the salt city to take some of the scoring load off.
Leaders must lead
As long as the Crunch have been in town they have consistently iced chippy blue-collar teams that have a tendency to find the penalty box more often than not. At this point of the season however, discipline is key. The Crunch currently sit comfortably atop the league leaders in total penalty minutes on the season with 1,266. The team has 116 more penalty minutes than the second place Milwaukee Admirals. The good news is the Crunch have a fairly solid penalty kill that currently sits at tenth in the league with 83.1% efficiency. Still, a team that has lacked any real leadership for the majority of the season has a new captain in Erik Condra that needs to be ready to set an example and hold people accountable.