Syracuse Crunch vs. Grand Rapids Griffins preview: AHL Calder Cup Final Game 1

The writer tries desperately to keep it together while writing.

The bottom line: Syracuse Crunch vs. Grand Rapids Griffins, game 1

There’s a lot of narratives that could go with this series. Many of them will be retreads from 2013, which was the year the Crunch and the Griffins met for the first time in the Calder Cup Final. Hell, that narrative right there - rematch? revenge? - is a juicy one alone.

I’m not going to focus on any of that. Both teams are very different now. Both teams have new head coaches behind the bench. Both teams have taken different paths to get to this point, not only different from each other but different from the paths they took in 2013.

Instead, this is all I’m going to say:

The Crunch have been in the league for 23 seasons. The front office has hosted the All-Star game twice, put on the first AHL outdoor game in league history, made attendance history with a huge game at the Carrier Dome, and have become fairly synonymous with creative, outside-the-box marketing. Their players, especially the ones associated with the Tampa Bay Lightning, are arguably some of the most prepared out there to make the jump from the AHL to the NHL.

In the past five years alone, Syracuse has earned two division championships, two conference championships, and two trips to the final round.

The franchise has done a lot to earn those things.

Very little in this league is given just because it’s deserved. Championships aren’t given because they’re deserved. Championships are earned. End of story.

That’s what this current group of players are charged with: earning that championship.

So, go out and do it, guys. This city is behind you. We believe.

Pre-game reading, listening, and viewing:

Game night essentials:

  • The pre-game radio broadcast with Dan D’Uva will start at 6:45 EST on ESPN Syracuse. You can stream the game in its entirety for free.
  • If you’re local to the Syracuse area and want to visit Taste of Syracuse and listen to the game, you’re in luck:/
  • You’re also in luck if you’re local to Syracuse and want to go to a watch party:/
  • Puck drop is at 7:00 ET in Grand Rapids.
  • AHL Live has an amazing special deal this round: watch for free!/
  • Full media information can be found here: /

Team Comparison Chart

Loserpoints’ note:

The charts above are based on the regular season and as we noted prior to the last series, the Crunch were a good 5v5 team but not as good on special teams. And their main weakness this season was goaltending. Strong 5v5 play is a good sign for the playoffs because the officials tend to call less penalties.

If that holds true, this should be a close series between two evenly matched teams. The key for Syracuse is likely to be goaltending. Their depth of forward talent overwhelmed Toronto in the last round and the Griffins will struggle to deal with it as well. So if McKenna can hold up in the net, Syracuse should have a good chance in this series.

Potential lines and pairings for Syracuse:

Starting netminder:

Mike McKenna

Potential lines:

Michael Bournival - Yanni Gourde - Cory Conacher

Adam Erne - Gabriel Dumont - Joel Vermin

Tye McGinn - Matthew Peca - Erik Condra

Kevin Lynch - Byron Froese - Mitchell Stephens

Potential defensive pairings:

Matt Taormina - Dominik Masin

Slater Koekkoek - Ben Thomas

Jake Dotchin  - Mathieu Brodeur

Injury updates/news:

-Daniel Walcott was hurt during round 3’s game 2. He has not played since. He is currently listed as day-to-day.

Potential lines and pairings for Grand Rapids:

Starting netminder:

Jared Coreau

Potential lines:

Tyler Bertuzzi - Tomas Nosek - Martin Frk

Eric Tangradi - Ben Street - Mitch Callahan

Evgeny Svechnikov - Kyle Criscuolo - Matt Lorito

Matthew Ford -  Dominic Turgeon - Colin Campbell

Potential defensive pairings:

Brian Lashoff - Robbie Russo

Nathan Paetsch - Joe Hicketts

Dan Renouf - Dylan McIlrath