Hey there! I’m excited to share with you this week’s Syracuse Crunch Weekly Wrap. The team had quite the unpredictable week, showcasing their “Jekyll and Hyde” tendencies. From a thrilling overtime win to a disappointing shutout loss, the Crunch kept us on the edge of our seats. Join me as we dive into the highs and lows of the team’s performance, and how they fared in their matchups against the Cleveland Monsters and Rochester Americans. Let’s get started!
The Syracuse Crunch have had an interesting start to their 2021-2022 AHL season. Thus far, they have experienced a mix of both good and bad performances, leading some to label them as a “Jekyll and Hyde” team. In this weekly wrap, we’ll take a look at some of the highs and lows of the Crunch’s season so far.
One of the biggest highlights of the Crunch’s season has been their impressive offensive output. Through their first six games, the team has scored a total of 23 goals, an average of just under four goals per game. This is an impressive feat considering the team lost some key goalscorers to promotion or graduation last season.
One player who has been particularly impressive on the offensive side of the puck is forward Boris Katchouk. Katchouk, a 2016 second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, has been one of the AHL’s best players in the early going. Through six games, Katchouk has recorded six goals, tying him for the league lead. Additionally, he has added two assists for a total of eight points, placing him in the top 10 in league scoring.
The Crunch have also received solid contributions from other offensive players, including Otto Somppi and Taylor Raddysh. Somppi has tallied four goals and three assists, while Raddysh has recorded three goals and three assists.
At the other end of the ice, the Crunch have been anchored by strong goaltending from veteran netminder Spencer Martin. Martin, who signed with the Lightning as a free agent in the offseason, has been between the pipes for all six of the Crunch’s games, posting a 4-1-0 record with a 2.60 goals against average and a .914 save percentage.
Unfortunately, the Crunch’s strong offensive output has not always been enough to secure wins. The team has been plagued by some defensive issues, particularly in their own end. Through six games, the Crunch have allowed a total of 21 goals, an average of 3.5 goals against per game. This has resulted in a couple of heartbreaking losses, including a 6-5 overtime defeat against Cleveland and a 7-6 shootout loss against Utica.
Part of the defensive struggles may stem from personnel changes on the blue line. The Crunch lost several key defensemen from last season’s roster, including captain Luke Witkowski and veteran Cameron Gaunce. This has left the team lean on experience, particularly with the absence of Cal Foote who is currently on recall to the Lightning.
The Crunch have also struggled in specialty teams play. Their penalty kill unit has been particularly vulnerable, allowing opponents to score on 11 of 26 power play opportunities so far, placing the team in the bottom third of the league rankings in this category.
As the Crunch move forward into the remainder of their season, there are reasons for optimism. The team has shown the ability to score goals in bunches, and their goaltending has been solid. It is also reasonable to expect improvement on the defensive side of the puck as the young players on the blue line continue to gain experience.
The Crunch will also receive a boost from the addition of some key personnel. Defenseman Sean Day, who joined the team on loan from the Coventry Blaze of the Elite Ice Hockey League, has shown promise in his first few games. Additionally, the return of Cal Foote to the Crunch’s lineup will provide a boost to the team’s blue line.
Another positive sign for the Crunch is the return of some familiar faces to the roster. Veteran forward Danick Martel recently rejoined the team, adding some experience and scoring touch to the forward ranks. Defenseman Brady Keeper, who played for the Crunch during the 2019-2020 season, has also returned to the team on an AHL contract.
In summary, the Syracuse Crunch have had a mixed start to their 2021-2022 AHL season. While the team has shown the ability to score goals in bunches, they have also struggled defensively and on the penalty kill. There are reasons for optimism, however, as the team’s young players gain experience and some key personnel return to the roster.
The question for the Syracuse Crunch is whether they can maintain a consistent level of play throughout the remainder of the season. If they can find a way to tighten up their defensive play and improve specialty teams, the team has the potential to be a force in the AHL’s North Division. Only time will tell if the Crunch can rise to that challenge.