Hopefully this will spark a bit of dialect between posters regarding the Syracuse Crunch, the AHL, and even the Tampa Bay Lightning in general.
These are some of my postings from games I have watched, imported in from elsewhere....please, feel free to join in with thoughts and commentary, as well as educate me on the doings of the AHL (I am still new to them), and the Crunch in general.....
The Crunch currently sit atop the East Division and are very much looking like the team that won the Calder Cup last season (known then as the Norfolk Admirals), and doing it with a mixture of skill, defense, and nastiness.
With the premium the Tampa Bay Lightning put on skill players over goons, this is a bit surprising.
Then again, those AHL 'goons' the Crunch have can also play the game.
Which is a good thing, because if there is one area where the parent Lightning club could use some improvement, other than the lackluster defense and goaltending, it would be in the toughness department.
Hopefully, some of these guys are truly skilled enough to get a shot at the NHL at some point.
Syracuse currently leads the entire Eastern Conference in PIMs and are second only to the Western Conference's Rockford Icehogs (Chicago Blackhawks farm team)
But back to the Crunch, they played tonight against the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Montreal Canadiens minor league club, and shut them out 3-0.
Scoring for Syracuse were Richard Panik, JT Wyman, and Dmitry Korobov.
Of that trio, only JT Wyman saw regular action for the Lightning last season, and given the amount of skill TB has on their front lines, breaking away from the AHL as a forward for them will be a tough task indeed.
Radko Gudas, a defenseman, got an assist in the game.
I mention him because he is another guy I'd like Tampa Bay to give a look-see on their blue line once the NHL resumes games once again.
He isn't overly big for a D-man, but he plays VERY physical, and I understand has a very underrated game as far as his defense and outlet passing.
Good win v.s. the Bulldogs..
Up next, a rematch on Friday, but this time playing Hamilton at the Bell Centre in Montreal...
The Crunch made it two in a row over the Bulldogs and did it in convincing fashion.
4-1 was the final, however, that didn't tell the entire story as Syracuse basically beat and beat UP the Bulldogs in every way imaginable on the ice.
The Crunch defense kept the Bulldogs to a measly 14 shots on goal for the entire game, and it was only on a defensive breakdown that Hamilton was able to get their lone goal past Crunch goalie Dustin Tokarski.
Starring for Syracuse were forwards Tyler Johnson (scored twice), Mike Angelidis, who not only scored but played a fierce checking game as well, Richard Panik who picked up two assists, Radko Gudas (2 assists and got into a scrap with big Jared Tinordi of the Bulldogs), and Jean-Phillipe Cote, who didn't show up on the scoresheet, but did put a booming hit early in the game on Hamilton's Blake Geoffrion that pretty much set the tone of the game.
Geoffrion, unfortunately, was removed from the game, and had to have surgery due to the vicious (though legal) hit put on him.
Wishing Geoffrion well...never like to see players have their careers jeopardized.
Much was made about the Crunch and Bulldog players being in awe at the prospect of playing in an NHL arena such as the Canadiens' Bell Centre, but if they were, they didn't show it a whole lot....particularly the Syracuse players who played the game in front of 18, 000+ like it was just another day at the office.
Then again, to be fair, many of Syracuse's players saw time with their parent TB Lightning club, so the awe factor of playing in Montreal was at a minimum
Very nice game for the Crunch, and they continue to play like the defending Calder Cup champions (remember, they were the Norfolk Admirals last season!!), and also look like they are currently one of the better teams going in the AHL.
Next up, Saturday night, back at home against the Buffalo Sabres farm team, Rochester Americans.
Here is hoping the Crunch don't suffer a letdown after sweeping the home-at-home against Hamilton.
While the Americans defense is about middling, they CAN put pucks in the net, and either Tokarski or Helenius, as well as the 'D' will have their work cut out for them.
Rochester also has a propensity for on-ice rough housing, just like the Crunch, so this one could be filled with PIM's as well.
Saturday, Nov 10, 2012
Rochester Americans at Syracuse Crunch
Final: Americans 5 , Crunch 2
Rochester really dropped the hammer on Syracuse tonight.
Games started off with the expected rough stuff...two fights and assorted roughing penalties, but turned into a pretty good game for the first two periods and into the third.
Rochester did a good job of keeping pressure almost all game on Rikku Helenius who was in goal for the Crunch.
Not sure if it was playing the night before, but the Americans simply looked much faster and with more jump in their steps than the Crunch did.
Then again, Rochester has some pretty good offensive players (Marcus Foligno was EVERYWHERE for them in this game!!), and it could just as well been a case of the Americans putting on a pretty good offensive push that Syracuse just didn't handle.
Not sure if he can play the way he played this game at the NHL level at a consistent level (he had 6 goals , 7 assists in limited playtime for the Sabres last season), but man, Buffalo could have something in this big, fast goal scorer if he can.
Former Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nick Tarnasky, now playing for Rochester, got a goal and fought Syracuse's Eric Nielsen.
Man, I miss that guy on the Lightning. I know he isn't they prototypical Lightning player (fast and with lots of offense), but man he likes to hit, plays his heart out, and he DOES have some underrated offense if you don't pay attention to him.
Goals for the Crunch, Richard Panik and Cory Conacher.
Both those guys may get looks at the NHL level by the Lightning sooner than later I believe.
But tonight was all about the Rochester Americans, and their fast offense.
Syracuse had their chances, but between whiffing on shots, and some good saves by the Rochester goalie, David Leggio, it just wasn't meant to be.
P.C. Labrie for the Crunch had a GREAT scoring opportunity at a crucial time when the game was still within reach due to a bad turnover by the Americans, but could not convert.
I got to see Labrie play a bit with the Lightning last season and I can't say I am surprised....he just isn't a goal scorer.
Big, tough guy, who plays a very physical style...but his hockey skillset is somewhat limited.
If he gets another shot at the NHL, it will be strictly as a third or fourth liner.
Well, can't win'em all (and Rochester is now 2-0 against the Crunch so far this season), so all the team can do now is recuperate and move forward.
They will have six days to do just that, as their next game is at home against division rivals, the Hershey Bears, the Washington Capitals top farm team...and their stingy defense.
Still one of the top teams in the AHL...go Crunch!
If anyone is interested, I did post an update to Blake Geoffrion's condition on the Montreal Canadiens board.
I mention it here because it was Syracuse's JP Cote, as mentioned in my earlier post, that put the hit on Geoffrion...again, clean hit...but with unfortunate consequences.
Wishing Geoffrion and his family and friends well.
Also, this was from the same game with the Geoffrion incident...it was a scrap, via fan cam, between Syracuse's Radko Gudas and Hamilton's Jarred Tinordi.
Tale of the tape
Gudas 6ft, 205....Tinordi 6'5 215...
That don't matter to Radko....he takes'em all on and even if he doesn't get a knockdown, he holds his own
Friday, Nov 16, 2012
Hershey Bears at Syracuse Crunch
Final: Crunch 6 , Bears 1
Unfortunately, didn't get a chance to watch this one, however, what a game by the Crunch!
6-1 blasting of Washington's top farm team!
And this was with Braden Holtby (yes, the SAME Braden Holtby who gave the Ny Rangers all they could handle in last season's playoffs) in net.
He gets knocked out after surrendering 4 goals on 28 shots, and his replacement Dany Sabourin gave up another two.
According to the scoresheet, this was a nasty affair as well....filled with unsportsmanlike penalties, high sticking, slashing, instigating, and of course, fighting.
Not sure who got the sparks flying first, or whether the Bear defense was more to blame over the goalies for the ton of goals given up, but either way, this was just a dismantling of the Bears by the Crunch (who lived up to their name here), and what a way to possibly turn around what has been up to this point, a poor playing team at home vs. on the road.
No rest for Syracuse, as they take on the Adirondack Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers farm team) at home tonight.
Some players with NHL experience on that Phantoms team: Zac Rinaldo, Brayden Schenn, Marc Andre Bourdon just to name a few.
And this being a Crunch-Phantoms game (Adirondack taking on the characteristics of their parent Flyers club), this could be a nasty game as well.
Saturday, Nov 17, 2012
Adirondack Phantoms at Syracuse Crunch
Final: Crunch 5, Phantoms 2
Very physical game and another Crunch win...at home too.
From the looks of this game and the Hershey game, the early season home woes the Crunch had are a thing of the past.
Physically, this game was pretty even....the Phantoms and Crunch each played a hard game.
On the scoresheet however, it was a totally different story.
The Crunch pretty much had this game won midway through the 2nd period when they staked themselves out to a 5-0 lead at that point.
'Cuse knocked out yet another goalie in Cal Heeter (not literally...talking goalie changes) of the Phantoms....Braden Holtby was the previous victim of goal barrrages by the Crunch.
PC Labrie put on a good show, a goal and a scrap...Bret Connolly and Cory Conacher with a goal and an assist each...JT Brown and Mark Barberio each tallied a pair of assists...Barberio in particular had a VERY good game in terms of ice coverage and good physical hockey to go along with his scoresheet points.
Goalie Riku Helenius was outstanding in net, stopping 24 of 26....and really, only one shot, Brayden Schenn's goal, looked like it beat Helenius cleanly.
Really, the Phantoms simply looked overmatched in this game as the Crunch imposed their will on Philly's farm team. The aforementioned Brayden Schenn being the only real bright spot for Adirondack.
Schenn in fact, has been pretty damned good all season for the Phantoms. This guy will no doubt be a starting forward for the Flyers once the NHL gets their heads out of their ***** and resume an actual season.
Sunday, Nov 18, 2012
Syracuse Crunch at Hershey Bears
Final: Crunch 5, Bears 3
Didn't get to watch this one and apparently, I missed another good game by the Lightning farm team.
Radko Gudas seemed to be the big star here and no, not for his fighting...he got himself a goal and a pair of assists.
Richard Panik continues his steady scoring ways with a two point night...ditto for Brett Conolly.
Braden Holtby ONCE AGAIN, didn't get to finish the game, giving up 3 goals on 20 shots...and his replacement, Dany Sabourin would fare no better letting in 2 goals on 7 shots.
I really would have liked to have seen this one as it is surprising to me that a goalie who made a good showing of himself in the NHL post season like Holtby did, is having so much trouble at the AHL level against this Crunch team.
I do realize Syracuse IS one of the best teams going in the 'A' (defending Calder Cup champs!), but still, somehow I thought Holtby would be better.
Perhaps it was his defense letting him down more...giving up way too many easy scoring chances...who knows.
Either way, I would think there may be just a bit of concern regarding Holtby by Caps fans....was his playoff run vs. the New York Rangers a fluke? Or is he simply going through his growing pains and will be fine once the Caps start play once again?
Interesting to say the least as I was one of those people that really thought Brayden would have been a shoe-in for starting goaltender on the NHL Washington Capitals had the season started this year.
I will add video highlights of this game as it becomes available to me.
Next up for Syracuse:
A home game on Friday, the 23rd (Black Friday!!) against the Binghamton Senators, top farm team of, yup, the Ottawa Senators...surprise, surprise!
They play that home game before embarking on a 10 day, 5 game road trip.