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Crunch Report: March 2, 2010

by Blue Jackets Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets

2009-10 RECORD: 26-29-3-3, 58 points, (13-12-1-1 home, 13-17-2-2 road), sixth place, East Division


THIS WEEK'S GAMES

Friday, March 5 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (30-27-1-2, 63 points), fourth place, East Division
Saturday, March 6 vs. Portland (35-18-5-3, 78 points), first place, first place, Atlantic Division
Sunday, March 7 @ Binghamton (22-29-4-3, 51 points), seventh place, East Division


LAST WEEK'S RESULTS

Wednesday, February 24 @ Adirondack - Crunch 6, ADIRONDACK 5
Friday, February 26 @ Lake Erie - Crunch 3, LAKE ERIE 2
Saturday, February 27 vs. Springfield - Springfield 2, CRUNCH 1
Sunday, February 28 vs. Norfolk - Norfolk 3, CRUNCH 2

HOME TEAM IN CAPS


FIRST LINE SHINES:
Although the Crunch's overall performance has been up-and-down lately, one constant the team has been able to count on is scoring from its top line of Tomas Kana, Derek MacKenzie and Alexandre Picard.

The trio has combined for 18 points (6g, 12a) over the last four games, with each player recording two goals and four helpers over that span. They were instrumental in the Crunch's 6-5 win at Adirondack on February 24, combining for seven points (3g, 4a) in that contest, and contributed another seven points (2g, 5a) two nights later in a 3-2 victory over Lake Erie.

MacKenzie (17g, 25a in 44 games) and Picard (17g, 18a in 42 games) currently rank first and second on the club in scoring, while Kana has recorded 13 goals, 12 assists and a plus-2 rating in 35 games for the Crunch this season. In addition, MacKenzie (.95), Picard (.83) and Kana (.69) are ranked first, second and third among active players on the club in average points per game.


ROAD WARRIORS:
It has been a tale of two seasons for the Crunch on the road this year. The team got off to the worst road start of any AHL team, going just 2-13-2-1 in its first 18 games away from the War Memorial at Oncenter.

Since that point, the club has put together an impressive 11-4-0-1 mark over its last 16 road matches, helping to position itself within striking distance in the East Division playoff race.

Conversely, it has been a similar story for the Crunch at home this season. The club bolted out to an 8-3-1-1 record to start the season at the War Memorial at Oncenter. Since that point, Syracuse has gone 5-9-0-0 over its last 14 home contests, dropping them to an overall home record of 13-12-1-1. Coming into this season, the Crunch had gone a combined 52-20-4-4 (.722 winning %) over the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons at the War Memorial at Oncenter.


UPCOMING GAMES

WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PENGUINS (PITTSBURGH PENGUINS):
The Crunch welcome Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to town on Friday night for the eighth and final meeting of the season between these two clubs. Syracuse is 2-4-0-1 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this year, with both wins coming on the road. The Crunch are 0-3-0-0 against the Penguins at home in 2009-10 and have been outscored 17-5 in those contests. Derek MacKenzie leads the Crunch in scoring against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season with six points (2g, 4a), while Dustin Jeffrey leads his club and all players with 11 points (5g, 6a) in the season series.

PORTLAND PIRATES (BUFFALO SABRES): The Portland Pirates make their only visit to the War Memorial at Oncenter on Saturday for the second and final game between these two clubs in 2009-10. Portland took the only other meeting back on February 12, defeating the Crunch by a 3-1 count on the strength of two points (1g, 1a) from Jeff Cowan and a goal each from T.J. Brennan and Philip Gogulla. Jared Aulin notched the Crunch’s only goal in the contest.

BINGHAMTON SENATORS (OTTAWA SENATORS): The Crunch make the just over one hour trek to Binghamton on Sunday for a 5:05 p.m. match-up with the arch-rival Senators. It will be the eighth and final meeting between these two clubs this year. The home team has won every game in the season series, including the last time these two teams clashed back on February 20, with the Crunch beating Binghamton in front of an AHL record 21,508 fans in the Mirabito Outdoor Classic, the AHL’s first-ever outdoor game. Jared Aulin (4g, 2a) and David Liffiton (1g, 5a) lead the Crunch in scoring against Binghamton this year, while Kevin Lalande is 3-1-0 with a 2.18 goals against average and .943 save percentage. The Senators’ Josh Hennessy leads his club and all players in the season series with nine points (5g, 4a).

CRUNCHABLES:
The Crunch play 13 of their remaining 19 games at the War Memorial at Oncenter… In the month of February, Kevin Lalande went 5-6-0 with a 2.19 goals against average and .922 save percentage… Brendan Bell sixth in scoring among AHL defenseman (10g, 29a) and second in power play scoring (9g, 17a)… The Crunch have not played an overtime game since a shootout win over San Antonio on January 29… Syracuse ranks seventh in the AHL in road power play percentage (19.6%)… Kevin Harvey appeared in his 100th Crunch and AHL game, February 28 vs. Norfolk.

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