2007-08 RECORD: 13-15-1-1, 28 points, (6-6-0-0 home, 7-9-1-1 road), third place, North Division
THIS WEEK'S GAMES
Wednesday, December 19 @ Toronto (17-5-0-4, 38 points), first place, North Division
Friday, December 21 vs. Albany (16-12-0-2, 34 points), second place, East Division
Saturday, December 22 @ Hartford (19-8-0-2, 40 points), second place, Atlantic Division
LAST WEEK'S RESULT
Wednesday, December 12 - Crunch 4, LAKE ERIE 1
Friday, December 13 - BINGHAMTON 4 , Crunch 3
Saturday, December 14 - CRUNCH 9 , Hamilton 2
HOME TEAM IN CAPS
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: The Syracuse Crunch offense exploded for nine goals in Saturday’s win vs. Hamilton, but it has been their commitment to defense that has been the most significant to the Crunch's recent winning ways.
Since December 1, Syracuse has compiled a record of 6-2-0-1 and has outscored their opponents by a margin of 31-16. That is an average output of 3.44 goals per game and only 1.78 goals against, almost a 2 to 1 ratio. In the first 21 contests of the year, Syracuse gave up 69 goals, an average of 3.29 goals per game.
Some key additions on the blue line have certainly played a huge part in Crunch's new found stifling style of play. On November 15, Syracuse traded left wing Geoff Platt to Portland for defensemen Aaron Rome and Clay Wilson. Since coming over to the Crunch, both d-men have contributed 10 points (2g, 8a) each, while combining for a +1 rating in 13 games.
Brett Motherwell, who was signed by the Crunch to an amateur try-out contract on November 15, has notched 5 points (1g, 4a), along with a + 6 rating in just 9 games.
Defensive stalwarts Dan Smith and Marc Methot have been rocks on the blue line for Syracuse since the beginning of the season, bringing consistency and grit night in and night out. Smith is one of just four Crunch players, (Derek MacKenzie, Andrew Murray and Adam Pineault being the others), that has appeared in all 30 games.
The Syracuse Crunch forwards, along with the defensemen, have played great defensively as well. Murray, Pineault and MacKenzie have combined for a +4 rating this year and have been stellar on the penalty killing unit, combining for five of the team's seven short-handed goals. The penalty killing unit as a whole has only let up 30 goals on 208 times short-handed (85.1%), good for eighth in the American Hockey League.
CAPTAIN KONOPKA LEADING THE WAY: Zenon Konopka was as frustrated as anyone with the Crunch's slow start. The reason was because he was out with a hand injury and could not play. The injury was one that he suffered in a fight at the end of last season that required two surgeries to fix over the summer. His hand is still not fully healed, but he is certainly not showing it.
After a 4-2 November 30 home loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Konopka, who did not play that night, called a players only meeting in the locker room after the game speaking words of encouragement for the team. After that game, Konopka was back in the lineup the very next night and the Crunch have gone 6-2-0-1 since.
Konopka also backs up the words he speaks. Since coming back, Konopka has 10 points (5g, 5a) in 9 games while still playing with that injured hand.
THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS:
TORONTO MARLIES (TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS): The Crunch travel to Toronto on Wednesday for their fourth meeting of the season against the Marlies. The Crunch are 0-2-1 against Toronto so far this year. The last meeting back on November 24 at the Ricoh Coliseum saw Toronto steal an overtime win from the Crunch in a hard fought 4-3 battle. In the season series, Syracuse's Joakim Lindstrom (1g, 5a) and Toronto's David Ling (4g, 2a) and John Mitchell (2g, 4a) have six points each.
ALBANY RIVER RATS (CAROLINA HURRICANES): The Albany River Rats make their second trip of the season to Syracuse and face-off against the Crunch for the third time this year on Friday. Syracuse took the last meeting, a 3-1 victory back on December 1 at the War Memorial at Oncenter. Albany won the first game of the series, 3-2, at the Times Union Center back on October 24. Albany's Michael Leighton has played both game for the Rats, going 1-1-0-0 with a 2.04 goals-against average and .938 save percentage.
HARTFORD WOLF PACK (NEW YORK RANGERS): The Crunch travel to Hartford on Saturday for the only time this season for the second of two meetings between these two teams. These two teams met back on October 13 at the War Memorial at Oncenter. Hartford came out on top in that contest, 5-3. The Wolf Pack's Nigel Dawes notched three points (1g, 2a) in that game and leads all scorers in the series.
The Saturday, December 15 game was the first Crunch home game since a 3-1 win over Albany on December 1…The Crunch power play is 36-for-169 (21.3%), good for fourth in the American Hockey League… Brett Motherwell's tally in the first period Saturday was his first of the season and first as a professional… Andrew Murray's assist on Adam Pineault's goal Saturday night was his first assist of the season…Tom Sestito's goal Saturday was his second of the season and first since November 2 @ Hamilton… Syracuse spread the scoring around during Saturday's game with eight different goal-scorers on nine total goals… Ten different Crunch players had at least one point… Eight Crunch players notched at least two points in Saturday’s 9-2 win over Hamilton… The Crunch matched a season-high in goals Saturday night with nine… They scored nine goals in a 9-2 win over Rochester back on October 27… Goaltender Karl Goehring made his season debut Friday after being signed by Syracuse to a professional try-out contract on December 13… The Crunch wrapped up a season-long seven-game road trip Friday that started on December 2 @ Lake Erie.