2008-09 RECORD: 13-6-0-1, 27 points, (7-1-0-0 home, 6-5-0-1 road), third place, North Division
THIS WEEK'S GAMES
Friday, November 28 vs. Toronto (7-7-0-2, 16 points), fifth place, North Division
Saturday, November 29 @ Albany (4-9-2-2, 12 points), seventh place, East Division
LAST WEEK'S RESULT
Wednesday, November 19 - WBS 3, Crunch 0
Friday, November 21 - ALBANY 3, Crunch 1
Saturday, November 22 - CRUNCH 1, Albany 0 (SO)
Sunday, November 23 - Binghamton 2, CRUNCH 1
HOME TEAM IN CAPS
DAN'S THE MAN: Crunch goaltender Dan LaCosta came into this season with an open mind, decided he was going to play to the best of his ability and let the chips fall where they may. The chips have landed with LaCosta as the Crunch's clear cut number one man between the pipes.
With Columbus' goaltending situation in flux with injuries and question marks, that situation has led to 20-year old top goaltending prospect Steve Mason seeing significant time with the big club. Expected to spend a majority of this season with the Crunch, Mason has played well enough to stick on the Blue Jackets' roster for now, leaving LaCosta as the number one netminder for Syracuse.
LaCosta has turned it on recently, stopping 180 of his last 190 shots (.947%) and posting a shutout since a sub-par performance on November 12 in Albany that saw him give up three goals on 14 shots before being pulled in favor of backup Sebastian Dahm.
LaCosta has 10 wins on the campaign, tying him for second in the AHL and only one behind Hamilton's Marc Denis for the league lead. A native of Labrador City, Newfoundland, the 22-year old has posted a 2.16 goals against average and .928 save percentage in 15 games this year, ranking sixth in the league in both of those categories.
LaCosta is also quietly moving up the Crunch's all-time goaltending list in a number of categories. He is currently ranked ninth in games played (49), eighth in wins (24), first in goals against average (2.37), tied for third in shutouts (5) and tied for third in save percentage (.919). LaCosta was drafted by Columbus in the third round, 93rd overall, in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
RUSSELL FINDING HIS GAME: After a rookie campaign that saw him play in 67 NHL games with the Columbus Blue Jackets last season, defenseman Kris Russell found himself in the world of minor-league hockey after being assigned by the big club back on October 26.
Many players would have been angry or upset about it, but Russell took it as an opportunity to find his game in Syracuse. After a four-game adjustment period without a point and a minus-4 plus/minus rating, Russell has produced eight points (3g, 5a), over his last 10 games. Five of those points (2g, 3a), have come on the power play. The offensive-minded blueliner also has 35 shots on goal in 14 games, a 2.5 shots per game average.
A native of Caroline, Alberta, Russell was drafted by Columbus in the third round, 67th overall, in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS:
TORONTO MARLIES (TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS): The Toronto Marlies make their first trip to the War Memorial at Oncenter for the first of eight contests this season and first game between these two clubs since the Marlies eliminated the Crunch in Game Seven of the North Division Finals last year. The Crunch were 4-3-1-0 against the Marlies last season and are 12-11-1 in 24 all-time meetings between the two teams. Former Crunch left wing Joakim Lindstrom led all Crunch players with eight points (1g, 7a) in five games, while blueliner Clay Wilson tallied six points (2g, 4a) in six games last season against Toronto. Former Crunch member David Ling led all players in the season series with 10 points (6g, 4a).
ALBANY RIVER RATS (CAROLINA HURRICANES): The Crunch makes its third trip to New York's state capital to face-off against the Albany River Rats on Friday night for the fourth of eight meetings between the two clubs this season. Syracuse is 2-1-0-0 against the Rats this season. Center Nikita Filatov (0g, 3a) and defenseman Kris Russell (2g, 1a), lead the Crunch in scoring with three points each in the season series, while Mike Angelidis (3g, 0a), Jermone Samson (2g, 1a) and Nicolas Blanchard (0g, 3a), have potted three points each for Albany. The Crunch and Rats skated to a scoreless tie through 65 mintues on November 22 before Syracuse won it in a shootout on a goal from Derek MacKenzie.
The Crunch's loss to Binghamton Sunday was the first time Syracuse dropped a home game in regulation since February 18 of last season, a streak of 24 games… The loss also snapped Syracuse's 18-game regulation winning streak at home dating back to last season… The Crunch has taken a lead into the third period in just three of 20 games this season…With an assist last night, Nikita Filatov broke an eight-game scoring drought… Syracuse is 5-5-0-0 against East Division teams and 8-1-0-1 against the rest of the AHL… When the Crunch scores two goals or more, they are 12-0-0-0.