Wed., Mar. 20 - Crunch vs. W-B/Scranton - W, 1-0
Fri., Mar. 22 - Crunch vs. Hamilton - L, 1-0
Sat., Mar. 23 - Crunch vs. Albany - W, 3-1
Wed., Mar. 27 - Crunch at Rochester, 7:05 p.m.
Fri., Mar. 29 - Crunch at Norfolk, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Mar. 30 - Crunch at Norfolk, 7:15 p.m.
Need to Know
- Syracuse owns the AHL's greatest point total, 86, and points percentage, 0.662, with a 39-18-3-5 record.
- The Crunch need seven points to clinch a postseason berth; 12 games remain on their regular season slate.
- After a 3-1-0-1 homestand, Syracuse plays its next three on the road: at Rochester and twice in Norfolk.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Game 63: Syracuse wins defensive battle over Penguins, 1-0
Wednesday vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton marked the first time this season Syracuse won a 1-0 game. Cedrick Desjardins stopped all 20 shots he faced to pick up his fifth win and third shutout since joining Syracuse last month. After a scoreless first, in which the Crunch outshot the Penguins 12-4, Philip-Michael Devos ripped a shot from the left-wing circle over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goalie Jeff Zatkoff’s shoulder for the game’s only goal. Set up by a breakout pass by defenseman Matt Taormina to Danick Gauthier, Devos collected his fifth goal of the season and fourth point in three games. Zatkoff, who led the AHL in goals-against average, stopped 26 of the Crunch’s 27 shots. The Crunch win the season series, 5-3.
Game 64: Tokarski blanks Crunch, 1-0
Syracuse bombarded Hamilton goalie Dustin Tokarski with 40 shots, but couldn’t find the back of the net in a 1-0 loss Friday to the Bulldogs. The first two periods went back and forth, with neither team able to finish a scoring opportunity. Finally, halfway through the third period, Hamilton’s Alex Belzile scored his first career AHL goal off a centering pass from Michael Bournival. Syracuse nearly tied the game in the final minute, but officials blew the whistle before a Brett Connolly rebound chance crossed the goal line. Tokarski, the former Crunch goalie, set a season-high for saves inside in the War Memorial. His previous best, 29, was against the Penguins in December. He beat his former teammate Riku Helenius, who stopped 24 shots in the loss. Syracuse wins the season series, 3-1.
Game 65: Syracuse offense gets back on track in 3-1 win over Albany
Having scored one goal over the previous two games, the Crunch offense bounced back Saturday in a 3-1 win over the Devils. The final meeting of the season between the clubs was enjoyed by 6,184 fans at the War Memorial, the Crunch's third sellout of the season. Syracuse got two goals in the first period. First, Vlad Namestnikov finished a chance after J.F. Jacques forced a turnover with a hit in the corner. Less than a minute later, Dan Sexton doubled the Crunch lead by banking the puck off of Albany goalie Jeff Frazee from the right wing corner after his inital breakaway chance was stifled. With a 2-0 lead going to the second, J.T. Brown provided an insurance goal, one-timing a no-look pass from J.T. Wyman on a rush with Dan Sexton. Only a Matt Anderson power-play goal with 54 seconds left in the game ruined a shutout bid by Riku Helenius who stopped 27 of 28 Devils shots for his 16th win.
03/21/2013 Cedrick Desjardins (G) DEL Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay (NHL)
03/21/2013 Pat Nagle (G) ADD Reassigned by Tampa Bay (NHL) from Florida (ECHL)
03/21/2013 Richard Panik (RW) DEL Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay (NHL)
03/19/2013 Alex Hutchings (LW) ADD Reassigned by Tampa Bay (NHL) from Florida (ECHL)
- Saturday vs. Albany, Dan Sexton posted his first goal (the game-winner) and first multi-point effort since returning to the Crunch. He has three points in five games since being traded from the Anaheim Ducks organization Mar. 12. He had 16 points (5g, 11a) with two multi-point performances in 27 contests for AHL-Norfolk this year. In 93 career games for the Crunch over three seasons, Sexton has 63 points (23g, 40a) with 12 multi-point games.
- Riku Helenius has not allowed more than two goals over his last five games, winning four of the five while dropping his goals-against average to 2.62 and reaching a 0.900 save percentage. He is 16-10-0 on the season.
- The Crunch power play is scoreless in its last 14 chances, including zero power-play goals in the last three games. Only once this year have the Crunch failed to score a power-play goal in four straight games: Dec. 8-14 when they were 0-for-25. For the season the Syracuse power play is ranked 10th at 18.2% (56-for-308).
- Syracuse's penalty kill had stopped 15 consecutive power plays when Matt Anderson scored for Albany in the final minute of play Saturday. That tally denied Syracuse its first five-game stretch of perfect penalty killing since Nov. 2-16 when Syracuse stopped 18 straight chances over five games. The Crunch kill is ranked 14th in the AHL at 83.7% (262-for-313).
- The Crunch had not played a 1-0 game decided in regulation all season until the two in Week 24, a 1-0 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and a 1-0 loss to Hamilton. The Crunch suffered a shootout loss, 1-0, Jan. 25 vs. Binghamton as Dustin Tokarski and Robin Lehner were perfect through regulation and overtime.
- The Crunch have scored a game's first goal in 38 of 65 contests, winning 31 times and collecting 66 points. The team's points percentage when scoring a game's first goal is 0.868, best in the AHL. The league average is 0.710. Syracuse won both games in which it scored the first goal during Week 24.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Crunch at Rochester—Wednesday, 7:05 p.m.
For the ninth of ten times, and for the last time on the road, the Syracuse Crunch play the Rochester Americans Wednesday night. The Amerks have won six of the first eight matches with Syracuse, including the most recent one, 2-1, in overtime Mar. 2 at the War Memorial. The Crunch’s only two wins in the season series have come in Rochester, where they are 2-1-0-1 this season.
After a five-game road trip, which concluded with a three-in-three weekend (a loss in Texas on Friday, a win in Houston on Saturday, and a 3-0 win in San Antonio on Sunday), the Amerks return home for the Crunch on Wednesday. They then host the Marlies on Friday and visit Hamilton on Saturday.
With eight wins in their last 12 games (8-3-1-0) the Amerks have moved back in playoff position in the Western Conference. At 35-25-3-1 overall and 74 points, the Americans are second in the North Division and sixth in the Western Conference. They are six points behind Toronto for first place in the North Division, but have a three-point cushion over five teams battling for the last two playoff spots in the Western Conference.
The Amerks are led by the right wing Mark Mancari (20g-38a-58pts) who is the AHL's third leading scorer among active players, defenseman Brayden McNabb (5g-31a-36pts) who is top five among scoring for active defensemen, and center Phil Varone (9g-22a-31pts) who leads the AHL in shorthanded assists (4). Mancari’s 38 helpers overall are fourth most in the AHL. Goaltender David Leggio has the most victories in the league (33-20-1) with six against Syracuse, playing all eight games vs. the Crunch with a 2.58 goals-against average.
For the Crunch, Brett Connolly leads active players for Syracuse with five points (3g-2a) in the eight games against Rochester. Riku Helenius has four losses in four games against the Amerks.
Crunch at Norfolk—Friday, 7:30 p.m. & Saturday, 7:15
The Syracuse Crunch visit the Norfolk Admirals for a pair of games Friday and Saturday. It’s the second time the Crunch will play two straight games at the Norfolk Scope, having swept the Ads Jan. 4 & 5. The two games this week will be the sixth and seventh time they meet, with the Crunch winning four of the first five. Norfolk won the last match 4-3 in a shootout, and three of the five games have gone past regulation.
The Admirals are coming off a road win Saturday against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The Admirals visit Charlotte on Tuesday night before returning home for the pair of games against the Crunch.
With two consecutive wins, and points in seven of ten games (6-3-1-0), the Admirals have pulled back into the playoff hunt. With a 31-28-4-1 record and 67 points, the Ads are last in the East Division but tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference. Their 67 points are four shy of Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
The Ads are led by left wing Patrick Maroon (18g-22a-40pts), defenseman Sami Vatanen (7g-33a-40pts), and right wing Devante Smith-Pelly (10g-15a-25pts). Vatanen’s 40 points are tied with the Crunch’s Mark Barberio for the most by a defenseman in the AHL (among active players). Frederik Andersen and Igor Bobkov have shared time in goal this season for the Ads. Bobkov has played in three games against the Crunch and is 1-1-1-0 while Andersen is 0-1-0-1 in two games against Syracuse.
For the Crunch, Vladislav Namestnikov is the active leading scorer against the Admirals, with four points (2g-2a) in four games against Norfolk. No active goalie on the Crunch roster has played against Norfolk this season, as Dustin Tokarski (currently with AHL Hamilton) and Cederik Desjardins (currently with NHL Tampa Bay) were the two goalies to start the five previous games against the Admirals.