The Syracuse Crunch are newcomers to the East division this season after spending last season in the Western Conferences' North division. And they are not being welcomed warmly.
Currently the Crunch sit in 6th place just 2 points ahead of last place Norfolk in the division. Although surprisingly that is only 4 points out of a playoff spot. This is not exactly the East division of old right now.
With the exception of the Hershey Bears. In the last 2 games they have scored 17 goals and pretty much embarrassed the two teams closest to them in the division standings, Albany and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
For only the second time this season Hershey will welcome the Crunch to Hershey while the Bears will return the favor and head to New York 3 times in the last few weeks of the season. This is the 2nd of 6 meetings this year and the last until March 20th in Syracuse.
Syracuse comes into the game as a poor road team overall with a record of 7-14-2-2 this season on the road. They have to be getting used to the road lately as this will be their 10th road game in the last 12 games. They seem to be getting better though as they have won their last 4 road games and are 5-2-1-1 during this latest road game streak.
I would expect to see Braden Holtby back in net for Hershey while Dan LaCosta gets his second consecutive start for the Crunch tonight. LaCosta played in the previous matchup between the teams, a 4-1 Hershey win the day after Christmas.
LaCosta and the Crunch are coming off a big loss at home last night to rival Rochester. It was the 8th meeting between the teams and the 8th win for Rochester. It was described as a playoff atmosphere in Syracuse between the teams but the Crunch couldn't quite get the win.
That should serve as a plus for Hershey as losing a close game in front of an inspired crowd is usually a tough thing to come back from instantly....especially when headed on the road to face the league's best offense.
record ~ 31-9-0-2 64 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 7-2 Win vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 1/16
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
home record ~ 16-3-0-2
goals for ~ 169
goals against ~94
power play ~ 20.3% (3rd)
penalty kill ~ 91.4% (1st)
record ~ 16-20-3-3 38 points
standings ~ 6th in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 Loss vs Rochester, 1/16
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
road record ~ 7-14-2-2
goals for ~ 111
goals against ~ 152
power play ~ 13.9% (22nd)
penalty kill ~ 81.8% (18th)
last time teams met - Hershey won 4-1 at home on December 26th. 4 more games to be played at the end of the season between the two teams.
Players to watch:
LW Alexander Giroux (12)- What else can he do? 5 goals and 3 assists in the last 2 games, a 10 game point streak in which he has 8 goals and 9 assists and yet he still trails Aucoin for the points lead by 3.
C Keith Aucoin (11) - Almost as impressive as Giroux with 2 goals and 5 assists in the last 2 games and he too has a 10 game point streak with 7 goals and 14 assists.
C Kyle Wilson (18) - His streak shrinks in comparison to the aforementioned Coiner and Giroux but he does have a 4 game goal streak with 5 goals during that span.
C Jared Aulin (10) - The former Bear is leading the team in goals (11) and points (25). Has scored 3 goals and 6 assists in 7 January games.
D Brendan Bell (9) - Came over from Peoria during the season he is tied for the team lead in points with 25 (only 8 with Syracuse). Worst plus/minus on the team at -19. But does have a goal and 5 assists in his last 5 games.
C Tomas Kana (5) - The rookie has only played 17 games with the Crunch this season (all since the beginning of December) but he has 8 goals and 4 assists in those games including 3 goals and 3 assists in 7 January games.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!