The Syracuse Crunch played a dominating game on Wednesday night in Buffalo and sent the Rochester Americans sinking to fourth place in the North Division. It’s only a two point spread between second and fourth but it feels more like 20.
Sean Malone gave the Amerks an early lead scoring a short handed goal 5:01 into the first period. Took the puck fast down the ice and a quick shot beat Connor Ingram low blocker side.
(Photo by: Micheline Veluvolu & Bill Wippert)
Justin Danforth created some traffic in front of the Crunch net later in the first period but nothing would come of it. At the other end of the ice Linus Ullmark was excellent stopping 29 of 31 shots.
That’s it for the positive moments in the game.
The Crunch came out flying in the second period scoring goals at 1:26 and 1:36 and comfortably held a 2-1 lead for the remainder of the game. Mitchell Stephens scored first, Matthew Peca scored second.
“Nothing,” Chris Taylor said talking about what happened in the second period. That could sum up the rest of the game as well.
Mathieu Joseph took a four minute double minor for high sticking with 4:57 left in the third period gifting the Amerks a chance to tie the game. Nothing. Dominik Masin provided the Amerks with another advantage with 27 seconds left in the game. Nothing.
The Amerks power play unit was 0/4 in the game. The Crunch were 0/5 in the game. Penalty kill units perfect on both sides!
They said all of the right things in the morning. They knew what they had to do. They worked on the power play in practices. They talked about playing as a team in practice. Nothing.
After a massive 12-3 win last Friday there was a this quote from Seth Griffith, “Tomorrow’s almost like a rebound night because they’re not going to go in like that every night.”
Three games and three losses later they didn’t rebound. Outscored 5-2 and out shot 97-62 in those three games. In the third period of the last three games the shot advantage has been 31-16. Not in favor of the Amerks.
Those were all one goal games.
The season has hit a rock bottom.
Not because of injuries, call ups, or suspensions. At this point in the season it’s a talent issue. Teams have gotten better, players have gotten better. Some Amerks have gotten better, like Sean Malone. He scored a short handed goal and won a key face off on that last power play chance but nothing came of it.
It’d take a massive winning streak of a team below the Amerks for them to miss the playoffs but simply making the playoffs isn’t good enough. The Toronto Marlies are the best team in the league and whoever sits in fourth place will have to play them in the first round.
Words are meaningless when the actions can’t back them up. Three of the Amerks next four games are against that league leading Toronto Marlies. There’s 22 games left in the season and in a close North Division there’s plenty of time to still finish in second place but the question is, are they good enough?
Relying on the hope that anything can happen once you’re in the playoffs is not the way to finish the season.