The journey to the Calder Cup finals this season has been a long one. The Syracuse Crunch have seen hard fought wins, and even tougher losses. That journey is about to come to its climactic end. Today, our Syracuse Crunch take on the Grand Rapids Griffins in Game 1 of this best-of-seven series to be crowned the 2013 Calder Cup Champion.
During the regular season, the Syracuse Crunch went 43-22-6 in the 76 games they played this season. The playoffs have proven to be even better. In 12 games, the Crunch have only lost one game, coming at the hands of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 4-2 loss in Game 1 of that series.
At the same time, the Grand Rapids Griffins, American Hockey League affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, had a very similar scenario. In the regular season, they were able to go 42-36-4 in their 76 games. While the Griffins have certainly not been lacking during the playoffs, their win ratio is not quite as impressive as the Crunch. Throughout the 18 games they have played during the playoffs, the Griffins have gone 11-7-0.
One advantage that the Syracuse Crunch is going to have in this best-of-seven series is experience. While the Syracuse Crunch franchise may have never been the to the Calder Cup Finals in its 19-year history, many of the players that have suited up for the Crunch this season were a part of the Norfolk Admirals team last season that took home the Calder Cup. Mike Angelidis, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Radko Gudas, Richard Panik, and more all know what it takes to hold the Cup up high.
Speaking of Tyler Johnson, he may be the Crunch’s best not-so-secret weapon during this series. In the 12 games the Crunch have played this playoff season, the 5’10 center has registered 9 goals and 8 assists for a total of 17 points to go along with his plus-13 rating.
On the other side of the ice, The Griffins have left wing Tomas Tatar. Tatar currently leads the remaining playoff players in the AHL in goals scored with 11. Combined with his 5 assists, he has garnered a total of 16 points. He could potentially be a competitor for Tyler Johnson.
Then, you have Tomas Jurco and Luke Glendening, both with 13 points during the Calder Cup Playoffs this season. Jurco has 7 goals and 6 assists, while Glendening has 5 goals and 8 assists.
One thing is for sure, the Griffins have no shortage of fire power on their team. The question of the day is ‘Do they have what it takes to get past the Crunch’s defense?’
The Crunch has no shortage of defensive power. Radko Gudas has become known by Tampa Bay Lightning fans for his incredibly hard hits and fierce playing style. #FearTheBeard signs are commonplace at any game Gudas suits up for. Also, with the addition of 6’8 defenseman Andrej Sustr, the Crunch has added longer reach to their defense as well as solid puck handling, and even scoring potential on the defensive line.
If there is anything that I am willing to guarantee you when it comes to this series, it is that you will not be bored. This is bound to be a tough series for both teams. With both teams having exceptional fire power on their side, it will be up to the defense and the goaltenders to control the pace of the game, and quite possibly, the outcome.
There are so many questions that will have answers over the course of the next (possibly) 7 games. Who do you think will come out on top? Should the Crunch win the series, who would you pick as the MVP of the Playoffs? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.
The complete schedule of games, including dates and times, can be found here. Don’t forget that you can watch every game of the Calder Cup Finals for free thanks to AHL Live. See the details on that here.