Tampa Bay Lightning: Syracuse Crunch Finding Success Early

After missing the Calder Cup Playoffs last season, the Syracuse Crunch are determined to get back and have jumped out to a quick start nine games in.

The Tampa Bay Lightning‘s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, has some new faces this season and several of those players have already contributed to the Crunch’s quick start this season. Following their opening weekend victories over the Rochester Americans, Syracuse has gone 4-3 in the past seven games and currently sits in second place in the North Division.

Forward Gabriel Dumont, who signed with the Lightning organization via free agency last summer, leads the team in goals (4) and is tied for first in points with eight overall. In addition, he has 22 shots on goal and is shooting at an 18.2 percent rate.

Not too far behind him in goals is forward Cory Conacher, who returned to the team after spending a few years outside the organization following the trade with the Ottawa Senators in 2013, as he has scored three goals and tacked on five assists.

In goal, netminder Adam Wilcox, the Lightning’s sixth round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, has taken more of a starting role with Syracuse this season after posting a 4-2-0 record, 2.32 goals against average and .907 save percentage in six starts.

In comparison to Wilcox, though, Kristers Gudlevskis, who is considered an NHL-caliber backup, has struggled a bit early on, despite earning two wins.

As of today, Gudlevskis has a 2-1-0 record in four games played, and from there his stats don’t get any better. Along with those wins, he has a 3.91 goals against average and a .829 save percentage, both of which are generally considered below-average to poor numbers.

Some of have speculated that Gudlevskis’s confidence may be “shot” in a sense, especially after goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy swooped in and ascended to the NHL-level quicker than he did. Or maybe it’s because Wilcox is performing better at the moment and may earn more starts as the season goes along. Who knows what it is, but hopefully he’ll get back on track and continue to develop.

Aside from that, the Syracuse Crunch look to be heading in the right direction, and following their 2-1 victory over the Utica Comets on Saturday, they’ll take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers this Friday at 7 p.m. in Syracuse, New York. It should be an interesting match-up, as the Sound Tigers, the AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, also have 12 points and sit in sixth place in the conference.

Continue to follow Bolts By The Bay for more updates on the Syracuse Crunch, as we’ll try to have weekly updates surrounding the Tampa Bay Lightning’s AHL affiliate. The Crunch have a promising roster in place and hopefully, they’ll be able to clinch a playoff spot later in the year and make a deep run in the postseason.