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Chirping the Bench: Valley Low

Holy crap.

Since the last time we all talked, many people affiliated with the organization have come out to say what I did, that the only way this team is making the post season is if they decide they want to. Howard Dolgon was interviewed on Sports Radio 1260, and basically called the entire team onto the carpet for not having the frame of mind that a playoff team needs. If you don't have time to listen or the audio link doesn't work for some reason, you can find a summary of what he said on my blog, Chairman How's Glorious Army. If you're wondering more about the 07-08 Crunch team he references repeatedly, I did an entry here last year that covered what happened with that team and what they accomplished. Obviously, given our current situation, the comparisons to that group are flying like crazy right now.

So, what exactly is our current situation?

Well, to be frank, we're about as low as a team that's supposedly in the playoff hunt can get. We're in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. The Crunch haven't won a game since I last wrote for this site. The only players showing any kind of life on this team are new addition Antero Niittymaki, recently loaned from the San Jose organization, Kyle Palmieri, who thankfully didn't miss more than one game with a foot injury, Patrick Maroon, Mat Clark, and Peter Holland. Everyone else is listless and uninspired. They look like they're already in the off season.

A few games ago, the Crunch lost in OT after Bryan Rodney stepped aside and allowed free reign at a rather rusty Jeff Deslauriers. Everyone in the building knew the game was over as soon as they saw that Rodney was our last line of defense, and sure enough the Crunch went home crying. Palmieri and Holland sat on the bench for close to a minute after that, just hanging their shaking heads, wondering how the Crunch had managed to blow a two-goal lead and then lose.

It's sad that the main people crap like this hurts are the players who are actually trying. To be fair to the coaching staff, I really believe they're doing everything they can. Judging from players' comments on Twitter, the practices these past two weeks have been hell. They're working these guys, trying to make them see that they can't play like they are and expect to get rewarded by easy practices. Rodney was a healthy scratch Saturday and Sunday for the first time all season, something I believe was done to send a message. Yes, we have a bit of full bench on D right now, but to scratch our only offensive defenseman is a clear message to him. He's hurting his team.

Unfortunately, Rodney isn't the only one. The vets on this team are invisible. After having a few games where two goal leads were blown, the Crunch's offense has withered again. The team has had four games in a row where only one goal has been scored--one by J. F. Jacques, one by Rick Schofield, one by Kyle Palmieri, and one by Peter Holland. What's wrong with this picture? Even Devante Smith-Pelly, down on a conditioning assignment, has been limited to one assist in four games despite his obvious speed and conditioning. The team's low mood is completely dragging down everyone. We are below .500 for what I believe is the first time this year. It's at least the first time in recent memory.

Someone needs to step forward and say that enough is enough, before it's too late.

Record (W-L-OTL-SOL): 19-22-4-3

Divisional standing: 4th

Conference standing: 14th (one down from last update for the third time in a row, top 8 make playoffs)

Top producer: Patrick Maroon, 49 pts. (22-27), 7th in the league

Top goal scorer: Kyle Palmieri (26 goals)

Roster moves during the past two weeks:

  • Nate Guenin (D) was recalled to the Ducks with the end of the All Star break. He would later be returned.
  • Mark Bell (C) was recalled to the Ducks with the end of the All Star break. He would later be returned.
  • Kyle Palmieri (RW) was recalled to the Ducks and then returned.
  • Jean-Francois Jacques (LW) was recalled to the Ducks to serve his final suspension game and then returned.
  • Josh Brittain (LW) was added to the Crunch roster from the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL.
  • Jeff Deslauriers (G) and Iiro Tarkki (G) were exchanged, with Deslauriers coming down to get a few games in and Tarkki going up to the Ducks to back up Hiller.
  • Devante Smith-Pelly (RW) was assigned to SYR on a 14-day conditioning assignment. At the end of it, he will either go back to the Ducks or head to juniors, as his status makes him ineligible for AHL playing time.
  • Antero Niittymaki (G) was added to the Crunch on loan from the San Jose organization. As a side effect of this move, Marco Cousineau (G) was returned to the CHL.