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Chirping the Bench: Uncle! We Call Uncle!

Tarkki has an eye on the Crunch's fading playoff hopes.
Tarkki has an eye on the Crunch's fading playoff hopes.

I wish I had good news to bring. But things are getting kind of bleak around here.

Our owner is basically taking the only line he can in all of this: that we should try to stay optimistic, that nothing is too out of our reach yet. That we can do this, that we have a good team (which we do), that they will develop the attitude they need to get to where we got to go (highly debatable at this point).

And really, who can blame him? What is he going to say? Batten down the hatches and stay home, Crunch fans, it's all downhill from here! No, of course not. He still has a business to run, he still has to make money somehow, so he's going to take the high road, the positive rode, and try to keep our morale up. I don't blame him for this, but at some point, some kind of realism is also needed. The time for that realism looks to be now, unfortunately.

I'm here to declare our playoff run dead. If the team turns it around and proves me wrong, then I'll never be more glad to be incorrect. As you'll see, there is still reason to hope, but it's very slim and getting smaller every day.

Record (W-L-OTL-SOL): 22-25-4-4

Divisional standing: 4th

Conference standing: 14th (same as last update, top 8 make playoffs)

Can the Crunch still make it?: Mathematically, yes. The Crunch has 21 games left this season, which means we have 42 points still up for grabs. Looking at the conference right now, I'd say it's a safe bet to assume that a team will need at least 80 points to make 8th. Our play-by-play announcer has predicted it's probably closer to 85, but obviously it's too soon to be really exact there so I'll be a little more generous. The Crunch has 52 points. If we win 14 out of our final 21 games, we've got a pretty good shot. Manage to get 15, 16, 17 wins, it looks even better. However, those wins will have to come at the expense of some of the league's best, including 2nd place St. John's twice, 5th place Hershey once, and, maybe most importantly, 8th place Albany 4 times. [Ed. Note: Sound familiar?? Oy!]

Top producer: Patrick Maroon, 55 pts. (25-30), 7th in the league

Top goal scorer: Kyle Palmieri (31 goals, number one in the league)

Roster moves during the past two weeks:

  • Riley Holzapfel (C) was added to the Crunch roster as a result of a trade that sent Maxime Macenauer (C) to the Winnipeg Jets organization.
  • Nick Schaus (D) was returned to Elmira of the ECHL, only to be recalled back to the Crunch for this past weekend, as Mat Clark (D) is out with a foot injury. Clark is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.
  • Nate Guenin (D) was recalled to the Ducks and then later returned to the Crunch.
  • John Kurtz (LW) was returned to Elmira of the ECHL.
  • Jeff Deslauriers (G) was exchanged for Iiro Tarkki (G), with Deslauriers going back to the Ducks after getting in some minutes and Tarkki returning to the Crunch.
  • Devante Smith-Pelly (RW) was recalled to the Ducks upon the completion of his conditioning assignment.
  • Ryan O'Marra (C) was added to the Crunch roster after a trade that saw the hated Bryan Rodney (D) shoved off onto the Oilers organization. There was dancing in the streets and wine poured from the heavens like rain when this trade was announced. This move clearly isn't making any profound strides to save our season, but at least I don't have to expend so much energy hating one player every night.
  • Kyle Cumiskey (D) was recalled to the Ducks. Clark picked an awful time to go on the injured list. my assumption is that he could have seen some time up instead of Cumiskey. Cumiskey was returned on Trade Deadline Day, without seeing any ice time with the big club.
  • The Deadline, while quiet for the Ducks, brought some movement on the Crunch front. Toronto traded Dale Mitchell (RW) to Anaheim in exchange for Mark Fraser (D). At first this move didn't really make sense--Mitchell spent almost the entirety of this season in the ECHL, while Fraser has been a major boost to our blue line--but then the other shoe dropped...
  • ...and Andrew Gordon (RW) went to VAN for Sebastian Erixon (D). Basically, these moves did two things: clear up the logjam of vets the Crunch was experiencing (every AHL team can only dress 5 vets a night, so we had our vets on a healthy scratch rotation) and let ANA drop some rather expensive contracts that weren't working out like they had hoped. Gordon was a rather large disappointment this year, and I think the Ducks expected more out of Fraser than to have him sitting in Syracuse.