It has been a while since Montreal’s AHL team made the playoffs but that changed last week with the IceCaps clinching a playoff spot. Here’s a closer look at their first round matchup against Syracuse.
Syracuse – 1st in North Division, 38-24-7-7 record, 232 GF, 227 GA
St. John’s – 4th in North Division, 36-30-8-2 record, 216 GF, 220 GA
Syracuse: 16.4% PP (22nd), 83.7% PK (8th)
St. John’s: 19.2% PP (10th), 80.4% (24th)
The two teams met up on eight separate occasions this season and it featured a little bit of everything. There were some tight low scoring games while there were some high scoring affairs as well including a 7-5 games the IceCaps dropped early in the year. Overall, the two sides split the games with Syracuse outscoring St. John’s 28-26.
1) Cory Conacher (17-43-60)
2) Matt Taormina (15-45-60)
3) Yanni Gourde (22-26-48)
4) Erik Condra (15-33-48)
1) Chris Terry (30-38-68)
2) Charles Hudon (27-22-49)
3) Nikita Scherbak (13-28-41)
4) Jacob de La Rose (14-17-31)
How Syracuse Can Win
– The Crunch are loaded in depth up front. No fewer than six forwards were returned from Tampa Bay towards the end of the season and as a result, there’s a strong case to be made that their fourth line is better than what the IceCaps have as a second unit. Accordingly, they have the potential to be able to exploit St. John’s bottom six to bolster their attack.
– Jake Dotchin finished the season playing alongside Victor Hedman for the Lightning and has the ability to be an effective shutdown blueliner. It remains to be seen who he’ll exactly be paired with but it’s likely that he’ll be lining up against the Terry line on a regular basis. If he’s as effective as he was with the big club, St. John’s one real threat is going to be in tough to score and it’s doubtful the supporting cast can pick up the slack.
How St. John’s Can Win
– Charlie Lindgren has shown himself to be capable of stealing some games for the IceCaps throughout the season. If he gets into one of his hot streaks at the right time, he’s capable of swinging the fortunes of the series on his own.
– Chris Terry and Charles Hudon had a quieter fourth quarter of the season after absolutely lighting it up. However, they remain one of the most lethal duos in the entire league. They’ve shown that they can carry the offence before and if they can both get on a run, they could make things interest.
Although the records aren’t that far apart and the head-to-head was pretty well even, I think Syracuse heads into this series with a major advantage in the talent department. St. John’s may be bolstered on the back end with the additions of Victor Mete and Noah Juulsen but that’s an indictment on their back end if two junior players is considered an upgrade. Against what is now a very deep Crunch attack with all of their late additions (many of which weren’t there in the St. John’s victories), this is a serious problem, one that it seems highly unlikely that they’ll be able to overcome.
It’s nice that the playoff drought is over but this is shaping up to be a pretty quick exit. I’d like to think the IceCaps can eke out a win but I just can’t see it happening unless Lindgren stands on his head. I think the Crunch take this in a three game sweep.
April 21: Syracuse vs St. John’s
April 22: Syracuse vs St. John’s
April 26: St. John’s vs Syracuse
April 28: St. John’s vs Syracuse
April 29: St. John’s vs Syracuse