Despite spending more than a decade as defensemen, the pair was signed and turned into forwards. A dozen games into their rookie seasons, Olson and Nielsen are getting acclimated with the position change with the Syracuse Crunch.
“At first it was a little different, I wasn’t really sure what to expect or what to think about it,” Nielsen said. “But the more I play it, the more comfortable I feel and actually enjoy playing on the front end -- getting in front of the net and going into the corners as opposed to playing defensively.”
In his first taste of professional hockey last season, Tanner Richard learned the importance of being versatile.
The Syracuse Crunch forward started his first game on the fourth line, but was promoted to the top line after a mid-game injury. The lines shuffled a few more times, and after reinforcements were sent for the team’s Calder Cup run, the 20-year-old fresh out of junior was back to a grinding line to finish out his eight-game stint.
Although he was a playmaking first-line center with the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm, Richard has become acclimated with his role changing on a game-to-game or shift-to-shift basis.
Cedrick Desjardins stopped 32 shots during regulation and overtime, as well as three out of four shootout attempts, but the Syracuse Crunch fell to the Albany Devils, 2-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
"Cedrick was the reason we got one point tonight," said Syracuse coach Rob Zettler. "We gave up a number of Grade A chances, including breakaways and point blank shots that we normally don't give up...He came up huge for us."
"We battled hard, gave everything we've got," Desjardins said. "But we fell a little short."
CDJ bested in a goaltender's duel.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 1 goal on 33 shots before allowing 1 of 4 shooters to convert to take the shootout loss.
ALB Scarlett, (1) (Whitney, Boucher), 17:55 (PP)
SYR Kucherov, (13) (Cote), 18:19
Desjardins was the game's second star.
Both goaltenders played really well and it took a laser from Kucherov to get anything at all on Kincaid. These games happen over the course of the year. The key is to not start cutting it too fine on your chances or overpass just because you've had a little scoring block.
The Crunch are off until Friday when they'll face Hamilton.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins jumped out to an early lead and held on to snap the Syracuse Crunch's three-game win streak, 5-3, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
The Penguins scored three times in the first period against Crunch goalie Riku Helenius, who played in his first game since being injured Oct. 19.
"I thought we were rolling a little bit in the first period, and I felt good about it," said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. "Then they had a goal, and boom-boom, they followed it up with a couple more."
Callups/blueline injuries help crush Crunch.
Riku Helenius allowed 5 goals on 27 shots for the loss in his first start back from injury.
WBS Despres, (3) (Mikkelson), 2:26
WBS Megna, (4) (Despres, Gibbons), 11:23
WBS Conner, (6) (Despres, Gibbons), 19:44 (PP)
SYR Namestnikov, (8) (Kucherov, Cote), 7:29
WBS Kostopoulos, (5) (Harrington, Ebbett), 12:55
SYR Rankin, (5) (Paquette), 19:41
WBS Gibbons, (6) (Conner, Zolnierczyk), 1:41
SYR Gauthier, (2) (Namestnikov), 10:38
Vladislav Namestnikov was the game's third star. It was kind of a perfect storm against Syracuse with Korobov up in Tampa and Taormina and Nesterov out, along with the top line auditioning a new winger with Brown up and Helenius possibly a little rusty in his first start back. Life in the minors. They'll build off the fact they won the final 40 minutes of the game 3-2. They face Albany tomorrow.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Danick Gauthier's expected stay with the Syracuse Crunch was one game.
Sent down to the ECHL Florida Everblades at the beginning of the season to find his confidence and improve his work ethic, the 6-2 forward was brought back earlier this month to temporarily fill a space in the lineup.
"He showed up and he played well," said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. "We thought we'd give him another chance and he continues to play well."
Gauthier has made the most of his latest opportunity. The 22-year-old registered three points in his first four games with Syracuse, and has earned a shot on the Crunch's top line alongside Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov.
With JT Brown called up to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Syracuse Crunch started the process of finding a fill-in on the top line.
Cedric Paquette was the first to audition for the spot at practice Tuesday. The Lightning's fourth-round pick in 2012 certainly fits the mold - a gritty, defensively-responsible forward able to play on the left side.
"I like him because he goes in and he's a little bit dirty, as far as going into corners, getting pucks and digging out pucks," said Syracuse coach Rob Zettler.
But Zettler didn't rule out trying out other players before a pair of home games this weekend.
In the wake of the rash of injuries suffered in yesterday afternoon's game in Boston, the Tampa Bay Lightning have announced they recalled RW J.T. Brown and D Dmitry Korobov from Syracuse of the AHL. Brown and Korobov are two of the team's older, more tenured prospects in the system and both will look to get an opportunity to test their progress against NHL competition. Here's what to expect from each player:
Lightning fans should be a little familiar with J.T. Brown given he had a short 5-game stint with the Lightning in the 2011-2012 campaign after signing as a free agent out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Brown has exceptional speed, above average skill, and willingness to stick his nose in on the forecheck despite possessing a slightly built frame. He looked to have a spot in Tampa Bay heading into the 2012-2013 season before the lockout and injury problems took his career track on a detour. Playing in Syracuse, Brown has since adopted to more of a two-way role playing on a checking line with Mike Angelidis in last year's deep playoff run, and in a complimentary winger's role as his alter ego, "J.T. Brownov," playing alongside Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov on the Crunch's top line so far this year. His grit and heavy shot are assets on that line. Brown's selection may mean that Alex Killorn will slide over to center and also signals that Jon Cooper may choose a more defensive-minded, two-way approach to dealing with the team's post-Stamkos injury reality.
Dmitry Korobov (pictured) will be looking to get his first taste of NHL action after signing as a free agent in the summer of 2012. Prior to joining the Lightning organization, the Belarusian Korobov gained a significant amount of experience playing for Dinamo Minsk in Russia's KHL. Last year, Korobov played on the top-two pairings for Syracuse for much of the season, and with Syracuse's youth movement along the blueline he's taken on an even greater role this year with the Crunch. Standing at 6'3" 230 lbs, Korobov's most obvious assets are his size and strength. He does not shy away from the physical game and does enjoy pursuing the big hit. He also has underrated puck-moving skills as demonstrated by the 22 points he put up with Syracuse last year to go along with a very solid +20 rating. Like Radko Gudas, Korobov is a fan of the hip-check. Korobov's weaknesses are that his skating, while adequate, sometimes suffers from sloppy footwork in his stop-starts and pivots and like any young defenseman, his decision-making sometimes isn't 100% spot-on. With the Lightning's lack of depth at this particular position, and Mark Barberio and Keith Aulie already struggling to begin with, Korobov has a golden opportunity right now to move up the depth chart quickly and make his case to stay in the NHL.
Still the kings of Norfolk.
Cedrick Desjardins stopped all 19 shots he faced for the shutout and the victory. After the game, Syracuse sent Kristers Gudlevskis down to Florida of the ECHL after Riku Helenius suited up for the backup role tonight.
SYR Namestnikov, (6) (Brown, Nesterov), 5:36 (PP)
SYR Paquette, (4) (Cote, Korobov), 10:25
SYR Tyrell, (3) (Angelidis, Walker), 11:13
SYR Namestnikov, (7) (Paradis, Gauthier), 12:48
Can the Syracuse Crunch win games where Nikita Kucherov doesn't appear like a rash all over the scoresheet? They did tonight. Can they get secondary scoring? They did tonight. Can they keep shots and chances down and keep the puck out of the back of their net? They did that all weekend. They answered a lot of lingering questions about their own legitimacy as a team and, in the process, have taken over the top spot in the East Division. They're still 2 points shy of the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand on Manchester.
The Crunch move on to face Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.