In what was a reversal from the previous night (10/27) in every way, the Amerks played two great periods of hockey, but let a win slip away with a disappointing third period. As it should have been, playing a complete 60 minutes was a major theme in the post game press conference. Although it was a very disappointing divisional loss, there were definite positives. I thought Goers and Guhle played fantastic, and Sahir Gill extended his goal-scoring streak to 3 straight games.
Among others, I was extremely impressed by the performance of Kyle Criscuolo. The new addition has been a big time player for the Amerks, and was even sporting the Alternate Captain patch against the Crunch. Fittingly, I am going to rate him an A-.
Offensively, Criscuolo had a good night, extending his own goal-scoring streak to two. He did so after making a phenomenal forechecking play that directed a breakout pass on net. He drove the net hard and elevated the rebound over a sprawled goaltender. The net front turned into a place of residency for him on the night as he was designated to set up screens on the first power play unit. Despite his small stature, I thought he did a great job, even though he wasnâ€™t able to tip anything past the goalie (it would be nice to see Fasching able take advantage of his size in that role). Kyle also did a good job in the face-off circle going a combined 12 for 18.
Defensively, Criscuolo was absolutely amazing. He was a complete pest in the forechecking game, creating countless turnovers. 51 was equally impressive backchecking, and was able to poke a few pucks right back to defenders and then start the breakout in the opposite direction. While short handed, he won several key draws and was able to make zone entry difficult by cut off shooting lanes on the point. Unfortunately, he did have a couple of lapses in the defensive zone where he lost track of his man, and Syracuse was able to punish those mistakes.
Overall, Criscuolo has turned into a massive piece with the Amerks this year. He is centering a top 6 line and contributing to both sides of special teams. Hopefully, when some skill players return to the lineup, he wonâ€™t need to handle such a heavy load on both sides of the puck. One thing is for sure; he is earning the A that has been placed on his sweater.