Some of the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s best young prospects had little trouble helping the Syracuse Crunch make quick work of both their first and second round opponents, and as a result, they are headed to the AHL’s Eastern Conference finals.
The Crunch are a perfect 7-0-0 in the playoffs right now. But that likely wouldn’t be the case if it weren’t for AHL MVP Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. Palat’s 15 points tie him with Oklahoma City’s Mark Arcobello for the scoring leadership, while Johnson’s seven goals and 14 points rank second.
Goaltender Cedrick Desjardins is heating up as well, notching a shutout in the Crunch’s Game 3 victory last Wednesday night. He’s started all seven games, putting up a 2.02 GAA and .916 save percentage.
Many Syracuse players saw time with the Lightning this past season, and with former Crunch coach Jon Cooper behind the Tampa Bay bench, it wouldn’t be that surprising if they found themselves on the 2013-14 opening day roster. Some of these guys were also part of the 2012 Calder Cup winning Norfolk Admirals team, meaning they have a legitimate chance at winning back-to-back AHL championships.
Although it’s not yet official, the Crunch will play the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Providence Bruins winner. The Bruins currently hold a 3-2 advantage in that series, with Game 6 set to take place Monday night. While the Lightning saw yet another season end in disappointment, another deep postseason run ought to give fans hope for an incredibly bright future.