Analyzing the Rangers affiliate Wolf Pack schedule next season

Hartford Express (CT Transit)

The American Hockey League along with teams across league revealed the 2018-19 schedule format for each club.  The season will begin on Friday, October 5th and concludes in early April. 

Earlier in the week, Hartford revealed their schedule format.  In comparison to last season, there is one minor tweak.  The Wolf Pack will face the Binghamton Devils four times instead of two.  The number of games against Springfield will decrease from 12 to 10.

Unfortunately, Hartford will not face the Cleveland Monsters despite the franchise moving to the Eastern Conference.  The 76 game schedule for Hartford will be finalized in July.

Schedule Format

Bridgeport- 10 (5 home, 5 away)

Springfield- 10 (5 home, 5 away)

Providence- 10 (5 home, 5 away)

Charlotte- 8 (4 home, 4 away)

Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton- 6 (3 home, 3 away)

Hershey- 6 (3 home, 3 away)

Lehigh Valley- 6 (3 home, 3 away)

Binghamton- 4 (2 home, 2 away)

Rochester- 4 (2 home, 2 away)

Utica- 4 (2 home, 2 away)

Belleville- 2 (1 home, 1 away)

Laval- 2 (1 home, 1 away)

Syracuse- 2 (1 home, 1 away)

Toronto- 2 (1 home, 1 away)

Rival Games Emphasized

The games featuring Springfield, Bridgeport, and Providence will be huge once again for Hartford.  That is 60 points on the line.  Those 60 points will matter if the club wants to get in post-season action.  Winning the season series against the local rivals possibly makes or breaks their playoff chances.

Last season, Hartford did not fare well with Bridgeport or Springfield.  In a 12 game season series with the Thunderbirds, Hartford went 4-6-1-1.  Against Bridgeport in 10 games, the Pack went 3-6-1.  Just between those two rivals, Hartford lost huge points.

Looking at the Providence series in 10 games, Hartford went 4-4-1-1.  As a result from those season series, Hartford missed the playoffs by 18 points.  The 18 points could have been made up against all three season series at least to give the club a fighting chance.  Then giving up points to other teams in the North Division that are weak hurt Hartford as well.

The biggest component to next season I can tell is winning the season series against your rivals.  If the Pack are able to win the season series of each rival, then they will give themselves a legitimate chancet for a post-season berth.  The league makes the rivalry games a critical component for every team.  Losing to your rival is a four point swing, and all the points on the line are valuable depending on a team’s situation.

Why Hartford Play Teams Frequently?

The American Hockey League’s schedule is based on maximizing weekend dates for clubs along with reducing the expenses of travel.  Playing teams within the division is frequent and out of conference play is uncommon.  The budget for travel can be costly for clubs.  In order for each team to be financially viable, or ensure their parent clubs are not paying much for travel, the league makes sure travel is not crazy.

A western conference team will not travel to the east, unless there is an agreement between both clubs on travel.  From Hartford’s standpoint, many teams are close enough where the travel is not bad.  It would be nice to play every team or different teams, but the expenses incurred would not be ideal for these clubs.  The New York Rangers pay for the expenses for Hartford such as travel.

However on the development standpoint, playing variety of teams and traveling further would help prospects develop as they would face different situations and learn to adapt to travel far distances for games.  Perhaps Hartford will travel to Cleveland, Ohio to play the Monsters after this upcoming season.  It depends on the willingness of Hartford to travel and pay for the expenses involved.