Chytil and Andersson ready to start a new journey as Pack season nears end

Andersson (NHL.com)

Ten games remain in the 2017-18 season for the Wolf Pack. Once the season is completed, I will provide a complete analysis of the Pack’s performance. Reflecting is never a bad thing to do.

For the most part,  the season was enjoyable and there is plenty to talk about.  This season also had a lot of “what ifs?”. What if the Rangers stayed healthy?  What if the Pack were able to close out games they lost?  Those what ifs will never be answered. The club could be in a different position today if other scenarios occurred.

Week in Review/Ahead

Last weekend, Hartford snapped a six game losing streak to win three straight.  The club won in a shootout against Lehigh Valley, 4-3 on Friday, then the Pack pulled out a 4-1 victory against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.  On Sunday, they muscled a 6-4 win against Rochester.

The Pack are still mathematically alive for playoff contention.  However, the mountain to climb is still tough considering Hartford has to win out, plus Charlotte and Bridgeport would have to lose all their games.

Hartford is back to .500 once again entering the upcoming weekend.  The club is 29-29-5-3 for 66 points.  That ranks them sixth in the Atlantic Division.  Bridgeport is in fifth for 70 points.  Charlotte is in fourth with 77 points.

Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson Ready For Experience With Rangers

With the Rangers having nine games remaining in the season, the club is looking at possible call ups from Hartford to give prospects a taste of the National Hockey League.  As reported by Larry Brooks and the New York Rangers Twitter account, Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson are candidates for call ups to finish the season with the big club.

Calling up both will not burn the first year of their entry level contracts, since they will play less than 10 games.  Both top rookies in Hartford did a lot in their time in the AHL. They both play center, and dealt with various situations for the Pack.

Offensively, both players are impressive.  Who has the edge?  Well, that is tough to answer.  I would give that to Lias Andersson at this time.  He has speed and a strong ability to establish plays or score when the chance it there.  Filip Chytil is able to light the lamp too and his love to shoot the puck will be loved in pass happy NY.

Filip Chytil is a great candidate for the skills competition that is the shootout. However, the one downfall with Chytil are his defensive reads.  The forward needs to work on that part of his game and needs to become more aggressive in his own end of the ice, cause traffic in the passing lanes and force turnovers for break outs.

Lias Andersson has lived up to his fierce competitor reputation.  On defense, he is able to force turnovers against opponents due his undying tenacity. If Andersson shows more willingness to get into those dirty areas, he will become a fan favorite in NY quickly.

As a whole, the first year on North American ice has been successful for both prospects.  The growth potential is through the roof for these kids.  Ranger fans will be impressed once they make their late season appearances.

Injury Updates
  • Adam Tambellini has sustained an upper body injury.  There is no status on his return.
  • Ryan Gropp suffered another injury.  The injury is lower body, regarding his right foot.
  • Brendan Smith could be out for the rest of the season.  He suffered a broken hand after a vicious slash on March 4th. That was made worse after a practice fight with teammate Vinni Lettieri.

Streaks

  • Cole Schneider has points in three straight games, and points in the last six of seven games.  In six games, the forward notched three goals and six assists for nine points.
  • Filip Chytil has points in three straight games.  He has two assists, one goal for three points.
  • Vinni Lettieri also has points in two straight, three goals.
  • Chris Bigras has found offense with Hartford.  The defenseman has points in the last three of four games, three assists.
  • Since joining Hartford through a professional tryout agreement, Simon Denis has points in three straight games, three assists.
  • Brenden Kotyk had two points (one goal, one assist) on Sunday against Rochester.
  • Gabriel Fontine has two assists in two games.
  • Dan Catenacci had one goal, one assist on Sunday.

Brenden Kotyk First Goal

You have to see the prospect’s first goal in the American Hockey League! The tall defenseman is enjoyable to watch.  He is able to play gritty, along the boards, and moves the puck well.

Marek Mazanec is Back

Marek Mazanec returned to the crease last Friday.  The veteran goalie was injured on January 19th.  He had a groin injury and was cleared.  Since returning, he is 2-0.  He won a 4-3 shootout victory against the Phantoms and looked impressive.  On Sunday he helped the club to win a 6-4 decision against Rochester.

Since Marek Mazanec’s injury, the Pack struggled in net.  Chris Nell, Brandon Halverson, and goalies through professional tryout agreements were unable to get the job done.  It was refreshing to see Marek Mazanec back.

Status With Greenville Swamp Rabbits Affiliation Agreement

After the 2017-18 season concludes, the Swamp Rabbits agreement with the New York Rangers and the Hartford Wolf Pack expires.  However, I would expect the Swamp Rabbits to extend the affiliation for additional seasons.  The New York Rangers organization has been with Grenville since the 2010-11 season.  Prior to joining with Greenville, the organization was with the Charlotte Checkers in the ECHL.  When the Checkers announced they were going up to the American Hockey League and become the affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, the organization looked for a new affiliate.

Upcoming Games

Saturday, March 24th vs Hershey Bears (Washington) at 3:00 pm, XL Center

  • The season series finish up this weekend as this is a home at home weekend series.  This is game seven.  Hartford is 1-3 against Hershey.
  • Chris Bourque of Hershey has been suspended three games for a boarding incident.  He is the top Bears forward.
  • Tyler Lewington of Hershey also has been suspended.  He is out for two games.  He will return on Sunday against Hartford.
  • The Bears are 27-30-4-5 for 63 points in seventh.  They have won the last four of six games.

Sunday, March 25th vs Hershey Bears (Washington) at 5:00 pm, Giant Center

  • The final game in the season series.
  • After the game, the Pack have eight games left.

Outlook Ahead…

  • After this weekend, Hartford will have six games at home and two on the road.
  • Opponents include:
    • Springfield (2)
    • Binghamton (2)
    • Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
    • Bridgeport
    • Providence
    • Lehigh Valley