Depleted Hartford Wolf Pack fighting to maintain playoff positioning

Wolf Pack protect the crease (Photo:John Mrakovcich / Hartford Wolf Pack)
Wolf Pack protect the crease (Photo:John Mrakovcich / Hartford Wolf Pack)

The Hartford Wolf Pack are struggling thanks to a number of injuries to their lineup and the New York Rangers.

In last week’s action, they were only able to collect two of six available points, with their lone victory coming against the Bridgeport Islanders. Hartford is in the midst of six games in eight days as the group will play three straight from Wednesday to Friday.

New York’s affiliate is playing .500 hockey going 10-10 in their last 20 games. While there is room for improvement, the Wolf Pack have remained consistent enough to maintain 4th place in the Atlantic Division, posting a 25-16-5 record through 46 games.

Hartford enters the week with a 2 point cushion ahead of the 5th place Charlotte Checkers and are 4 points ahead of 6th place Springfield (the final playoff spot). Hartford is still expected to get into the playoffs as they have a 8 point buffer against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Let’s dive into the latest news around the Pack.

Related: Kaapo Kakko coming on

Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly

Hartford Wolf Pack set to battle
Hartford Wolf Pack ready for face-off (Photo: Calvin Spohn / Hartford Wolf Pack)

Injuries Piling Up

The Wolf Pack lost two additional players to injury over the weekend. On Friday against Laval Rocket, prospect Bobby Trivigno left the game in the first period after a collision along the boards. According to Hartford’s broadcaster Alex Thomas, the forward will be out week-to-week with an upper body injury.

On Sunday against the Providence Bruins, the defense suffered a blow as Connor Mackey was hurt early in the game. Similar to Trivigno, Mackey did not return and there is no timetable for his return. Additional updates will be provided once available.

Currently, the Wolf Pack have 6 players injured:

  • Ben Harpur (Out for season)
  • Zach Berzolla (Week to week: last game played was on 11/25)
  • Riley Nash (Week to week: returned on 1/19 and was re-injured in the same game)
  • Matej Pekar (Week to week: last game played was on 1/20)
  • Bobby Trivigno (Week to week)
  • Connor Mackey (TBD)

Wolf Pack sign Blade Jenkins

As a result of these injuries, Hartford elected to sign forward Blade Jenkins through a Standard Player Contract (SPC). Jenkins is a 23-year old forward that split time between the AHL and ECHL. Prior to joining Hartford, Jenkins led the Worcester Railers in points (45). Jenkins collected 20 goals and 25 assists in 46 games. The forward also has experience in the AHL as he spent time with the Bridgeport Islanders as well periodically in the last 3 seasons.

Power Play Remains Cold

One prominent struggle over the weekend is Hartford’s power play. Despite being ranked 4th (21.4%) in the AHL, the two units continue to have breakdowns and are unable to set up for any offense. Even with Brennan Othmann and Brett Berard healthy, they are unable to carry the ship on the man advantage. The Wolf Pack were 0 for 15 in the last 3 games.

Looking Ahead

Twenty six games remain for the squad with each point becoming more critical to collect. From Hartford’s standpoint, they will have work to do if they want to jump to 3rd or 2nd in the division. The Wolf Pack are 4 points behind the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and 10 points back of Providence. Hartford does have 4 games in hand on both clubs.

In approximately a month, the annual Calder Cup Playoff Primer will become available as we count down the number of points that Hartford will need to clinch a spot. While there are concerns for the roster, the deadline could be a critical element to close holes. Last season featured a solid deadline for Hartford, where they were able to bulk up and go on a solid playoff run.

One Timers

  • Brennan Othmann is ranked 6th among rookies for points in the AHL. Through 43 games, he recorded 13 goals and 21 assists for 34 points. Othmann is ranked 11th among rookies for goals and 8th for assists.
  • Bett Berard continues his solid rookie season. Through 46 games, he recorded 16 goals and 15 assists for 31 points. The rookie had points in 7 straight (4 goals, 4 assists). Berard is ranked 4th among rookies for goals and 3rd among the group for game winning goals (5).
  • Brandon Scanlin re-signed with the Rangers last week with a 2-year deal. The 24-year old is in the midst of his 2nd full season with Hartford. Scanlin provides additional depth for New York and has impressed with his strong 2-way game. The prospect does the little things right and is part of the key cogs on Hartford’s blue line.
  • Tyler Pitlick recoded his 1st assist with Hartford on Friday.
  • Veteran Artem Anisimov was released from his Professional Tryout (PTO) on Tuesday. Through 18 games, Anisimov recorded 1 goal and 3 assists. The veteran struggled and was not impactful on the roster.

Hartford Wolf Pack Schedule

Wednesday, February 21st vs Bridgeport Islanders (New York) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the 8th of 10 meetings in the season series. Hartford is 6-1 against Bridgeport. The ninth meeting will return to Bridgeport on February 17th.
  • Entering the week, Bridgeport is 15-26-6-1 for 37 points. The club remains last in the division, conference, and league. The Islanders are on a 4 game point streak (2-0-1-1).
  • Islanders prospect Ruslan Iskhakov leads the club in points with 35. Through 47 games, the forward collected 13 goals and 22 assists. Veteran Otto Koivula is second on the roster for points with 27. Through 39 games, Koivula registered 9 goals and 18 assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Thursday, February 22nd vs Cleveland Monsters (Columbus) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the 4th and final meeting in the season series. Hartford is 2-0-1 against the Monsters. Hartford’s lone loss to Cleveland was at the XL Center on 12/6 (4-3 overtime loss).
  • Entering the week, Cleveland is 29-15-2-2 for 62 points. That ranks the group 1st in the North Division and 3rd in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland is on a 4 game point streak (3-0-0-1). However, they are 4-4-1-1 in the last 10 games.
  • Forward Try Fix-Wolansky leads the Monsters in points with 46. Through 44 games, the forward collected 16 goals and 30 assists. He is ranked 4th in the AHL for points. Defenseman Jake Christiansen is 2nd for points on the roster with 33. Through 44 games, the defenseman has 12 goals and 21 assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Friday, February 23rd vs Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis) at 7:05pm, MassMutual Center

  • This is the 7th of 10 meetings in the season series. Hartford is 3-3 against Springfield thus far. The next meeting for the clubs will be on March 29th.
  • Entering the week, Springfield is 23-20-3-2 for 51 points. That ranks the group 6th in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. Springfield is 5-5 in their last 10 outings.
  • Veteran Adam Gaudette leads the Thunderbirds in points with 41. Through 43 games, the forward collected 25 goals and 16 assists. Matthew Peca is 2nd for points on the roster with 39. Through 47 games, Peca recorded 12 goals and 27 assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Ricky Milliner is a Hartford Wolf Pack season ticket holder. While growing up, he discovered hockey by attending a... More about Ricky Milliner

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