Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly: Playoff hopes dimming with crucial week ahead

Gustav Rydahl
Gustav Rydahl celebrates win with Dylan Garand (Photo: John Mrakovcich / Hartford Wolf Pack)

There are 14 games remaining in the Hartford Wolf Pack season and their bid to make the playoffs. Despite making roster improvements via trades, the Pack have found themselves short of wins. In fact, Hartford has not won a game since their dominant 9-0 victory against the Islanders on March 4th.

Looking ahead, Hartford’s biggest week of the season could potentially be here as the club will face Bridgeport for two critical games. As the standings tighten in the Atlantic Division, the Wolf Pack will have to focus on the final playoff spot.

Entering the week, Hartford is three points behind Bridgeport for sixth in the division. Although because the Islanders own the tiebreaker between the clubs, Hartford is essentially four points away from being in a playoff spot.

The Wolf Pack are also in the midst of a four game losing streak (0-3-1) and are now 5-3-1-1 in their last ten outings. Stated recently, the Rangers have an organizational goal for Hartford to make the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs. The coaching staff along with the roster could be on the hot seat depending how the club perform rest of the season and where they land in the standings.

If they can’t break their eight season playoff drought, then Rangers GM Chris Drury could be revamping the organization from top to bottom.

Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly

Dylan Garand
Dylan Garand keeps his eye on the play for the Hartford Wolf Pack (Photo: John Mrakovich/Hartford Wolf Pack)

Standings Update

Entering the week, the Pack are 24-23-4-7 for 59 points, 3 points behind the Bridgeport Islanders for sixth.

We are beginning to see a lot more separations from the top three teams in the Atlantic, followed by the mid and bottom tiers. From Hartford’s perspective, they’ll have to focus only on the sixth spot in their division. The top three spots are out of reach, without a question as each respective clubs have a high number of points. Providence is in first with 78 points, followed by Hershey in second with 75. Charlotte is third with 72 points.

Fourth and fifth place are deadlocked at 68 points between Springfield Thunderbirds and Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Bridgeport Islanders are holding down the final playoff spot at 62 points.

Hartford continues to close in the standings against Bridgeport in recent weeks. Four games remain in the season series between the clubs. Currently, Bridgeport is winning the season series through eight games by a 5-3 margin. Essentially, Hartford has to take three of the next four games.

In last place, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton continue to struggle and are four points behind. If Hartford can get points, then the Penguins should not be a worry. If not, then the club has to be careful as the Penguins are within striking distance if they get a few wins under their belt.

Playoff Primer

Hartford’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot is at 32. The strength of the remainder of the schedule stands at .674. To keep an eye on the playoff race, Bridgeport’s magic number is at 26 and their strength of the remainder of the schedule is at .666.

As we approach another week with three games tap, check out the 2023 playoff primer below:

Wolf Pack rough patch

In Hartford’s last four games, several negative issues have emerged. The first noticeable struggle are the team’s defensive woes as they’ve given up 21 goals while only scoring on nine. A lot of these issues have to do with the recent additions via trade that are trying to acclimate themselves.

Louis Domingue has hit a rough patch in net recently after playing exceptionally well this season. However, in the team’s last game against the Toronto Marlies, Domingue was focused and bounced back stopping 31 of 34 shots. The Marlies are the best team in the Eastern Conference and Hartford was able to manage to collect a point in Toronto.

Dylan Garand appeared in the game against Rochester on March 10th and was pulled after struggling to stop the puck. The Wolf Pack lost the game by a score of 8-4. I expect him to bounce back when he is given his next opportunity.

Hartford’s offense has found ways to produce just not at the same clip. The Wolf Pack were shutout on March 3rd and March 8th, both by the Springfield Thunderbirds. The group still needs time to adjust with the new forwards. In addition, things should improve with the return of Jonny Brodzinski after his brief call up to the Rangers

The penalty kill is taking a hit in the last four games. The unit gave up four power play goals in the seven opportunities for Rochester on March 10th. The Thunderbirds converted on both of their opportunities on March 8th. The one positive is that Hartford gave up no power play goals to Toronto despite four chances. The penalty kill ranks 22nd in the league, operating at 79.9%.

On the power play, that has cooled once again. Hartford is ranked 31st in the league, operating at 15.3%. The club also gave up a shorthanded goal against Springfield.

Wolf Pack Notes

Adam Clendening Immediate Impact

Since joining Hartford at the trade deadline, the 30 year-old defenseman is making an immediate impact. Despite recent struggles by the team’s defense, Clendening has provided sound play in his own zone and has contributed to Hartford’s offensive game.

The veteran has secured four assists in his first six games with Hartford with his ability to create plays due to his nifty passing skills. His experience in the locker room will also help the young defensive core and push Hartford towards a playoff spot.


  • Defenseman Cooper Zech was assigned to Jacksonville ECHL on March 9th. The prospect did not play a game in Hartford after being acquired at deadline.
  • Jonny Brodzinski returned from call up on March 11th. The forward was up since March 6th.

One Timers

  • Congrats to Will Lockwood on securing his first goal with Hartford on March 11th against Toronto.
NOTE: Original goal was credited to Cuylle. It was changed to Lockwood.
  • Hartford will be home heavy for the remainder of the month. Of the eight games remaining in March, six will be at the XL Center. The two away games are against Bridgeport and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
  • Hartford will face Bridgeport twice this week and Springfield three times within the next two weeks.

Wolf Pack Upcoming Games

Wednesday, March 15th vs Bridgeport Islanders (New York) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the ninth of 12 meetings in the season series. Hartford is 5-3 against Bridgeport thus far.
  • Entering the week, Bridgeport is 27-23-7-1 for 62 points. That ranks the group sixth in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders are 6-4 in the last ten games and are 3-2 in the last five.
  • Veteran Chris Terry leads the Islanders in points with 56. Through 53 games, Terry has 18 goals and 38 assists. He is ranked eighth in the AHL for points. Forward Andy Andreoff is second for points with 46. Through 55 games, the center has 25 goals and 21 assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Friday, March 17th vs Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the ninth of 12 meetings in the season series. Hartford is 2-4-0-2 against the Thunderbirds thus far.
  • Entering the week, Springfield is 31-21-2-4 for 68 points. That ranks the group fourth in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. Springfield is on a three game winning streak and are 7-3 in the last ten outings.
  • Veteran Martin Frk leads the Thunderbirds in points with 53. Through 53 games, Frk has 26 goals and 27 assists. He is ranked 12th in the AHL for points. Experienced forward Matthew Highmore is second for points with 52. Through 55 games, Highmore secured 15 goals and 37 assists. He is ranked 16th in the league for points.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, March 18th vs Bridgeport Islanders (New York) at 7pm, Total Mortgage Arena

  • This is the 10th of 12 meetings in the season series.
  • This is the sixth and final visit to Bridgeport this season. The last two meetings will be held in Hartford.
  • 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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