Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly: New year, same struggles

Will Cuylle
Will Cuylle ready for action (Photo: John Mrakovcich / Hartford Wolf Pack)

The Hartford Wolf Pack are slated to complete the first half of the season after the conclusion of their 36th game on Sunday afternoon. As Hartford approaches the halfway point of their 2022-23 journey, the club is reaching a crossroads.

Entering Tuesday’s game against Charlotte, the Wolf Pack remain eighth (last) in the Atlantic Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference. Through 32 games, the Wolf Pack have compiled a 11-13-2-6 record for 30 points. However, there’s hope as Hartford is just five points away from a playoff spot, which is held by the sixth place Springfield Thunderbirds.

As a remainder, the American Hockey League expanded the playoff format last season. In Hartford’s division, the top six of eight teams qualify for a spot. The Wolf Pack missed last season’s playoffs by a point. While the club has work to do, time is starting to run out to overcome these gaps.

Hartford is on a midst of a four game road-trip before returning home on Saturday. This week will be pivotal for the club.

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)

The Wolf Pack enter tonight’s contest losing four straight (0-1-1-2). Even though Hartford has been generating points in the last three games, the club is giving up points to opponents within the division.

Offensive Struggles

One trend as of late is the club not being able to capitalize on their opportunities. For instance, the New Year’s Eve contest against Springfield featured a shootout loss to the Thunderbirds. The Wolf Pack had strong scoring chances in the third and overtime to get the go ahead goal to win the game and came up empty. Also in recent weeks, the power play has struggled which is contributing to the lack of offense. While the unit has converted only once over the weekend, they are improving gradually after going on a lengthy cold streak over the last month and a half.

Defensive Struggles

Defensively, Hartford has blown leads in the last three of four games. On December 28th, Hartford built themselves a 2-0, and then 3-1 lead before allowing Springfield to register six straight goals. As a result, the Wolf Pack lost 7-4.

Over the weekend, they once again could not hold on to a lead. Last Friday against the Utica Comets, Hartford dropped the game in overtime after losing a two-goal lead. Then on Saturday against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Hartford built a 3-0 lead before the Penguins tying it the third and eventually winning in overtime.

These losses are rough and for the youngsters and it’s hurting their confidence. The veterans like Ryan Carpenter have to guide the prospects in tough situations such as these.

After a slow start to the season, Hartford’s young defensive core bounced back and played well over a good stretch of November and into December. These last two weekends are big bumps in the road. It’s time for them to shake it off if they hope to make the playoffs.

Brandon Scanlin ups his game

The 23 year-old prospect had an impressive weekend. On the scoresheet, Scanlin has points in the last three of four outings (two goals, one assist). The defenseman has put quality shots on net and keeps his game simple doing the little things right.

When he is on the ice, the Wolf Pack are productive as he’s able to fend off opponents from generating quality chances on Hartford’s goaltenders. He has also helped the transition game with his fine two-way play.

Wolf Pack News and Notes

One Timers

  • Turner Elson’s production continues. The veteran recorded two assists over the weekend.
  • Will Cuylle has points in the last four of five outings (two goals, two assists).
  • Tanner Fritz has points in the lat three of four games (three assists).
  • Zac Jones has points in two straight games (one goal, one assist).
  • Ben Tardif recorded his first point with Hartford in Saturday’s game. The forward recorded an assist.
  • Zach Giuttari recorded two assists in Saturday’s game.

Wolf Pack Upcoming Games

Tuesday, January 10th vs Charlotte Checkers (Florida) at 7pm, Bojangles Coliseum

  • This is the sixth of eight meetings in the season series. Hartford is 1-1-1-2 against the Checkers. Hartford’s lone win against Charlotte was on October 29th in the shootout.
  • Entering the week, the Checkers are 18-12-2-1 for 39 points. That ranks the club third in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Checkers won two straight, their last four of five outings, and are 6-4 in the last ten games.
  • Experienced forward Riley Nash leads Charlotte in points with 27. Through 29 games, Nash recorded 12 goals and 15 assists. Panthers prospect Grigori Denisenko is second in points with 18. He has eight goals and 10 assists in 29 games.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Wednesday, January 11th vs Charlotte Checkers (Florida) at 7pm, Bojangles Coliseum

  • This is the seventh of eight meetings in the season series. Charlotte returns to Hartford on March 5th for the final meeting of the season.
  • In the last five years in Charlotte, Hartford is 1-10-2 at Bojangles Coliseum. Hartford’s lone win occurred last season.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, January 14th vs Providence Bruins (Boston) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the second of ten meetings in the season series. Hartford dropped the first meeting on December 3rd by a score of 3-1 in Providence. The Wolf Pack will face the Bruins six times in the next four weeks.
  • Entering the week, the Bruins are 20-7-5-2 for 47 points. That ranks the club second in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. The Bruins are 4-1 in the last five outings and 5-3-2 in the last ten.
  • Former Rangers forward Vinni Lettieri leads the Bruins in points with 28. Through 33 games, Lettieri has 12 goals and 16 assists. Bruins prospect Georgii Merkulov is second in points with 24. He has seven goals and 17 assists in 31 games.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Sunday, January 15th vs Providence Bruins (Boston) at 3:05pm, Amica Mutual Pavilion

  • This is the third of ten meetings in the season series. Hartford returns to Providence on January 22nd for the fifth meeting in the season series.
  • The Wolf Pack are 10-8-2-1 in Providence in the last five years.
  • 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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