Hartford Wolf Pack on a Cinderella run to Calder Cup?
The Hartford Wolf Pack are in the middle of what could be a Cinderella run to the AHL’s Calder Cup.
After a late push that got them into the playoffs in the closing weeks of the regular-season, Hartford is one win away from eliminating the Providence Bruins, who finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference.
So can the Pack go all the way? We asked Patrick Williams of theAHL.com just how far he thinks they can go.
“I could see them getting through the East,” said Williams. “I think their main obstacle will be the Hershey Bears if that’s how things unfold. Once you get to the West, the Calgary Wranglers are absolutely loaded. That’s where I can see the run falling short, but if they get that far it will be a fantastic experience for the Rangers’ prospects.”
The Bears won their series versus the Charlotte Checkers on Thursday night and are awaiting the winner between the Pack and Bruins.
Hartford Wolf Pack Cinderella Run?
The Wolf Pack hadn’t made the Calder Cup playoffs since the 2014-15 season. After posting a record of 35-26-4-7, they finished fifth in the Atlantic Division by one point over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
A first round match up against the Springfield Thunderbirds, who owned the Pack during the season was on tap first. Hartford wiped the floor with them, sweeping the best-of-three series.
Hartford opened up round two versus the Bruins by winning the first two contests decidedly but fell short in Game 3. They have a chance to advance tonight as they host Game 4.
While many doubted the Pack could make noise in the postseason, their captain was extremely confident.
“Everybody is buying in and striving towards that goal,” Jonny Brodzinski said. “Everybody in the locker room and the entire organization thinks we have a lineup that can go deep in the playoffs.”
Brodzinski, 29, split time between the Pack and Rangers this season but was instrumental in March to lead the team to the Calder Cup Playoffs. In 46 games, he recorded 21 goals and 47 points. He’s now back with the team for the rest of the postseason after the Rangers were eliminated by the Devils in round one.
As to why the Wolf Pack are in this position, Williams credits Rangers management for adding key players with experience near the trade deadline.
“The Pack got a real shot in the arm when they saw the Rangers step up and bring in veterans,” Williams explained. “Will Lockwood is a great two-way forward. Bringing in an agitator like Anton Blidh and a veteran power play guy like Adam Clendening… getting that talent infusion just made a big difference.”
Anton Blidh was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Gustav Rydahl. The 27 year-old forward played in 14 NHL games this season with the Avs registering no points but was huge in the Pack’s playoff push with 11 points in 17 games.
Will Lockwood was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks in the Vitali Kravtsov deal and the forward recorded 12 points in 17 contests since the trade.
On defense, Wyatt Kalynuk, was solid for the Pack with 2 assists in 15 games. The 25 year-old helped settle the blue-line along with Cooper Zech and Adam Clendening.
Zech was acquired in the Patrick Kane trade and registered 2 points in 13 games. Veteran defender Clendening is no stranger to the Rangers organization playing 31 games for them during the 2016-17 season. He had 9 points in 20 games since coming from the Rockford IceHogs in an AHL deal.
These players are all bringing a new dynamic and rounding out a talented roster that featured top prospects like Dylan Garand, Will Cuylle and Zac Jones. Together this group may very well win it all and give this franchise their second title since the 1999-2000 season.
“It’s just a different group with a different mentality,” Willams concluded. “Pack teams of the past were almost expected to lose. Now it’s the opposite and they’re finding ways to win.”