Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly: Three games left to make playoffs

Hartford Wolf Pack
Keith Kinkaid (Photo: Kelly Shea / Hartford Wolf Pack)
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The completion of the 2021-22 season is around the corner for the Hartford Wolf Pack. Three games remain for the group after completing their seven game road-trip, which yielded three of a possible 14 points.

Struggles in the second half of the season continue entering the last week of play for the Wolf Pack. However, despite the continual losses, Hartford has the possibility to reach the playoffs as long they win this weekend.

Currently, the Bridgeport Islanders are in the last playoff spot with two games remaining. Both clubs will face each other on Saturday which is a do-or-die contest for Hartford. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms also have hopes for a playoff spot, but face an uphill battle being last in the Atlantic Division and have work to do to jump the Wolf Pack.

Wolf Pack watch

If Hartford fails to quality for the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs, this will be considered a significant collapse. For a season that had great promise, the team fell hard and fast in the last three months.

You have to wonder if changes will occur, from the coaching staff to the roster. A lot is on the line for everyone in Hartford and this weekend will put them all to the test.

The Wolf Pack’s last appearance in the Calder Cup Playoffs was in 2015.

Playoff Scenarios

There are a few possibilities as we enter the last three games for the club. The best scenario is Hartford winning all three games, which essentially would bump Bridgeport from their spot. However, depending on the situation with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Hartford may have to hope that the Phantoms drop a couple of their games. Keep in mind that the season ends on April 30th and they have games remaining once this week concludes for Hartford.

If Hartford drops their biggest game of the season on Saturday against Bridgeport, that could be the final nail in the coffin. Any losses on Friday against Charlotte or Sunday against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, they could be in a decent spot as long Bridgeport drops their Friday game against Springfield and Hartford wins on Saturday.

You can check the daily updates in the American Hockey League’s Playoff Primer.

Offensive Struggles

The group’s offense has dried up throughout their road-trip. Hartford has been held off the scoresheet in 5v5 action for nine periods. That has to end this upcoming weekend. Hartford managed to score two power play goals in that span.

The Pack’s once potent power play has tailed off. However, the unit has produced goals as of late to help jump start the offense again. The downside is they still make careless mistakes and gave up a short-handed goal recently.

Group Struggles

In addition to offensive woes, the defense had hiccups in recent weeks. The penalty kill is weak and has become unreliable. Opponents have capitalized on Hartford’s weaknesses, especially with the unit’s confidence low.

Opponents have solved Hartford’s style of play and the Wolf Pack continue to play catch up in all three areas of the zone. The slump involves the roster as a whole and hopefully they break out as a bunch this weekend. The goaltenders can only do so much to keep the group in games, especially when offense is lacking.

Wolf Pack Notes

Hartford Wolf Pack
Wolf Pack new additions Maxim Letunov and Bobby Trivigno (Photo: Kelly Shea / Hartford Wolf Pack)

Entering the weekend, Hartford has dropped three straight games. The club was unable to secure any points out of the possible six last weekend. They are also 1-8-1 in the last ten games and 3-16-2 in their last 21 outings.

The month of April has been harsh for the group. Thus far, Hartford is 1-7-1. March had a record of 4-8-1 while February saw them go 5-4-1. These last three months are why their playoff probability took a huge nosedive.

One Timers

  • The power play is ranked 17th in the league, operating at 19.2%. Hartford gave up 13 short-handed goals this season, which ties them for first in the league of doing so (Rochester also has 13).
  • The penalty kill is ranked 25th in the league, operating at 78.2%. Hartford has given up 51 goals while short-handed (15th in AHL).
  • Hartford’s home record is 19-12-2-1 thus far at the XL Center.
  • The away record is 11-19-4-1 thus far with one game remaining on the road.

Wolf Pack Upcoming Games

Hartford’s last three games on the docket is a three in three weekend.

Friday, April 22nd vs Charlotte Checkers (Florida) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the sixth and final meeting in the season series. Hartford is 1-3-1 against the Checkers thus far.
  • Entering the week, Charlotte is 40-24-5-1 for 86 points (.614). That ranks the group second in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference. Charlotte is 6-2-1-1 in their last ten outings. The group lost two straight (0-1-0-1) entering Friday’s contest.
  • Panthers forward Alexander True leads the Checkers in points with 42. In 58 games, True collected 18 goals and 24 assists. Panthers prospect Cole Schwindt is second in points with 40. Through 70 games, he collected 19 goals and 21 assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, April 23rd vs Bridgeport Islanders (New York) at 7pm, Total Mortgage Arena

  • This is the tenth and final meeting in the season series. Hartford is 6-2-0-1 thus far against Bridgeport.
  • Entering the week, the Islanders are 30-29-7-4 for 71 points (.507). That ranks the group sixth in the Atlantic Division and 12th in the Eastern Conference. Bridgeport is 5-4-1 in the last ten games. In the last five, the club is 3-2.
  • Veteran Chris Terry leads the Islanders in points with 57. Through 59 games, Terry collected 29 goals and 28 assists. He is ranked 16th in the AHL for points. Vetearn Otto Koivula is second in points with 47. Through 56 games, he collected 12 goals and 35 assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Sunday, April 24th vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh) at 3pm, XL Center

  • This is the sixth and final meeting in the season series between the clubs. Hartford is 2-2-1 against the Penguins thus far. This is Hartford’s last game of the season.
  • Entering the week, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is 33-29-4-4 for 74 points (.529). That ranks the group fourth in the Atlantic Division and tenth in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins are 6-4 in the last ten games and won two straight.
  • Penguins prospect Valtteri Puustinen leads the club in points with 40. In 68 games, the prospect collected 20 goals and 20 assists. Veteran Alexander Nylander is second in points with 38. Nylander played in 62 games, with 23 in Rockford (eight goals, four assists) and 39 with the Penguins (12 goals, 14 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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