Hartford Wolf Pack vs Providence Bruins AHL Playoffs Preview

Hartford Wolf Pack
Hartford Wolf Pack on a run. (Photo: John Mrakovcich, Hartford Wolf Pack)

On Sunday, the Hartford Wolf Pack advanced to the Atlantic Division Semifinals at Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte. By defeating the Checkers 3-1, they rallied to win their best-of-3 series after dropping the opening game.

The New York Rangers AHL affiliate continue to play strong hockey as of late, securing wins in their last six of eight contests. What adds to the impressiveness of this playoff victory was that all three games took place in Charlotte.

Looking ahead, the Wolf Pack will be facing the Boston Bruins’ AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins in a best-of-5 series beginning Wednesday on the road. But first, let’s quickly recap their first-round series.

Wolf Pack Series Recap: Downing the Checkers

In Game 1, Hartford dropped a 3-1 decision as the club gave Charlotte a shorthanded goal in a tight contest. Riley Nash scored the lone goal for the Pack, but Dylan Garand was spectacular stopping 38 of 40 shots which was a good indication of what was to come.

Facing elimination in Game 2, Hartford took care of business. The club generated numerous high quality chances throughout the night eventually beating Spencer Knight several times. Alex Belzile scored the overtime winner for a 3-2 win. Nick Petan and Ryder Korczak were the other goal scorers as Garand stopped 30 of 32 shots.

Game 3 was a winner takes all scenario that saw Hartford skate away with a decisive 3-1 victory. The stunning upset over the Checkers began with rookie Jaroslav Chemlar opening the scoring. Nash recorded the game’s second goal, followed by Brett Berard extending the lead to 3-0 in the third. Garand was brilliant once again making 38 saves to advance the Wolf Pack.

Related: Brennan Othmann injured against Checkers

Hartford Wolf Pack vs Providence Bruins Preview

Dylan Garand Credit: Hartford Wolf Pack

Here’s the full series schedule:

  • Game 1: Wed, May 1st at Providence, 7:05pm, Amica Mutual Pavillion
  • Game 2: Fri, May 3rd at Providence, 7:05pm, Amica Mutual Pavillion
  • Game 3: Wed, May 8th vs Providence, 7pm, XL Center
  • Game 4: Fri, May 10th vs Providence, 7pm, XL Center*
  • Game 5: Sun, May 12th vs Providence, 3:05pm, Amica Mutual Pavillion*

*If needed

Regular Season Series Recap

Previewing this series, Hartford will have another tough battle ahead of them as they face the 2nd place Providence Bruins (Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference).

The Bruins secured a bye week skipping the opening round thanks to their strong regular-season finish with a 42-21-6-3 record for 93 points. They are a well rested team as their last game was on April 21. Of course, rust could be present in Game 1 and give Hartford an opportunity to grab a lead in this series.

On another positive note, Hartford was solid against the Bruins in the season series with a 5-4-1 record. The Wolf Pack are 3-2 at the XL Center against the Bruins and 2-2-1 at Amica Mutual Pavillion.

Goaltending Preview

Boston Bruins prospect goalie Brandon Bussi will be in net against Hartford. In the season series, Bussi appeared in five games against the Wolf Pack, posting a 1-1-1 record. However, he was pulled in their last two meetings. Through 41 games, Bussi posted a 23-10-5 record with a 2.67 goals against average and a .857 save percentage.

If Providence wants to take Bussi’s recent performance against the Pack into account, they could turn to Michael DiPietro. He appeared in 30 games during the regular season, posting a 18-9-2 record with a 2.51 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. Against the Pack, he recorded three wins in five tries.

For Hartford, Dyland Garand will continue to start for Hartford. He has played well in the opening round, stopping 101 of 106 shots. Heading into this, the Pack have the edge in net thanks to his 1.63 goals against average and .953 save percentage.

Scouting the Opponent

Providence has a dynamic and potent forward group that does it all. In his second year in the AHL, 23-year-old forward Georgii Merkulov led the Bruins in points with 65 (30 goals, 35 assists) in 67 games ranking 5th in the league. During the season-series, he potted four goals in nine games.

Veteran Forward Jayson Megna is another player to keep an eye on. A former Ranger, Megna has the offensive capabilities to give Hartford trouble. Through 69 games, Megna recorded 19 goals and 37 assists for 56 points. He made his presence known throughout the regular-season series notching nine points (three goals, six assists) in 10 games.

On defense, Hartford will face a tough group. Reilly Walsh leads the Bruins’ blue-line in points with 28 (nine goals, 19 assists) in 60 games. For muscle, Hartford will have to compete against Dan Renouf and Ian Mitchell.

Special Teams

The Bruins have struggled on the power play throughout the season. Providence is ranked 17th in the league with the man advantage, recording a 18.1% conversion rate. The Wolf Pack on the other hand have a better power play, operating at 19.3%. The Wolf Pack were ranked 12th in the regular season with the man advantage.

The penalty kill for Providence is also below average ranking 22nd in the league, and operating at 80.2% down a player. The Wolf Pack have the advantage here with a success rate of 83% and ranked 14th in the league.

Wolf Pack Notes

  • Rookie Brennan Othmann left the game late in the second period on Sunday as he was boarded from behind.
  • Riley Nash, Brett Berard, and Nic Petan led Hartford’s offense against Charlotte. Each player recorded three points in the series.
  • Ryder Korczak recorded a two points (one goal, on assist) in Game 2.

Game Coverage

Live game coverage will be featured on X via Milliner06. For broadcast and radio, radio announcer Alex Thomas will have you covered on AHLTV and Mixlr. Broadcasts will begin at 6:50pm for each game.

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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