Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly: Adversity hits Rangers affiliate early

Through four games, the Hartford Wolf Pack are 0-2-1-1 as the club enters the third weekend of the season.

While the record indicates a rough start, the Wolf Pack have come close to securing wins. For instance, Hartford clawed their way back from a 3-0 deficit on opening night against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to lose the game in a shootout by a score of 1-0 for the 4-3 loss.

The club nearly had their first win in Charlotte after playing well against the Checkers. Once again, Hartford lost by a score of 4-3. However, they earned a point and dropped the game in overtime. The other two games had costlier mistakes which the group did not recover from.

The wins will eventually come for this talented club. The four games played begin to provide a sample of strengths and weaknesses. Fans should not worry about the team as there are plenty of games remaining on the docket.

Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly

The Weaknesses

The defensive core is a weak spot for the group. Hartford has two experienced defensemen on the roster to help mentor the Rangers prospects on the blue line.

Ben Harpur joined the team prior to the start of the regular season through a Professional Tryout (PTO). He essentially replaced Jarred Tinordi, who was claimed on waivers.

Andy Welinski provides additional experience to the d-corp and brings in additional help on offense.

However, the rest of them must learn from situations and adapt well to adjustments made by the opposition. They’ve given up 3+ goals a game thus far to mistakes that were due to positioning and not reading the play right. This has led to far too many odd-man rushes.

While the offense has been good, they should not require 3+ goals a game to have a chance at winning.

On the goaltending side, Louis Domingue and Dylan Garand have played well despite the losing records. Hartford has good goaltending they just need consistency on defense.

Call it a lack of chemistry with so many new players, but turnovers are another issue with the club.

Elaborating on chemistry further, Hartford is still looking for the right line combinations. There’s plenty of potential for the Wolf Pack, it’s just a matter of time until the group finds their magic.

The Strengths

Hartford’s offense has been reliable in their four games thus far. They create dangerous chances and give the opponent’s defensemen difficulties in their own zone.

The Wolf Pack are willing to shoot the puck and have shown the ability to create stellar plays and make impressive shots. They can pressure well and have the ability to generate a good chance on the odd man rushes.

In addition to the offense, Hartford’s power play has sparkled early on. In 15 opportunities, the Wolf Pack have converted on four. The group has shown they can work well on the man advantage, setting up nicely in the o-zone and able to screen the goalie or outsmart the defense.

Hartford has also experimented with having four forwards and one defenseman out there. They have the personnel to do it but are taking a risk if the play goes the other way.

The penalty kill has also been a plus. Hartford has taken a good number of penalties early on. However, the unit is able to kill it off and help transition from defense to offense. While having strong special team units is beneficial, the downfall of Hartford is the number of penalties they take in a game. They have to be better disciplined.

Will Cuylle’s Development

Hartford Wolf Pack Will Cuylle
Will Cuylle takes to the ice for the Hartford Wolf Pack (Photo: Hartford Wolf Pack/Calvin Spohn)

A promising prospect, Will Cuylle continues to show a strong effort and a solid game at both ends of the ice. The talented forward registered two goals and one assists through four games. He has points in the last three of four, continuing to show consistency and that he deserves playing important minutes in a game.

Cuylle’s offensive prowess continues to be shown and is boosted further by the presence of Jonny Brodzinski and Julien Gauthier. The latter has just been called up by the Rangers.

On the defensive side, Cuylle has strong positioning and is disciplined in his own zone. He blocks the passing lanes, attempting to help Hartford transition from defense to offense.

His game defensively is simple. If he’s not on the scoresheet, the prospect continues to contribute to the roster. You will have to keep an eye out for Cuylle making a move to the big club, as he continues to evolve into a stronger player.

Matthew Robertson Leads Hartford

The young defenseman enters the weekend leading the Wolf Pack on offense with four points (all assists).

After being assigned to Hartford early on in training camp, Robertson has shown a strong game offensively. He has helped to set up Hartford’s huge goals to get back in each game. The big defender has a pair of two assist games to his credit this season.

Ironically, both games he recorded points was when Hartford brought the game to overtime to earn a point.

The 21 year-old has certainly upped his game from last season offensively. However on the defensive aspect, he has work to do along with the rest of the d-group. Robertson has shown strides and I expect that to continue, especially in his own zone.

First Recall of Season

The first recall to New York for the 2022-23 season occurred on Wednesday afternoon as Julien Gauthier earned the call up after the injury of Vitali Kravtsov.

The veteran played strong in his four games with Hartford, registering two goals and gave Hartford additional firepower to the offense and power play. When the Rangers become healthier, I expect the forward to return to Hartford.

Opportunity for Bobby Trivigno?

As Hartford lost Gauthier, this will bring in an opportunity for another forward. Ryder Korczak and Bobby Trivigno have played in one game thus far.

Hartford currently has 14 forwards and Bobby Trivigno could return to the lineup this weekend. Another name that could return to the lineup is Austin Rueschhoff. The forward played in two games thus far. The competition for spots will be healthy as players will battle to get into the lineup.

Hartford will not call up a forward from Jacksonville (ECHL) after the loss of Gauthier.

One Timers

  • Turner Elson recorded points in three straight games (one goal, two assists). He was held off the scoresheet last Sunday against Bridgeport.
  • Jonny Brodzinski has points in three of four games (three assists). He enters the weekend on a two game point streak.
  • C.J. Smith had two impressive goals last Saturday against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He can snipe.
  • Andy Welinski recorded points in the last two of three games (two assists).

Hartford Wolf Pack Upcoming Games

Hartford will play two games this weekend at home before playing two games on the road next weekend.

Friday, October 28th vs Hershey Bears (Washington) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the first of six meetings in the season series. Last season, Hartford won the season series with a record of 5-1. The second and third meeting of the season will be on November 19th and 20th in Hershey.
  • Entering the weekend, Hershey is 2-1-1 for five points. That ranks the group fifth in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. The Bears enter the game losing two straight (0-1-1) against Charlotte.
  • Forwards Mike Vecchione and Mason Morelli leads the Bears for offense. Both players recorded four points. Vecchione notched two goals and two assists while Morelli has four assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, October 29th vs Charlotte Checkers (Florida) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the third of eight meetings in the season series. Hartford is 0-1-1 against the Checkers thus far. The fourth and fifth meetings will be in Hartford on November 12th and 16th.
  • Entering the weekend, Charlotte is 4-0 for eight points. That ranks the group second in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. The Checkers remain undefeated entering the weekend. They will face the Providence Bruins on Friday.
  • Forwards Anton Levtchi and Riley Nash leads the Checkers in points with six. Levtchi recorded three goals and three assists while Nash notched two goals and four assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.