Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly: Hot streak leads to AHL Playoffs

Dylan Grand Hartford Wolf Pack
Sep 26, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Dylan Garand (98) looks down during a game against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

The organizational goal is accomplished as the Hartford Wolf Pack snapped their seven year playoff drought last Saturday! For the first time since the 2014-15 season, the New York Rangers’ American Hockey League affiliate will get a taste of playoff action.

This was a long time coming, considering the disappointing ending to last season and Covid ending a the 2019-20 campaign early even though they had strong roster and were playing well.

What a roller coaster ride it’s been this season for Pack fans. Despite struggling and being on shaky ground in the first half of the season, Hartford competed well in the second half to produce winning results.

From every veteran and prospect, they pushed hard for a playoff spot all year long. The Rangers were serious about helping Hartford get into the post-season thanks to key deadline trades.

Finally, the blood, sweat, and tears paid off for a talented roster that kept pecking away in the standings. Considering all the adversity the roster faced through the year with call ups, it truly made Hartford stronger.

Hartford Wolf Pack make playoffs

louis domingue
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Turnaround Story

The turnaround began in December with Ryan Carpenter and Zac Jones joining Hartford.

After finding offensive sparks and reliable defense, further reinforcements came to enhance the roster. The captain, Jonny Brodzinski returned after having a two month stint in New York and lit it up in March.

Prospect Will Cuylle had a strong rookie season in the AHL, becoming dependable with production while providing grit and physicality. His development progressed further with the roster enhancements.

As the group was buzzing before deadline, the potential to upgrade players was possible. The Rangers front office made moves to enhance the veteran presence and protected key Wolf Pack players from being dealt.

Will Lockwood added key goal contributions to the lineup. In 15 games with Hartford, the forward collected five goals and seven assists. Anton Blidh recorded seven goals and four assists in 15 games with the group. For a veteran that is known for grittiness and physicality, the added offense was a pleasant surprise.

Wyatt Kalynuk provided further grit in the lineup, which Hartford needed and lacked options on the back end. Adam Clendening enhanced the veteran presence in the lineup after Andy Welinski was dealt. Jake Leschyshyn became another dependable center for Hartford, giving coach Kris Knoblauch additional options. After taking time to get the bolstered roster to jell, the results finally came. buoyed by Louis Domingue hot goaltending.

The final week of the regular-season is here with Hartford having two games remaining on the docket to prep for the playoffs. Hartford is on a seven game winning streak with victories in the last nine out of ten outings. Looking further out, the club has wins in the last 10 of 12 games. The Wolf Pack have also outscored their opponents by a margin of 32-9.

Wolf Pack Weekly

Standings Outlook

As of Monday, Hartford is 34-25-4-7 for 79 points in the Atlantic Division. That ranks the group sixth in the division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. Believe it or not, the Wolf Pack have an opportunity to go high as third place in the division.

Ahead of Hartford is Charlotte (5th), Springfield (4th), and Lehigh Valley (3rd). The clubs are ahead by a point. The caveat is the clubs have three games remaining, as opposed to Hartford’s two.

The Pack will have the ability to impact some of the standings movement as the group will play Springfield on Saturday, They can help themselves if they are able to secure a win against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday, who are last in the division.

Here’s a look at upcoming games for the week that will impact the standings. If Hartford has a way to secure home ice against a few teams, that would be beneficial.

Tuesday

  • Charlotte Checkers vs Hershey Bears at 7pm, Giant Center
    • A Hershey win would help Hartford.

Wednesday

  • Lehigh Valley Phantoms vs Bridgeport Islanders at 7pm, Total Mortgage Arena
    • A Bridgeport win would help Hartford.

Friday

  • Lehigh Valley Phantoms vs Charlotte Checkers at 7:05pm, PPL Center
    • Depends on outcome from earlier in week.
  • Providence Bruins vs Springfield Thunderbirds at 7:05pm, Mass Mutual Center
    • A Providence win would help Hartford.

Saturday

  • Charlotte Checkers vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at 6:05pm, Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza
    • A Wilkes-Barre/Scranton win would help Hartford.
  • Lehigh Valley Phantoms vs Hershey Bears at 7pm, Giant Center
    • A Hershey win would help Hartford.

Sunday

  • Springfield Thunderbirds vs Providence Bruins at 3:05pm, Amicia Mutual Pavilion
    • A Providence win would help Hartford.

For the latest standings in the AHL, click here.

Playoff Format

A lot has changed since the last time Hartford competed in post season. Check out the latest format below:

I will dive into further detail and specifics next week when Hartford’s run begin. Stay tuned for coverage of the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Wolf Pack Watch

Tanner Fritz Records Career High in AHL for Production

The 31 year-old veteran continues to have his best season yet. With two games remaining, Fritz has posted 10 goals and 33 assists for 43 points in 65 games. Fritz has a new career high in points, beating his previous career high from the 2016-17 season with Bridgeport. In that season, Fritz collected 19 goals and 23 assists in 63 games.

He continues to be a strong pickup for Hartford in his second year with the organization. Fritz signed through an AHL deal in the summer of 2021 and was extended a year last season. The center is making a case for himself to get re-signed this off-season. In addition to his offensive capabilities, he is well suited for face-offs and has a good two-way game. On defense and transition, Fritz supplements both aspects of the game in situations.

Check out this recent article on Fritz as well!

Bobby Trivigno’s Best Game of the Season

Last Saturday featured a great game by rookie Bobby Trivigno. The 24 year-old forward recorded three assists and helped set up sequences on each one. In addition to his nifty passing, Trivigno had a few offensive opportunities as well. Considering his limited time on the ice as he was on the fourth line, he was solid with a +4 rating.

Through 56 games, Trivigno has registered seven goals and 19 assists for 26 points.

Louis Domingue’s Win Streak Continues

The veteran has wins in his last eight starts after securing a victory last Friday against Bridgeport. Domingue continues to roll and is locked in. The goaltender is 21-12-8 with a 2.57 goals against average and a .909 save percentage with three shutouts as well. The Wolf Pack, similar to Domingue, are going on a hot streak at the right time. With two games remaining, I expect the veteran to play in one additional game before the playoffs.

Dylan Garand With Wins in Two Straight

The rookie has wins in his last two starts and is gaining further confidence. Garand notched a win last Saturday against Providence and a win on April 1st against Lehigh Valely. Both which were tough games.

Despite competing in high energy, fast paced games with points on the line, Garand has fared strong when in net. His development throughout the season has been noticeable. Add in the guidance of Domingue, Garand is in a great spot.

I expect the goaltender to play in one additional game as well. Garand is 13-13-3 with a 3.07 goals against average and a .893 save percentage. Garand has three shutouts.

One Timers

  • Jonny Brodzinski leads the team in points with 48. Through 43 games, Brodzinski has 21 goals and 27 assists.
  • Tanner Fritz has four points (one goal ,three assists) in the last two games.
  • Ryan Carpenter is another reliable veteran for offense. Carpetner has 21 goals and 21 assists in 49 games. He has goals in back to back games.
  • Elson has a four point weekend. He recorded one assist Friday, followed by a three point game on Saturday (two goals, one assist).
  • Will Lockwood’s point streak was snapped on Saturday. He had points in four straight prior to the last outing. Lockwood recorded three goals and three assists in that span.
  • Anton Blidh is on a five game point streak (three goals, three assists).
  • Karl Henriksson is on a two game point streak (one goal, three assists).
  • Jake Leschyshyn had a five game point streak snapped on Saturday. In that span, the center recorded three goals and three assists.

Wolf Pack Schedule

Upcoming Games

Friday, April 14th vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the sixth and final meeting in the season series. Hartford is 3-0-1-1 against the Penguins.
  • Entering the week, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is 26-30-7-6 for 65 points. That ranks the group last (eighth) in the Atlantic Division and 15th in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins are 2-4-3-1 in their last ten outings. The group snapped a seven game losing streak on Saturday against Bridgeport. In fact, the Penguins defeated the Islanders by a score of 8-2 and helped Hartford. As the Wolf Pack won their game in Providence, the Islanders had to lose in regulation in order for Hartford to clinch.
  • Forward Valtteri Puustinen leads Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in points with 56. Through 69 games, Puustinen has 23 goals and 33 assists. Drake Caggiula is second for points with 51. In 63 games, Caggiula has 22 goals and 29 assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, April 15th vs Springfield Thunderbirds at 7:05pm, Mass Mutual Center

  • This is the 12th and final meeting in the season series. Hartford is 3-6-0-2 against the Thunderbirds.
  • Entering the week, Springfield is 36-25-3-5 for 80 points. That ranks the group fourth in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Thunderbirds are 4-4-1-1 in their last ten outings and are on a three game losing streak (0-2-1).
  • Veteran Martin Frk leads the Thunderbirds in points with 64. Through 64 games, Frk has 30 goals and 34 assists. He is ranked 10th in the AHL for points. Matthew Highmore is second on the roster in points with 61. Through 66 games, Highmore has 19 goals and 42 assists. The forward is ranked 14th in the AHL for points.
  • 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