Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly: Playoff push going down to the wire

Hartford Wolf Pack
Wolf Pack celebrate a goal Bobby Trivigno and Zac Jones fist bump. Photo: John Mrakovcich / Hartford Wolf Pack)

The Hartford Wolf Pack have eight games remaining in their push to make the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs. They are still out of the playoff picture by one point heading into action this week.

It’s all coming down to the wire as Hartford continues to chase the last playoff spot in the Atlantic Division (sixth). The group completed their final three-in-three weekend, collecting four of six points to maintain in playoff contention.

Last week’s action was a roller coaster ride. An epic 6-5 comeback win by scoring four in the final six minutes of the game on Friday against Springfield, followed by a disappointing 4-0 shutout loss to the very same thing. They closed the week with a 5-1 victory against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Time is limited and there is little room for error approaching the final three weeks of the season. The Wolf Pack will continue to have key games against opponents that are ahead of them. This week feature three games, with two critical contests against Bridgeport and Lehigh Valley.

Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly

rangers jonny brodzinski hartford wolf pack
Jonny Brodzinski (Photo: Kelly Shea / Hartford Wolf Pack)

Standings Update

Entering the week, Hartford is 28-25-4-7 for 67 points. That ranks the group in seventh in the Atlantic Division, 11th in the Eastern Conference, and 21st in the American Hockey League.

In the final playoff spot are the Bridgeport Islanders with 68 points and one less game played than the Pack. There are two games remaining in the season series between the clubs, with one on Wednesday followed by the final meeting on April 7th.

If the Wolf Pack secure a regulation victory, then they will leapfrog Bridgeport for the first time in months to be in a playoff spot. If Hartford drops the game in regulation or loses in overtime, that will greatly damage their chances.

Keep in mind that both clubs could be tied at the end of the season. It is imperative that Hartford win the season series and have more regulation victories than Bridgeport. Currently, Hartford has two less regulation win than the Islanders, who are currently blocking the Wolf Pack from ending a long playoff drought.

Five points ahead of Hartford for fifth place are the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. They are considered within striking distance as they’ll meet for the final time on Saturday.

Check out the latest standings here.

Playoff Primer

Entering the week, Hartford’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot stands at 18 points. They are eliminated from clinching regular season title and the division. Keep a close eye on the primer as the week progresses.

Will Cuylle Secures First Pro Hat-Trick

A big part of Hartford’s comeback last Friday featured a spectacular performance by rookie prospect, Will Cuylle. The forward had a four point game (three goals, one assist) and was instrumental throughout. His hard work and effort made it was one of his best games of the season.

Currently, Cuylle is tied for the team lead in points with Jonny Brodzinski at 41. Through 61 games, the prospect has collected 24 goals and 17 assists.

I expect Cuylle to compete strongly in training camp for New York next September. He is ready for the National Hockey League.

Captain Jonny Brodzinski With Five Point Game

Another player that was instrumental in the comeback win was Hartford’s captain. Brodzinski secured one goal and four assists to help guide the club to a win. In addition, the veteran is having a superb second half of the season and did not miss a beat, especially when he was in New York earlier in the season.

Brodzinski continues to show he’s a dominant offense force in addition to quality leadership. He’s the right guy to have in the lineup and locker-room during Hartford’s playoff push.

Brett Berard’s First Two Games

After signing an entry level contract with the Rangers last week, Berard joined Hartford through an Amateur Tryout (ATO) to finish his hockey season with the Wolf Pack.

In his first two games in the AHL, Berard had quiet outings doing little things right with his limited ice time. That’s to be expected from young and new players adjusting to the club in the late stages of the season. The forward was with Karl Henriksson and Matt Rempe (fourth line).

Wolf Pack Upcoming Games

Wednesday, March 29th vs Bridgeport Islanders (New York) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the 10th of 12 meeting in the season series. The series is tied at five apiece. The final meeting will be held on April 7th.
  • Entering the week, Bridgeport is 30-25-7-1 for 68 points. That ranks the club sixth in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders are 4-5-1 in the last ten outings and are 3-2 in the last five games.
  • Veteran Chris Terry leads the Islanders in points with 62. Through 58 games, the forward collected 19 goals and 43 assists. Terry is ranked 8th in the AHL for points. Andy Andreoff is ranked second on the team for points with 55. Through 60 games, Andreoff has 31 goals and 24 assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Friday, March 31st vs Providence Bruins (Boston) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the 9th of 10 meetings in the season series. Hartford is 4-3-1 against Providence thus far. The final meeting will be in Providence on April 8th.
  • Entering the week, Providence is 39-14-8-2 for 88 points. That ranks the group first in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. The Bruins are 8-2 in their last ten outings and are on a seven game winning streak.
  • Bruins prospect Georgii Merkulov leads the Bruins in points with 50. Through 58 games, the forward secured 23 goals and 27 assists. Former Ranger Vinni Lettieri is second in points on the roster with 42. Through 43 games, the veteran secured 19 goals and 23 assists.
  • Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, April 1st vs Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia) at 7:05pm, PPL Center

  • This is the fourth and final meeting in the season series. Hartford leads the series 2-1.
  • Entering the week, Lehigh Valley is 33-25-3-3 for 72 points. That ranks the group fifth in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. The Phantoms are 7-3 in their last ten outings. However, the club dropped the last three of five games.
  • Forward Tyson Foerster leads the Phantoms in points with 40. Through 58 games, Foerster secured 19 goals and 21 assists. Rookie Elliot Desnoyers is second for points with 39. Through 57 games, the prospect collected 21 goals and 18 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