Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly: Struggles continue for NYR affiliate
The Hartford Wolf Pack continue to struggle as they dropped two games last weekend leading to the team’s woes.
After strong outings two weekends ago, the club found themselves dismantled by Springfield (5-1 loss) and Bridgeport (5-3 loss). As a result, the Wolf Pack found themselves in a hole early on this season with a record of 2-4-1-1 for 6 points in the Atlantic Division. That ranks the group last (eighth) in the division and 15th (also last) in the Eastern Conference.
As of Monday, Hartford is ahead of two clubs in the American Hockey League. To put the standings into perspective, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms are seventh in the division a point ahead of Hartford. The final playoff spot at sixth in the division belongs to Springfield. The Thunderbirds secured 11 points, which puts Hartford behind by five points.
The Wolf Pack play Springfield on Wednesday in a huge 4-point swing contest.
While the season is early for Hartford, there has to be a sense of urgency before they get too far behind the standings. The hill will never get easier to climb as the season progresses.
Considering the off-season moves for the Wolf Pack, they are in an spot that fans did not expect.
Hartford Wolf Pack Weekly
Defensive Struggles Costs Group
The Wolf Pack gave up 10 goals in two games after allowing only four goals in two games in the last weekend of October. Comparing the last two weekends, the results are night and day.
As I discussed previously, Hartford’s defense has to be consistent. They found their game two weekends ago which resulted in wins. This past weekend was the opposite, as the defensive core was not well positioned, giving Springfield and Bridgeport glorious chances to convert on.
In Saturday’s game, similar struggles continued. The Wolf Pack gave up a shorthanded goal and two power play goals over the weekend. The defense has to bounce back and find their game quickly before the catch up game becomes a steep hill to climb in the upcoming months.
Wolf Pack Missing Identity
Through eight games, Hartford continues to not have an identity. After winning two games, the club was going in the right direction to build on their success. Unfortunately, this past weekend did not go well.
Every team has an identity and at this time it’s hard to pinpoint just what that is for the Pack.
What are the Wolf Pack aiming for? Are they a scoring team or a defensive team? Are they hard to play against? Just what are they?
In the competitive Atlantic Division, majority of teams found their game, identity and are rolling. Hartford has the talent in all aspects and could be in a better spot. They have to find their identity, focus, and be able to compete against their opponents in close games.
The last two games for the Wolf Pack were a measuring stick contests.
The Bridgeport Islanders are off to a hot start with a similar team as last season. In fact, Bridgeport struggled significantly in the first half but eventually turned it bumping Hartford out of a playoff spot. The Wolf Pack dominated the season series last season, going 7-2-0-1. This season it’s the opposite as Bridgeport has played well against Hartford. In the two games thus far in the series, Hartford fell short by scores of 5-2 (10/23) and 5-3 (11/5).
Switching to the Springfield Thunderbirds, Hartford found themselves 5-6-1 against Springfield last season. Springfield continues to have a strong roster and superior talent, ranging from the Blues prospects to their veterans. Hartford was caught off guard early on in their first game against Springfield.
Hartford will have another crack at Springfield this week. Getting blown out by your two largest rivals is not ideal, especially when there’s a good chunk of points on the line.
Power Play Mishaps
Hartford’s power play units are one of the strongest assets the club has. However, the units cooled off last weekend and there were noticeable mistakes.
The group has given up two short-handed goals thus far utilizing four forwards and one defenseman on the ice. At times, in multiple games the play going the other way, which the goaltenders have to bail out the unit.
While they are scoring with the extra man, the high risk and high reward tactic may not be optimal for the club, especially with a young defensive core. It will be interesting to see if Hartford changes up the power play unit from one to two defenseman.
- Matthew Robertson returned to the lineup on November 5th against Bridgeport.
- Patrick Khodorenko remains out as he missed the last three games.
- Gustav Rydahl returned to the lineup on November 4th against Springfield.
- Matt Rempe gave Hartford their first fight of the season. Check it out!
- Turner Elson recorded points in two straight (one goal, one assist) and in the last six of eight. Elson has two goals and five assists to lead Hartford in points.
- Andy Welinski recorded two assists in Saturday’s game against Bridgeport.
- Tim Gettinger recorded one goal and one assist in Saturday’s game.
Hartford Wolf Pack Upcoming Games
Wednesday, November 9th vs Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis) at 7pm, XL Center
- This is the second of 12 games in the season series. Hartford dropped the first game by a score of 5-1 last Friday. The third meeting will be on December 22nd at the XL Center.
- Entering the week, Springfield is 5-4-0-1 for 11 points. That ranks the group sixth in the Atlantic Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference. The Thunderbirds 3-1-0-1 in their last five games.
- Forward Matthew Highmore leads the Thunderbirds in points with 12. Through 10 games, Highmore secured three goals and nine assists. Veteran Nathan Todd is second on the list in points with 10. Todd secured seven goals and three assists in 10 games.
- Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.
Friday, November 11th vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh) at 7:05pm, Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza
- This is the second of six meetings in the season series. Hartford dropped the first game by a score of 4-3 in the shootout on October 22nd. The third meeting will be on January 7th in Wilkes-Barre.
- Entering the week, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is 6-2-1 for 13 points. That ranks the group third in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins dropped their last two games against Hershey last weekend (2-1 on 11/5 and 4-3 on 11/6).
- Veteran Alexander Nylander leads the team in points with nine. In 10 games, the forward notched four goals and five assists. Penguins prospect Valtteri Puustinen is second on the team with three goals and four assists for seven points in 10 games.
- Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.
Saturday, November 12th vs Charlotte Checkers (Florida) at 7:30pm, XL Center
- This is the fourth of eight meetings in the season series. Hartford is 1-1-1 against the Checkers thus far. The fifth meeting will be the following Wednesday in Hartford.
- Entering the week, Charlotte is 5-2-1 for 12 points. That ranks the group fifth in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. The Checkers are 1-4 in their last five games.
- The Checkers have three players with seven points to co-lead the team in the points column. Veteran Zac Daple recorded five goals and two assists in seven games. Panthers prospect Logan Hutsko recorded four goals and three assists in nine games. Veteran Riley Nash secured two goals and five assists in nine games. The Penguins called up Filip Hållander on Monday evening and prior to the call up, he led the team in points with nine.
- Listen – Mixlr. Watch – AHLTV.