Hartford Wolfpack Playoff Update: Week 2
The Cardiac Pack Attack
The Wolf Pack play-off push is starting to heat up. For the first time since early November, the Pack is out of last place in the conference, and they are streaking. Since last Friday, they’ve won two of three games and gained four points in the standings. But of course, nothing could be easy as the Wolfpack lived up to “the Cardiac Pack” nickname. On Friday, The Wolfpack blew a late lead, and gave up two goals in the final two minuets of the third to lose to Bridgeport 4-3. The next two game were eerily similar but produced the same results. On Friday the Pack were down 3-1 to Springfield entering the third, and were down 3-0 entering the second on Tuesday against Portland. Both times, Hartford came back and won 4-3, to keep the play-off push alive.
The Week Ahead
Hartford is entering the weekend with three huge games looming. On Friday the 28, the Pack host 9th place Hershey. Saturday and Sunday, Hartford and Portland will meet in a home and home series. Walking a way with six points, will be tough, but it is very doable, and with a little help, the standing could be turned upside down.
With a win Friday, and help from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton ( at Syracuse) Hartford could jump all up leap frog three teams and take over 11th place.
Other important games this weekend:
Saturday March 1: Worcester at Bridgeport. Providence at Springfield. Albany VS Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Sunday March 2: Utica at Bridgeport. Springfield at Worcester. Albany at ProvidenceSyracuse at Adirondack.
Keys to this weekend
Who steps up?: With JT Miller playing up in New York, and injuries to Danny Kristo and Ryan Bourque, the Pack are currently with out three pieces that made up the top line for a good chuck of the season. All eyes will be on Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast and TJ Hensik, to step up and lead the charge, but they can’t do it alone. Marek Hrivik has points in five of the last seven games (4 goals, 1 assist) including a three game point streak. Since his return to the line up three games ago Andrew Yogan has put up two goals and an Assist. For the pack to have any chance, they will need to produce.
Clean up the Defense: Despite being 6-3-0-1 over the last 10 games, the Wolfpack defense has been shaky at best. Giving up an average of 2.5 goals per game over the last 10. Even more alarming is the 3.4 GAA over the last five games. The top four of Dylan McIlrath, Connor Allen, Aaron Johnson and Danny Syvert are fine, but more production is needed from the 5/6 pair, and this all starts with Brendon Nash. When Nash is in the lineup, the WolfPack are simply a better team. Nash is very similar to Connor Allen, in terms of play and Skating. Nash has added consistency and talent to the bottom pair.
Fast Starts: If there is on thing we have learned, its that the Wolfpack are strong finishers, the problem is, sooner or later playing from behind all game will burn you. Sure, come back wins are exciting, but in order to pick up bundles of points, the Pack need to start fast, and play with the lead.
By Will Cullen