Wolf Pack Watch: First Struggles of Season

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Hartford completed their four-game road trip last weekend, going 1-1-0-2. In the lone Canadian trip, Hartford went 0-1-2. Despite collecting four of eight points, the Pack kept themselves afloat in the standings for first place in the American Hockey League. The Wolf Pack has a three-point lead in the division over the Providence Bruins and Springfield Thunderbirds, who are tied for second place behind Hartford.

First Regulation Loss

The Pack’s first regulation loss came on October 30th at Place Bell in Laval against the Rocket. The Wolf Pack dropped a 4-1 decision to start their Canadian trip.

Igor Shesterkin stopped 20 of 23 shots for his first loss in North America. Tim Gettinger had the lone goal. Steven Fogarty also had the only assist in the contest.

Laval’s three-goal outburst in the third killed Hartford’s chances of winning the contest as the game was deadlocked at one entering the final frame. Despite a poor performance in the first followed by a good outing in the second, Hartford had a chance to win the game. The culprit for the loss? The inability to capitalize on opportunities. Hartford had three power plays in the third to put the game away. Instead, they were unorganized and let Laval build on the momentum from killing their penalties, which eventually led to the Rocket scoring. This was not going to be Hartford’s night. If the Pack converted on their opportunities, we could still be talking about being undefeated in regulation. That is interesting to note, considering the team is in the midst of a three-game losing streak.

Hartford’s Losing Streak

The Pack enters the weekend with a run of 0-1-0-2. The losing streak tells a tale of two stories that are unfolding with the group. The first tale is that Hartford could still be undefeated if they were able to score in shootouts. In three shootouts, Hartford has yet to score a goal. During the team’s first regulation loss, if the Pack were able to bury their chances, especially on the power play, the first regulation loss could’ve ultimately been a win. All of these mistakes are costing Hartford points. This is okay because prospects must face adversity if the group wants to perform better in the latter stages of the season. If there is a lack of adversity early on, it may bite them in March or April.

The other story is the lack of scoring. After the call up of Filip Chytil, you could tell that Hartford was relying heavily on the prospect. Without him, the offense is missing a player to finish the plays. No one has stepped up to the plate offensively for Hartford. The offense has tapered lately and is not putting up points as they should be. The attack is beginning to be a weak spot for Hartford, which is a bit concerning, considering the roster moves done to bolster up the forwards.

Roster Moves

Matt Beleskey was injured in Saturday’s contest against Belleville. As a result, forward Ryan Dmowski was called up to Hartford on Sunday.

Ryan Gropp had his suspension lifted last Saturday and reported to the Maine Mariners of the ECHL.

After a three week hiatus of not playing, Gropp will have a hard mountain to climb if he wants to return to Hartford for another opportunity. Refusing to report will leave a bad taste in the mouths of Rangers’ management, as Gropp continues to plummet down the organizational depth charts.

Gropp must perform well, find his confidence, and also earn the call up to Hartford if he wants a second opportunity from the Wolf Pack. He will face competition against other forwards in Maine, and the scratched forwards in Hartford for a chance to play with the Pack.

The prospect is in the final year of his entry-level deal with New York. He has to impress and prove to the Rangers that he should stay. Otherwise, he will not be renewed, like we have seen in the past with players who did not develop, I.e., Adam Tambellini.

Ty Ronning Debuts in New Season

Another player who has struggled is Ty Ronning. He has two years remaining on his deal. After a year shuffling between Hartford and Maine that was riddled with injuries and struggles, Ronning is looking at a new direction for his development.

His first taste of the action was on October 30th against Laval. The prospect struggled on the ice and had a quiet game. Kris Knoblauch did not like the play of Ronning and has sat him for two straight games since. The season is still young, and hopefully, Ronning can have a breakout year with Hartford. He has upside still but was unable to produce magic at the AHL level.

One Timers

  • Joey Keane is 4th in the AHL for points among rookies. The defenseman has 8 points in 11 games.
    • Keane has goals in the last two games for Hartford. The prospect continues to impress, especially on the offensive aspect. On defense, he continues development and tries to learn from his defensive errors.
  • Steven Fogarty has points in the last 3 of 4 games with Hartford collecting two goals and two assists.
  • Cristoval Boo Nieves has two assists in the last four outings with Hartford.
  • Patrick Newell registered his first goal in the professional ranks on Saturday against Belleville. You can check out his goal here.
  • Nick Ebert had a goal and an assist against his former team on Saturday night.
  • Hartford’s penalty kill ranks sixth in the league, operating at 88.6%. They gave up five goals while short-handed.

Wolf Pack Talk: Forever Blueshirts Radio

You can check out my interview about all things Wolf Pack here.

Upcoming Games

Hartford will have another weekend of three games in three days. The Pack enter the weekend with a record of 8-1-0-3.

Friday, November 8th vs. Hershey Bears at 7:15 pm, XL Center

  • The first of six meetings in the season series. Last season, Hartford dropped the series 0-5-1.
  • The Bears enter the weekend with a record of 6-4-1-1 for 14 points in the Atlantic Division.
  • The Bears have won two of their last three outings and are 2-3 in the previous five games.
  • Mike Sgabrossa leads the Bears in points with 11. He has five goals and six assists in 11 games.

Saturday, November 9th vs. Belleville Senators at 7:30 pm, XL Center

  • The second and final meeting of the season series. Hartford dropped the first game 5-4 in the shootout last Saturday.
  • Belleville enters the week with a record of 4-6 for 8 points, which puts them seventh in the North Division.
  • Drake Batherson leads the Senators in points with ten. He has three goals and seven assists in nine games.

Sunday, November 10th vs. Providence Bruins at 3:05 pm, Dunkin Donuts Center Providence

  • The first of ten meetings against the Bruins. Last season Hartford went 5-3-2 against Providence.
  • The Bruins are behind Hartford in the division by 3 points entering the weekend. Hartford will face the Bruins for three straight games, beginning Sunday.
  • Providence has a three-way tie for the team lead in points. Former Ranger Paul Carey, Peter Cehlarik, and Alex Petrovic all have ten points.