March 10, 2020

Wolf Pack Watch: Hartford struggles lead to line brawl (video) as reinforcements on the way

Pack brawl (AHL.TV)

The losing streak has reached 4 games as the Wolf Pack meltdown continues. Hartford fought hard in each game but fell short. The frustration boiled over on Sunday when Hartford racked up 33 penalty minutes for their first line brawl of the season. The combination of a weak roster, offensive struggles, and the games simply not going their way has caused destruction of hopes for 1st and possibly 2nd in the Atlantic Division.

Despite the string of losses in the recent weeks, the Wolf Pack find themselves in a good position for a playoff spot as the the performance from the first half of the season is big enough for comfort their recent struggles as of late. This upcoming week is huge as the Wolf Pack will have 3 opportunities to get back on track and shake off their rut.

Standings Update

Entering the week, Hartford is 31-19-6-5 for 73 points. That ranks the club 3rd in the Atlantic Division. Hartford is 7 points behind 2nd place Providence and 8 points behind 1st place Hershey. Charlotte is 4 points behind Hartford for 4th.

The standings are close and the Wolf Pack could be bumped as low as 4th in the division once the week is complete. On the plus, 5th place Springfield is 8 points behind Hartford, which provides cushion for the group.

Playoff Primer

Entering into Wednesday’s game, Hartford’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 23 points. You can view the primer daily here.

Offense Lacks Production

Vitali Kravtsov (Photo by John Crouch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

One continual struggle from this season is the inconsistency of offense. Despite the numerous chances in each of the games last weekend, Hartford was unable to convert. The Wolf Pack were outscored 12-5 in the last 4 games. During that run, Hartford was shutout once and had one goal in the last 2 contests. Vinni Lettieri is the most reliable player for points, but he does not get much help from other forwards. When Lettieri is held off the scoresheet, there is not much of players stepping up to contribute on a continual basis. The Wolf Pack heavily rely on Lettieri too much.

Another concern was the dependency of Di Giuseppe earlier in the season, as he was the veteran who could score huge goals. Joey Keane was also reliable for offense on the blue line. Their removal with no replacements in Hartford caused most of the decline in production. However, the recent ATO signings and likely addition of K’Andre Miller will provide a huge boost.

Suspensions & Injury Updates

The Wolf Pack’s roster is down a few players for the upcoming week of play. On the suspension side, Hartford has lost Vinni Lettieri, Matt Beleskey, and Mason Gertseen for 3 games.

“The #HWP will be without Lettieri, Beleskey, & Gertseen for 3 games after Sunday’s altercations in Springfield.

Lettieri & Beleskey are suspended for leaving the bench to join an altercation.

Gertseen is out for leaving the penalty box for the purpose of joining the altercation”

Milliner06

Sunday’s game boiled over in a rivalry game against the Thunderbirds. Add in the recent string of losses, the boys were heated up. The brawl resulted in 72 penalty minutes from the combined teams.

On the injury front, Cristoval “Boo” Nieves returned to the lineup last Friday to be out for the remainder of the weekend. He could potentially be out for a bit longer than expected.

Tim Gettinger was out of the lineup and is considered day to day. Yegor Rykov has sat the weekend. Nothing was confirmed if the prospect was injured or healthy.

Transactions

Monday had a few movements which has altered the roster.

  • Hartford has assigned Adam Huska to the Maine Mariners of the ECHL. The move is aimed to get Huska more playing time while Hartford rides JF Berube. The Wolf Pack will have room for Tyler Wall once his college season ends.
  • Defenseman Zach Giutarri joins Hartford through a PTO. Giutarri completed his college season at Brown University. In 121 career games at Brown, the defenseman collected 16 goals and 38 assists for 54 points.
  • Patrick Khodorenko is expected to join Hartford through a ATO as well.

Upcoming Games

Hartford has 15 games remaining on the docket (9 home, 6 away).

Wednesday, March 11th vs Providence Bruins (Boston) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the 9th of 10 meetings in the season series against the Bruins. Hartford lead the series 6-1-0-1. The final meeting will be in Providence on March 21st.
  • Entering the week, Providence is 37-18-3-3 for 80 points in the Atlantic Division. That ranks the group 2nd in the division. The Bruins are on a 11-0-1 run and have won 11 straight games.
  • Bruins prospect Jack Studnicka leads the Bruins in points with 49. The forward has 23 goals and 26 assists in 59 games. Studnicka ranks 11th in the AHL for points.
  • Listen – Mixr. Watch – AHLTV.

Friday, March 13th vs Springfield Thunderbirds (Florida) at 7:05pm, Mass Mutual Center

  • This is the 9th of 10 meetings against the Thunderbirds. Hartford lead the series 5-3. The final meeting of the season will be on March 18th at the XL Center.
  • Entering the week, Springfield is 31-27-3 for 65 points in the Atlantic Division. That ranks them 5th in the division. Springfield is 5-4-1 in their last 10 games.
  • Forward Danick Martel leads Springfield in points with 39 (include Syracuse’s totals). Collectively, Martel has 20 goals and 19 assists in 60 games. In Springfield, he has 4 goals and 5 assists in 9 games.
  • Listen – Mixr. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, March 14th vs Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Islanders) at 7pm, Webster Bank Arena

  • This is the 9th of 12 meetings in the season series against the Sound Tigers. Hartford lead the series 7-1.
  • Entering the week, Bridgeport is 22-33-5-2 for 51 points in the Atlantic Division. That ranks them last (8th) in the division and Eastern Conference. The Sound Tigers are 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 games.
  • Islanders prospect Sebastian Aho leads Bridgeport in points with 30 In 48 games, Aho registered 3 goals and 27 assists.
  • Listen – Mixr. Watch – AHLTV.

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