Wolf Pack Watch: Road Heavy February Begins

Figuring out how to successfully play on the road begins this week for Hartford. Once the month of February concludes, the Wolf Pack will have seven road games remaining while becoming home heavy to conclude the 2019-2020 campaign. The remainder of February compose of seven away games with four home games sprinkled between road travel. Despite dominating on home ice, the Wolf Pack are below .500 away from the XL Center. The club must find a way to win games, or to close them out when being the visitors. They will have two tries this upcoming week in Charlotte, which they have never won in franchise history.

Wolf Pack Continue Three Game Stand Against Springfield

In the mini series, the Wolf Pack are 1-1 in two meetings. The third meeting will be back at the XL Center midweek while the first two was a home and home. Hartford won the first game, then was shutout 2-0 in Springfield on the following night. Again, road struggles continue to haunt the group. The Hershey Bears were also in action and shutout against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms by the score of 3-0. Both teams continue to be tied in the standings for 1st in the Atlantic Division.

Wolf Pack Can Make History Wednesday

Hartford’s next home game is on Wednesday when the group host the Springfield Thunderbirds. If the Wolf Pack pull out a victory in any fashion, they will set a new franchise record for consecutive home wins (12). The group tied the previous record on Friday night, which occurred in the 2004-05 season from December 17th, 2004 to February 18th, 2005.

The Wolf Pack are 19-1-0-2 at home through 22 games at the XL Center. The last loss was in regulation on November 20th against the Syracuse Crunch. That is remarkable.

Standings Update

Entering the week, Hartford is 26-11-4-5 for 61 points. That ranks the Wolf Pack 1st in the Atlantic Division, second in the Eastern Conference (Belleville is ahead by one point), and third in the league.

The Hershey Bears are still tied in the standings with Hartford. The Bears are 28-15-2-3 for 61 points. However, the Wolf Pack own the tiebreaker as the club played two less games than Hershey. Hartford plays on Wednesday while Hershey is off until Friday. The game on hand will reduce to one once we enter the weekend.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are 23-16-3-5 for 54 points in the division. The Penguins are becoming hot as of late, winning their last six of 10 games and are on a 5-0-0-2 run entering the week. The Penguins hold down the final playoff spot in 4th.

Challenges Ahead

The most notable challenge is improving play on the road. The Wolf Pack compiled a 7-10-4-3 record through 24 road games. The month of February brings a challenge to the group. They are missing something while playing on the road. The group will have plenty of games on the docket this month to figure how out to be competitive away from home ice. Currently, Hartford is on a 0-3-2 run on the road that has to be snapped.

Mason Geertsen (Getty Images)

Another struggle is the power play. Hartford’s power play ranks 27th in the league operating a 13.8%. The group has talent and they are unable to figure out the man advantage. If the PP can improve before the playoffs, then the Pack can make a run to the Cup. While this is a struggle, this is not as important as playing on the road. On the other hand, maybe an improved power play could help turn a corner on road struggles

On The Beat: Mason Geertsen a Fan Favorite in Hartford

Check out Hartford’s lone enforcer, tough guy, and a great defensive player here. This is a nicely done article by Greg Markiewicz on the underrated player with the club.

Injury/Health Updates

Reported by Gerry Cantlon from Howlings, there are a few players sick. On the injury aspect, there is not much to report.

Injuries

  • Gabriel Fontaine is still out for the season as the forward had shoulder surgery earlier in the season. He is not expected to return on ice anytime soon.
  • Defenseman Nick Ebert is out day to day with a lower body injury.

Health

  • Cristoval “Boo” Nieves has missed two games due to the flu. He is considered day to day.
  • Steven Fogarty is fighting off a cold but has played last weekend.

Transactions

  • Igor Shesterkin recalled to New York on January 29th.
  • Phil Di Giuseppe recalled to New York on February 2nd.
  • Ty Ronning recalled to Hartford on February 3rd.

Upcoming Games

Wednesday, February 5th vs Springfield Thunderbirds (Florida) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the 6th of 10 meetings in the season series. Hartford lead the series 4-1. After the conclusion of Wednesday’s game, the next meeting will be on February 21st in Springfield.
  • As noted earlier, Springfield is 26-20-2 for 54 points in the Atlantic Division. The Thunderbirds have won their last 6 of 10 games.
  • Panthers prospect Owen Tippett leads the Thunderbirds in points (40). The forward tallied 19 goals, 21 assists for 40 points in 46 games. The second best in points is Daniel Audette with 29 points.
  • Listen – Mixr. Watch – AHLTV.

Friday, February 7th vs Charlotte Checkers (Carolina) at 7pm, Bojangles Coliseum

  • This is the 5th of 8 meetings in the season series against Charlotte. The series is tied at 2.
  • The Wolf Pack have not won a game in Charlotte in franchise history. Hartford is 0-10 against the Checkers in the last 5 years.
  • As noted earlier, Charlotte is 25-17-3 for 53 points in the Atlantic Division. The Checkers have won their last 6 of 10 games.
  • Forward Janne Kuokkanen leads the Checkers in points (36). The forward tallied 9 goals, 27 assists for 36 points in 44 games.
  • Listen – ESPN 730AM Charlotte. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, February 8th vs Charlotte Checkers (Carolina) at 6pm, Bojangles Coliseum

  • This will be the 6th of 8 meetings in the season series. The last 2 meetings will be in Hartford on March 20th and 25th.
  • Charlotte is 12-9-1 at home while Hartford is 7-10-4-3 on the road.
  • In the first trip to Charlotte on December 17th and 18th, Hartford lost both contests. The Wolf Pack lost 6-3, followed by 7-1.
  • Listen – ESPN 730AM Charlotte. Watch – AHLTV.