Wolf Pack Watch: Road Struggles and Home Dominance
After winning three straight games two weeks ago, Hartford was swept on the road before returning home for the last game before Christmas break. The group enters the last full week in 2019 with a record of 17-7-2-5. That ranks Hartford 1st in the Atlantic Division (Providence is tied for 1st, Hartford owns the tie breaker) and 2nd in the Eastern Conference. The Wolf Pack will have two games on hand this week before the final game of 2019 on New Year’s Eve.
Home Versus Away Play
The Wolf Pack have a tale of two stories that continues to unfold this season. At the XL Center, Hartford is comfortable with strong play in majority of their home games. As a result, the group built themselves a 12-1-0-2 record on home ice. Regardless of the opponent, the Pack continually found ways to beat teams at home, especially in regulation.
Going on the road is a different story. It was time to look in depth on their away play after getting dismantled in Charlotte for both games. The Pack are 5-6-2-3 away from the home rink. They must learn to be able to grind, win, and compete on a high level regardless of the venue. As we approach the second half of the season, Hartford must find a way to figure out playing away.
Hartford is not the only team in the Atlantic Division with road issues. The Providence Bruins who are often neck and neck with Hartford in the standings, have a similar situation. The Bruins are 7-6-0-1 at home while 12-5-1-1 on the road. The top two teams in the division has similar issues with where they are playing.
As noted earlier, Hartford is the top dog in the Atlantic Division while Providence is ranked second. The third place Hershey Bears are creeping up in the division as the club won eight straight and have points in nine of their last ten outings. The Bears are four points behind the Wolf Pack and Providence. The marginal of error is becoming tighter in the division. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is fourth for 34 points. The Penguins are seven points behind Hartford.
Vitali Kravtsov Returns
The 20 year old prospect (just turned 20 on December 23rd) is off to a better start than his original with Hartford. Through three games, the forward has collected an assist and goal in five shot attempts. His best effort was on Saturday against Providence, as he was creating nifty plays and was noticeable in each shift. He was playing a hard game and showed commitment to the Wolf Pack brass. He was rewarded with a goal in the later stages of the game, which was well deserved to boost his confidence, play, and morale. His first game back was quieter, which was expected as he was adjusting to the North American rink again. The second game was more of the same, but did venture out to try and take some chances on net.
I am excited to see the next few games for Kravtsov. He was performing well on a line with Danny O’Regan and Steven Fogarty. He was given a chance to succeed and show his potential.
Disappointment: Lias Andersson Leaves Organization
Where should I begin on this. On a development perspective in Hartford, it is always disappointing when a prospect feels they cannot be developed further and hangs it in on the organization. Here were my latest thoughts on the situation:
Poor Lias. Even during his time with Hartford he did little… definitely could not find himself here. I was hoping he could find his game here, but never materialized. Add in his frustration & low confidence, that was not going to bold well. Best of luck to him.Milliner06
One last comment: He worked his but off here. He tried, & was willing to go through it. I saw him trying with effort. It’s a rough feeling when prospects don’t work out. It sucks. I want to see guys develop & be successful long-term.Milliner06
One can argue what went wrong, but at the end of the day we lost potential in a forward. His ceiling could be higher elsewhere. We will see. As for a return, that will be interesting to see. Perhaps the Wolf Pack may get another piece that could help Hartford’s offense or defense.
On The Beat: Nick Jones
Check out Hartford’s under the radar rookie, Nick Jones here.
- Ryan Dmowski was assigned to the Maine Mariners on December 18th. He played in 10 games in Hartford and was held off the scoresheet.
- Phil Di Giuseppe was recalled on December 22nd and returned the following day.
- Phil Di Giuseppe is on a three game point streak (three goals). The forward has points in the last seven of ten games.
- Igor Sheterkin recorded his second assist on the season on Saturday against Providence. The prospect bounced back after Hartford was blown out in Charlotte. Shesterkin’s record goes to 12-4-3-3.
- The power play continues to hover in bottom of the standings. Hartford’s man advantage is ranks 23rd in the league, operating at 14.6%.
- The penalty kill ranks 16th, operating at 82.2%. The man advantage and disadvantage could be stronger as the season progresses. It would definitely help the group long term.
Friday, December 27th vs Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Islanders) at 7pm, Webster Bank Arena
- This is the 4th of 12 meetings in the season series. Hartford leads the series 3-0. Two of the three prior meetings went into overtime.
- Bridgeport enters the weekend with a record of 12-16-3-1 for 28 points. That ranks them last (8th) in the Atlantic Division. The Sound Tigers are 5-5 in their last ten outings.
- Defenseman Sebastian Aho leads the Sound Tiger in points (2 goals, 15 assists for 17 points). Matt Lorito leads the forwards in points with 16.
- Listen – Mixr. Watch – AHLTV.
Saturday, December 28th vs Providence Bruins (Boston) at 7pm, XL Center
- This is the 6th of 10 meetings in the season series against Providence. Hartford leads the series 4-0-0-1. The lone shootout loss occurred on November 15th at the Dunkin Donuts Center (4-3 loss).
- Providence enters the weekend with a record of 19-11-1-2 for 41 points. That ranks them 2nd in the Atlantic Division. Hartford has 41 points as well and own the tiebreaker. The Bruins lost their last two meetings are are 6-4 in the last ten games.
- Veteran forward Paul Carey and rookie forward Jack Studnicka are tied for points on the Bruins. Both forwards has 25 points. Carey registered 14 goals, 11 assists in 32 games. Studnicka has 13 goals, 12 assists in 31 games.
- Listen – Mixr. Watch – AHLTV.