Hartford Wolf Pack Watch 10/30/14
The new AHL season is now in its fourth week, and stats and standings are beginning to take shape, which means it is time for part one of the FullTilt Rangers’ “Wolf Pack Watch.”
The Hartford Wolf Pack have played seven games this season, and are 4-2-1-0 with nine points. This puts them in fifth place in the AHL’s eastern conference, trailing the leading Albany Devils by just four points. While it is of course important to realize that it’s still very early in the season, and Hartford is finding success to a certain degree in some areas and there are some very encouraging signs, there also areas where improvement is still needed.
Balanced Attack Without Many Standouts Leading The Way for Wolf Pack
To this point, Hartford’s special teams are very much in the middle of the pack (pun sort of intended). The Wolf Pack’s power play currently sits at 17th in the league with a 13.5% conversion rate, while their penalty kill is in the 16th slot with an 84.8% conversion rate. These numbers are just mediocre any way you slice them.
One good sign for Hartford has been their balanced offensive attack. Of the 17 skaters who have played in at least five of the Pack’s seven games, 14 have registered at least one point. This also means, however, that as far as individual players go, there haven’t been many who have opened eyes and turned heads on a day-in and day-out basis.
Right now, the leading scorer in the AHL is Texas Stars forward Travis Morin. Morin currently has 12 points, while Kris Newbury (HER) and Jordan Schroeder (IA) sit close behind at 11 and 10 respectively. Tied for the team lead in points for the Wolf Pack is Danny (Monte) Kristo, and Ryan Haggerty. Kristo has two goals and four assists, totaling six points, while Haggerty has one goal and five helpers.
The leading goal-getters on the team are Ryan Bourque and Oscar Lindberg, who both have three goals and four total points.
Truth be told, for guys who were serious possibilities to make the Rangers big squad right out of camp, these are not very gripping individual numbers.
Is This The Year For Miller?
And what about JT Miller? Miller has been talked about for what feels like ages now, even though it’s only two years, about whether or not he is ready to make the jump up to the NHL permanently. Many fans talk about Miller as if he’s the next great Ranger talent. But for two years and going on three, expectations have not been met, and JT Miller continues to not do enough to impress.
Last season, Miller’s attitude and work ethic was even in question, when he was called out by Ranger head coach Alain Vigneault. Vigneault told reporters that Miller needed to show “more commitment on the ice and off.”
So far here at the outset of this new season, the trend has seemingly continued for Miller. After starting the season with the Rangers, the 21-year-old forward was sent down to Hartford after only three games with zero points and a -4 rating.
In six games for the Wolf Pack in the AHL, he currently has five points, two of which are goals. Miller’s play has been decent, but not outstanding. He’s mixing in with many of the other skaters that are all hovering right around four, five, or six points, and with Anthony Duclair, Kevin Hayes, Ryan Malone, and Chris Mueller all playing fairly well in New York, Miller isn’t making a very strong case for his recall to the big squad.
For the Wolf Pack as a team, the fact that there isn’t one standout, but a number of decent contributors is a pretty good sign with regards to team play. It doesn’t exactly bode well, however, for that one individual player who’s trying to set himself apart from the rest to make the jump up to the show, but it is good for the team.
Between The Pipes
In goal, Jason Missiaen, who had played four games for the Pack, was sent down to the ECHL on Tuesday, leaving Cedric Desjardins and Mackenzie Skapski as the two netminders in Hartford. The two who are remaining in the AHL are a combined 3-0-0-0 on the season, and have allowed just six goals. Skapski also picked up a shutout in his only start of the season.
Through seven games, the Wolf Pack have been outscored 21-19 by their opponents, and yet they’re still sitting above .500. Perhaps with the goaltender trimming that recently happened, those numbers will improve.
The Hartford Wolf Pack are off to a decent start here in the new season. Offensive contributions are coming from almost everyone, and goaltending is headed in the right direction. As far as who’s hot, it’s really tough to say, as no single player has truly stood out. For a team sport though, that may not be the worst thing in the world.
The Wolf Pack are back in action this Saturday as they visit the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. They will then travel back home on Sunday for a date with the Worcester Sharks. Maybe this is the weekend that someone will break out and get ahead of the rest of the pack.