Wolf Pack Weekly: Bonding on the Road
This week, the Wolf Pack began a four-game road trip. The journey began on Wednesday night in Bridgeport against the Sound Tigers with the Pack earning a 2-1 shootout win. Off to a good start, Hartford is attempting to find their groove after sliding down the standings. The road trip has Hartford playing four games in six days. Entering the weekend, Hartford has gained a few additional key players that will turn the club around. Filip Chytil returns to action on Wednesday night against the Sound Tigers. Vinni Lettieri also played his first game back on Wednesday. Hartford is seventh in the Atlantic Division with a record of 15-17-3-3 for 36 points.
In an unusual move, Vinni Lettieri is assigned to Hartford after a brief stint with the Rangers. The move helps Hartford. I expect him to be back with New York eventually, possibly as soon as this bi-week is over for the Rangers. However, that depends on Alain Vigneault but the only reason he was assigned down in the first place was to get some games and playing time in before returning to the big club. The forward has been the most consistent player in Hartford and was rewarded with a call-up to Broadway when Chris Kreider went down with an injury.
Filip Chytil joins Hartford after the 2018 World Junior Championships. He returned last weekend and although he’s been a bit quiet offensively since his return, he will get back in the grove and dominate offensively in time. Chris Langkow was released earlier in the week. The ECHL forward joined Hartford on a professional tryout agreement. Hartford needed another forward when they were depleted. Chris Langkow played in five games, recording one goal and one assist for two points. Caleb Herbert was also released from his professional tryout agreement and rejoined the Wolf Pack’s ECHL affiliate, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits.
- Peter Holland has goals in two straight games. From the looks of things, he’s getting hot and he could very well be in for a lengthy point streak. You can check out a recent article about him here by John Altavilla of the Hartford Courant.
- Anthony DeAngelo is a streaky defensive player. Since his point streak of six games, the prospect is quieter. Defensively his game is still strong and is improving.
- Ryan Gropp continues to work hard. Despite not being dominant on the score sheet, the young forward is quietly progressing. He gets goals in bunches and is useful in the shootout. There is plenty to like about his game. He plays hard and makes nifty passes. In addition, he keeps his defense simple and is able to adapt to any situation. In 31 games, the forward has 8 goals and 3 assists for 11 points. Measuring a prospect’s growth is not just about the points they notch. There is more to look at.
- Gabriel Fontaine is another young prospect that is developing quietly. In 35 games he’s notched 6 goals, 4 assists for 10 points. Similar to Ryan Gropp, Gabriel Fontaine has a good two-way game. He keeps his play simple and scores in bunches. Both forwards are growing and both have potential to become big name players on the Wolf Pack down the road.
- Dan Catenacci returns to the lineup from injury. Prior to playing on Wednesday, his last action was against Providence on December 8th. He is a good depth center to have. In addition, Dan Catenacci plays with grit and is not afraid to get in the dirty areas.
- Marek Mazanec stole the show against Bridgeport. He stops 46 of 47 shots in the game. He also stops all three Bridgeport shooters in the shootout. He is a great pickup. Well done by Chris Drury and the Rangers.
Friday, January 12th vs Laval Rocket (Montreal) at 7:30 pm, Place Bell
- Peter Holland returns to Place Bell since his trade. The Wolf Pack will also see ex-Ranger Adam Cracknell in a Rocket uniform. They are fifth in the North Division with a record of 15-17-5-2, similar to Hartford. This is the final meeting between both clubs as Hartford plays them twice. Last time out, the Wolf Pack lost in overtime at the XL Center on November 12th in the first meeting with Laval.
Saturday, January 13th vs Belleville Senators (Ottawa) at 7:00 pm, Yardmen Arena
- The second and final meeting of the season against the Senators. Hartford lost the first game in the season series at home 5-1 on October 20th. Belleville is sixth in the North Division with a record of 15-20-0-3. The club is 4-6 in the last ten games.
Monday, January 15th vs Springfield Thunderbirds (Florida) at 1:05 pm, Mass Mutual Center
- The last game of the road trip for Hartford. Springfield is 5-4-0-1 in the last ten games. They are below Hartford in the Atlantic Division for eighth. This is the ninth meeting with Springfield out of twelve games. The Thunderbirds have lost the last three of four games as well.