Wolf Pack Weekly: The Boys Come Home After 3-3 Road Trip
After a six game road trip, the Wolf Pack return home for the next four of six games. The club manage to stay in the playoff race and battle through adversity. The roster has seen continual changes and the group attempt to string together more wins as the season progresses. Hartford enter the weekend sixth in the Atlantic Division with a record of 25-23-4-3 for 57 points, a .518 point percentage.
Road Trip Analysis
Unfortunately, the Wolf Pack made the playoff race more difficult for themselves despite going 3-3. They dropped back to back decisions against the Charlotte Checker, causing the point gap between the clubs to increase to six today. Hartford inch a few points behind the Checkers, who is in fourth for the final playoff spot with 63 points. The Pack cannot afford to lose divisional games or games against Charlotte of Bridgeport.
The Pack showed resiliency on the trip as they came back and won in the shootout against a dominant Lehigh Valley Phantoms club last Saturday. The Pack battled back from a 2-0 deficit in the third.
The games against Syracuse and Hershey in the previous weekend was played good enough. Despite being out played periodically against the Crunch, Hartford manage to stay in the game. Then against Hershey, Hartford built themselves a strong lead that proved to be too steep for the Bears.
One of the continual issues this season is struggling against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Hartford loses points and ground on Bridgeport each season. The season series is critical to earn points. The Wolf Pack could never get ahead of Bridgeport in the series and always struggle. Through perspectives, Hartford is 3-5-1 in nine games with Bridgeport. The season series is ten games. Bridgeport is 6-1-1-1. The loses that Bridgeport faced is close games. The Wolf Pack losses were always in blowouts, such as the 4-0 loss to Bridgeport last Saturday. In fact, most goals given up by the club was against on Bridgeport earlier in the season, 7-3 on November 24th. If Hartford was able to compete every game against Bridgeport, then they would be in a better position. Losing points against close rivals is never ideal.
This also applies in the season series with the Springfield Thunderbirds. Hartford is 3-5-0-1 in the season series. In the 12 game season series, nine is complete. The Wolf Pack are already behind in this particular season series. Springfield is 6-3 from their perspective. These points matter for the club. Despite the Thunderbirds struggling, Hartford is unable to dominant them on a continual basis.
Hartford can play well. They have defeated the top clubs in the league such as the Penguins, Phantoms, and Providence. The group has to ensure to take care of business with their rivals too. If not, they will suffer with loss of points, which is why they are chasing Charlotte today.
You can check out head coach Keith McCambridge’s thoughts on the trip here.
- Scott Kosmachuk leads the team in scoring. He registers 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists) in 54 games with Hartford. The young hard working forward is having impact with the roster. Even with good offensive numbers, he is not afraid to play rough or drop the gloves. He is a solid all around player. Despite being on an American Hockey League contract, he has impressed me for an actual contract possibly the end of the season with New York. He is a player that you want around. A good depth addition from this summer.
- Marek Mazanec has a groin injury. He has been out of the lineup over a month. The veteran goalie’s status is week to week. There is no timetable for his return.
- Filip Chytil has hit a slump. In the last four games, the forward has struggled to produce any points. This is apart of the development of the rookie. He is expected to have struggles time to time. On the plus, he is working on other aspects of the game, such as the neutral zone and defense. He is still the man of the Wolf Pack!
- Lias Andersson continues to contribute offensively. Since joining Hartford, his play has rose. He creates plays, especially on the power play or able to convert on great chances. He is comfortable on North American ice and the league. His development is continuing. The forward register three goals, six assists for nine points in 12 games.
With the trade deadline inching upon us, I feel the Rangers are not done on the American Hockey League as well. The organization wants to get younger and load up draft picks. In the long term, this will boost Hartford as a competitive club in future seasons. I am excited for that aspect. In addition, with the status of this season, I could see a few moves that will get Hartford stronger on both ends of the ice. The returns will be young, high ceiling players. Depending on the trades by New York, Hartford could benefit. Chris Drury is able to do trades for Hartford as well. What he wants will be interesting to see. Will the Pack see another guy on the blue line? Will they try to snatch a top forward? Stay tuned.
From my perspective, both areas of the ice are good and can be improved. However, one area of the ice does not scream for attention on changing. The roster is balanced. If I had to choose, I would go with a forward. Never a bad idea to get more offense, or a depth gritty forward. A veteran presence would be good too. On defense, a two way player would be ideal too.
Friday, February 23rd vs Hershey Bears (Washington) at 7:15 pm, XL Center
- This is the fourth of six meetings between the clubs.
- Hartford is 1-2 in the season series. The last time both clubs met, Hartford pulled out a 5-2 victory on February 10th at the Giant Center.
- Hershey still continues to struggle as they are seventh in the division. However, the group is buzzing as they won four straight and are 5-5 in the last ten games.
Saturday, February 24th vs Providence Bruins (Boston) at 7:00 pm, XL Center
- Begins a back to back home at home series.
- Hartford is 3-1-1-1 in the season series against Providence. This is the seventh meeting of ten.
- Providence is 3-2 in their last five games, losing their previous outing to Springfield, 3-2.
- Providence is third in the Atlantic Division for 65 points. Charlotte is two points below.
Sunday, February 25th vs Providence Bruins (Boston) at 3:05 pm, Dunkin’ Donuts Center
- The eight of ten meeting of the season series.
- Hartford has not won on the road against the Bruins. They are 0-1-1-1.