Wolf Pack Weekly: Hartford Must Step Up In Second Half Of Season
As we hit 2019, Hartford is in the midst of an Atlantic Division battle for the top four spots in the division. And with the second half of the season fast approaching, the group must be ready to play hard and catch up in the American Hockey League standings if they want to be playing meaningful games in the latter portion of their schedule.
As we enter the first week of the year, Hartford is ranked sixth with a record of 15-15-2-2. The Pack are back at .500 after last weekend’s action. As we look ahead, here are updates with the latest in the Insurance City.
The Pack must dominate in the calendar month of January. Many games on the upcoming slate feature Springfield, Lehigh Valley, and Providence. The rivalry and divisional games are critical to gaining ground in the standings. Any combination of Hartford losing with the divisional rivals winning will cause issues down the road leaving Hartford a small buffer for missteps.
Hartford last week had three players suspended. Everyone returns to the lineup for this upcoming weekend.
Peter Holland returned on Sunday against Springfield. He had a three-point performance to help the Pack win a wild one in overtime, 6-5. The veteran has six points in his last two outings.
Cole Schneider had a one-game suspension from last Thursday’s game. He is eligible to return this weekend as well. The captain has been consistent in the points column for the group and is an asset to the offense.
Steven Fogarty returns on Friday. Prior to his suspension, the forward had points in three straight (G, 5A). He has found his offensive game and will help the group this upcoming weekend.
- John Gilmour broke a three game drought as he had a three point performance on Sunday against Springfield. He recorded the game winning goal along with three assists.
- Ville Meskanen has heated up offensively. The prospect had a three-point performance on Sunday. He also has points in five of his last seven games.
- Gabriel Fontaine has found some offense in the last two games, recording two goals and one assist. The defensive center has gotten minutes in offensive opportunities.
- Bobby Butler had points in back to back games for the first time this season on Saturday and Sunday. The veteran has struggled in the offensive aspect of the game. In 33 games, he has registered six goals and seven assists for 13 points. He was expected to produce more.
- The power play continues to be in the middle of the league, ranking 11th. The conversion rate is at 20.7%. The penalty kill on the other hand struggles. Hartford is ranked 16th, with giving up goals in the recent contests.
A common theme in the games last week was Hartford giving up plenty of opportunities against them. Dustin Tokarski and Marek Mazanec had to face multiple impressive opportunities. Hartford gave up a short-handed game-winning goal and gave up five goals on Sunday, though they did win that contest in OT. The Pack needed a regulation win Sunday and did not convert on opportunities to get the two points at the end of 60 minutes and not give Springfield any. The defense is not consistent enough, similar to the offense. Some games they do well while others they have too many problems.
John Gilmour Becomes All-Star, Again!
Announced by the American Hockey League, defenseman John Gilmour has been selected to represent the Wolf Pack in the All-Star festivities in Springfield on January 27th and 28th. Last season was the prospect’s first year representing Hartford. He comes in as the defending champion of the Fastest Skater Event.
- Ryan Gropp, Drew Melanson, and Sean Day called up to Hartford from Maine.
- Vince Pedrie reassigned from Hartford to Maine.
- Lias Andersson joins Hartford after a lengthy stint with New York.
The group will have a three in three this weekend. Two games are home while one is on the road.
Friday, January 4th vs Springfield Thunderbirds (Florida) at 7:15 pm, XL Center
- The end of the back to back games against Springfield. Hartford is 1-1 in the season series against the Thunderbirds. Last time out, Hartford won 6-5 in overtime on Sunday.
- Springfield is three points ahead of Hartford in fifth place.
- Springfield lost five straight and seven of their last ten games.
Saturday, January 5th vs Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia) at 7 pm, XL Center
- This is the second meeting in the season series against Lehigh Valley. The first meeting was on October 24th in Hartford as the Pack dropped a 7-3 decision.
- The Phantoms have won six of their last ten outings and sit third in the Atlantic Division.
- Greg Carey of Lehigh Valley leads the Phantoms in points (34). That puts him tied for sixth in the league for total points.
Sunday, January 6th vs Providence Bruins (Boston) at 3:05 pm, Dunkin’ Donuts Center
- This is the sixth of ten meetings between the rivals. Hartford has had success in the season series, going 4-0-1.
- Providence enters the week one point behind Hartford. The Bruins have lost seven of their last ten games.
- Hartford has collected nine out of ten possible points while only giving up two to Providence.