Wolf Pack Weekly: Hartford Preps For Divisional Weekend

Wolf Pack Goal

As Hartford approaches the halfway point of the season, there is still work to be done for the group if they want to play more than just the regular season. After snapping a two-game skid, the group found themselves down but not out. The Pack has work to do if they want to move up in the competitive Atlantic Division. As the group prepares for another important weekend, the roster has undergone some changes.

Hartford enters the week seventh in the Atlantic Division. Despite the low rank, only a few points separate the Pack from third place Springfield. The Wolf Pack are 18-17-2-2 for 40 points.

Standings Update

AHL

There are a few changes from last week to this week. Hartford was bumped from sixth to seventh in the division. As the Pack prep for this weekend, the club faces Lehigh Valley, Springfield, and Providence. All three are ahead of Hartford by a few points, so winning these divisional games are pivotal if the group wants to inch up in the standings. Depending on other games over the weekend, the Pack may find themselves higher by next Sunday night once all weekend games are completed.

Hartford’s Captain Traded Away

On Monday evening, the New York Rangers exchanged veteran forward Cole Schneider for forward Connor Brickley. Hartford’s former captain had signed a two-year deal prior to the trade. In his first year in the organization, the veteran performed well offensively (16 goals, 34 assists, 50 points).

This season, the forward notched 13 goals, 12 assists for 25 points in 36 games. Despite a slow start to the season, the veteran found a spark offensively and became noticeable on the scoresheet. Considering the move, he was not doing enough to keep Chris Drury and Keith McCambridge satisfied.

The trade reminds me of last year’s trade with Joe Whitney. Prior to their respective trades, both veterans were struggling on the ice. Both were playing fewer minutes as the season progressed, eventually playing on the third, then onto the fourth line. Cole Schneider found success while Joe Whitney did not. Another difference is that Cole Schneider had a shorter time in Hartford than Joe Whitney. Management expected more from the forward and he did not deliver.

Cole Schneider became the captain of the group this season. The Wolf Pack has traded away their last four captains. As we say in Hartford, the “captain curse” is real.

Regarding my thoughts and analysis on the trade, Cole Schneider was a great addition to the roster. He was a dependable player for the group. He was a known voice in the locker room, attempting to give the group a spark and step up on the bench when needed. The prospects learned from the experienced veteran. Losing the player with the second-most points on a roster is a mind-boggling trade. Connor Brickley is not proven offensively and plays a different style than Cole Schneider.

Milwaukee Admirals

Looking at the return, Brickley plays with the edge and grit. He is able to play in your face and potentially put up numbers on the scoresheet. In his past, the forward has racked up penalty minutes and is capable of producing. However, his point production has declined. In 39 games with the Milwaukee Admirals, he notched seven goals and four assists for 11 points. A change of scenery is needed for the gritty forward.

The Pack is banking on Brickley playing with an edge and putting up good offensive numbers. If Hartford gets solid production from the forward, plus the rough edge, then the trade worked out well. If the offense does not show up, then Nashville won the trade. The Rangers took a huge gamble for their farm team. Let’s hope this works out. He will debut on Friday against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Ryan Lindgren Growth Leads to Call Up

Also on Monday, defenseman Ryan Lindgren was called up to New York from Hartford. You can read more about the transaction here.

The prospect has played top line minutes with John Gilmour as both gelled on the blue line. Ryan Lindgren provides a style of play that Ranger fans will be excited to see.

A day prior to the prospect’s call up, Hartford’s play by play broadcaster Bob Crawford wrote about the progress on the prized defenseman.

When Ryan Lindgren came to the Wolf Pack out of the University of Minnesota, the Hartford coaching staff knew that the 20-year-old was a strong, gritty blueliner and an effective defender. What has been a nice revelation is how well-rounded Lindgren’s game is.

Bob Crawford

You can read about his progress here.

John Gilmour Excited For All-Star Action

Rangers prospect John Gilmour was interviewed briefly by NBC Connecticut’s Gabrielle Lucivero. In a fun chat with the prospect, John Gilmour talks about how his hard work pays off on where he is at now.

“John Gilmour is a three-year pro and now he’ll be a two-time All-Star. But his introduction to hockey was a little slippery.
“I didn’t like it because I kept falling,” said Gilmour. “I didn’t know how to skate, I mean skating’s frustrating if you don’t know how to skate right?

Hard work paid off. Gilmour said his dad kept him in power skating classes until he remembers a time when he never wanted to leave the ice.”

Gabrielle Lucivero

In his third year in the American Hockey League, the prospect has been selected twice for the All-Star game. This is John Gilmour’s final year in his entry-level contract. I hope to see him return as he has made some huge strides in his young career. You can read more here.

Injury Update Plus Suspension

In last Saturday’s action against Bridgeport, Sound Tigers forward Steve Bernier made an illegal check to the head on Hartford’s Steven Fogarty.

As a result, Steve Bernier received a game misconduct plus a three game suspension as a result from his action.

The American Hockey League today announced that Bridgeport Sound Tigers forward Steve Bernier has been suspended for three (3) games as a consequence of an illegal check to the head of an opponent in a game vs. Hartford on Jan. 12.

Bernier was suspended under the provisions of AHL Rule 21.1 after being assessed a match penalty. He will miss Bridgeport’s games Tuesday (Jan. 15) at Charlotte, Wednesday (Jan. 16) at Charlotte and Saturday (Jan. 19) vs. Providence.

American Hockey League

Steven Fogarty did not return to the game after the collision. It is unknown how long the forward will be out for Hartford.

As for the rest of the roster, the group is close to healthy. The injury bug has not hit Hartford this season. The flu was going around the locker room, however, it should be stopped soon. Dustin Tokarski was out last weekend due to sickness. He is expected to return for this weekend’s action.

Transactions

  • Brandon Halverson was assigned to Maine on Sunday. He played in one contest with Hartford while he was up for the weekend. His call up lasted nearly a week.

One Timers

  • The power play ranks 12th in the American Hockey League. Hartford operates at 19.8%. The power play has given up seven goals with the extra man on the ice.
  • The penalty kill ranks 12th in the league as well. The short-handed line combinations kill 81.5% of penalties. The group has six short-handed goals.
  • Peter Holland leads the team in points with 39. The veteran has points in seven straight, and in eight of the last nine. In those nine games, Peter Holland has notched 16 points (9G, 7A).
  • Matt Beleskey has points in three of his last four contests, and in six of the last nine, collecting seven points.
  • Tim Gettinger is finding his grove slowly after returning from his concussion. The prospect has points in back to back games.
  • After a good start in Hartford, Lias Andersson has cooled off lately with the Pack. I expect the talented prospect to produce more as the season progresses. When he finds his touch, watch out. He is able to put up solid offensive numbers.

Upcoming Games

Hartford will have an important weekend of games, with six points on the line against their divisional rivals.

Friday, January 18th vs Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia) at 7:15 pm, XL Center

  • This is the third of six meetings against the Flyers affiliate. The last meeting was on January 5th in Hartford as the Pack won 3-1. The season series is split with one win for each club.
  • The Phantoms are in the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. They are in fourth with 43 points, going 20-15-1-2. Hartford is three points behind Lehigh Valley.
  • The Phantoms have lost three straight and six of their last ten outings.
  • Hartford won six of their last ten meetings and is one game above .500.
  • Lehigh Valley’s defenseman T.J. Brennan leads AHL defenseman in points with 33 (7G, 26A).

Saturday, January 19th vs Springfield Thunderbirds (Florida) at 7:00 pm, XL Center

  • This is the fourth of ten meetings against Hartford’s closest rivals, Springfield. Hartford is 2-1 in the season series. The previous meeting was on January 4th as Hartford won 3-1.
  • The Thunderbirds are in third place, going 18-13-5-3 for 44 points. Hartford is behind Springfield by four points.
  • The Thunderbirds have lost seven of their last ten games. However, Springfield has won three of their last five games to keep afloat in the standings.

Monday, January 21st vs Providence Bruins (Boston) at 3:05pm, Dunkin’ Donuts Center

  • This is the eighth of ten meetings against the Bruins. Hartford is 4-2-1 in the season series. Last time out, Hartford dropped a 6-3 decision to Providence on January 11th. Hartford has been outscored by Providence 11-4 in the last two meetings.
  • Providence leapfrogged Hartford after Sunday. The Bruins are in sixth with a record of 18-16-6 for 42 points. Hartford is two points behind.
  • Providence is on a four-game point streak (3-0-1), and have won six of their last ten meetings.
  • Depending on the weather situation in Connecticut and Rhode Island, the game could be postponed. If it does happen, a new date will be announced by the league at a later date.
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