Wolf Pack Weekly: Once Surging Pack Now Struggling

Rob O'Gara

After winning four straight games, the Wolf Pack have hit a bit of a slump. Last week saw the Pack lose all three of their contests in regulation, as the once-surging club has stumbled and will look to break out of their slump this week. As a result, Hartford fell to seventh place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 11-12-1-2 for 25 points. The point percentage also dips below the .500 mark to .481. This week features two games against the impressive Charlotte Checkers.

Standing Updates

Here is a look at the standings entering the week.

AHL

Luckily for Hartford, they aren’t the only club on a losing streak, with teams ahead of Hartford dropping a few games as well. The standings have more spread than last week, however, Hartford is not out of the race for any of the top four spots. To tie with the fourth place Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Hartford is separated by five points. This would also tie them with the third place Springfield Thunderbirds who have the same amount of points. The Bridgeport Sound Tigers are also in reach as well for the Pack. Any combination of the upper-tier teams losing in regulation, plus points collected by Hartford, will reduce the margins. The standings in the Atlantic Division shifts dramatically weekly. We will see how the standings look after this weekend.

Alexandar Georgiev

Alexandar Georgiev Continues Playing

The young Rangers prospect has played in three straight games for Hartford.  Unfortunately, he has lost all three starts in net. For the season, Alexandar Georgiev is 2-4 with a 3.71 goals against average and a .884 save percentage while with the Wolf Pack.

Last week, the prospect has stopped 85 of  98 shots. The prospect gave up two goals to Bridgeport, five against Charlotte, and six against Hershey. The prospect came up big periodically in each game, while in other moments he wasn’t equal to the task.  He needs to find his groove again before getting recalled to New York.

Marek Mazanec has not played since November 18th against Rochester. The veteran goalie needs to play as soon as possible since he has not seen any game action in almost a month. Keith McCambridge had a good goalie rotation system until recently with Hartford’s winning then losing streaks. You do not want a goalie to not play for an extended period of time. Marek Mazanec could also get rusty as practice and warmups can only do so much for a goalie.

Defensive Struggles

Hartford’s blue line has struggled as of late. The group has not helped out Alexandar Georgiev in moments when each team is pressuring the club in the defensive zone. There have given up too many odd-man rushes and consistent breakouts from the opposing team. The core also does not do enough to block the passing lanes or make it difficult for the opposing team. They must improve and help the Pack break their losing streak.

Notable Notes

  • Rob O’Gara struggled on the blue line on Friday against Charlotte. The veteran found himself a healthy scratch on Saturday against the Hershey Bears.
  • John Gilmour had his first career tilt with Hershey’s Beck Malenstyn. The Rangers prospect dropped the gloves due to the play. Beck Malenstyn drilled Ryan Lindgren to the boards, aimed towards the head area and was given a five minute major for a check to the head. In addition, he was given five for fighting, plus a game misconduct. Gilmour answered the bell to protect his teammates. Props to John Gilmour stepping up. Ryan Lindgren did not return after the hit.
  • Hartford will be on the road for five of their next six games.
  • Hartford’s power play is ranked 11th in the American Hockey League.  The power play operates at 20.9%. The penalty kill is ranked 22nd in the league, killing 78.9% of penalties against.
  • Hartford has played 26 of 76 games of the season. The season is chugging along with plenty of unknowns.

Transactions

  • Cole Schneider and Matt Beleskey were called up to New York last week, but have been returned to the Pack.
  • Hartford added Alex Kile and Terrence Wallin from Maine on December 6th.
  • Ryan Gropp was assigned to Maine on December 3rd.

Rangers Prospects in Maine

The Maine Mariners continue to chug along in their inaugural season in the ECHL. The Mariners are fifth in the North Division with a record of 12-9-0-1 for 25 points. The Rangers’ ECHL squad is looking to climb higher in the standings with the help from Ranger prospects in Maine. Let’s take a look at a few highlights and stats.

Ryan Gropp in three games has two goals and one assist including the game-winning goal last week.

Brandon Halverson is performing well with Maine. He continues to make impressive saves and keeps the Mariners in each contest. The prospect has played in 14 games with a record of 8-5. His goals against average is 2.90 with a .921 save percentage.

Ty Ronning has four goals, two assists for six points in seven contests. 

Sean Day has found his offensive game with three goals, nine assists for 12 points in 14 games with the Mariners.

Upcoming Games

Hartford travels down to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on the Checkers twice.

Thursday, December 13th vs Charlotte Checkers (Carolina) at 7pm, Bojangles’ Coliseum

  • This is the third of eight meetings against Charlotte. Hartford is 1-1 in the season series entering the week.
  • Hartford has never won in Charlotte against the Checkers.
  • Charlotte won their last seven of ten games, including a three-game winning streak.
  • Hartford is 14 points behind the first place Charlotte Checkers.

Saturday, December 15th vs Charlotte Checkers (Carolina) at 6pm, Bojangles’ Coliseum

  • The fourth meeting between each club.
  • After Saturday’s game, Hartford will not return to Charlotte until March 23rd and 24th.
  • Hartford returns home on December 19th to host the Providence Bruins.