Wolf Pack Weekly: Rangers’ Nils Lundkvist getting serious playing time

Nils Lundkvist
Nils Lundkvist (Photo: John Mrakovcich / Wolf Pack)

Hartford completed another week as they approach the halfway point of the season. The second half begins next weekend.

As the season continues with twists and turns, the Wolf Pack are beginning to get their core players back. After three weeks with a depleted roster, the club is now beginning to find their mojo once again.

Hartford recorded three of six points last week to maintain good positioning in the standings, they also have points in three of four contests. The Pack will look to keep momentum with another three games coming this week. The action begins today at home, then going on the road for back to back games against Hershey.

Wolf Pack: Nils Lundkvist making an impact

The 21 year old prospect debuted last Wednesday. In his three games thus far, Lundkvist has shown immediate focus and composure with the club. He’s registered one assist and a +2 rating.

Despite being sent down, the defenseman had a great attitude and played well and enjoying the ice time. Lundkvist was given opportunities to participate in Hartford’s power play. He has drawn chances and showed his strong one timer. His skating ability is excellent and he’s active at both ends of the ice.

The talented prospect recorded his first point in the American Hockey League last Wednesday with an assist to Austin Rueschhoff’s goal.

Despite the Wolf Pack losing a more defensive player in Braden Schneider, Lundkvist evens it out as the club will have more of an offensive threat and mobility on the blue line.

Future Rangers Pairing?

Saturday’s game against Laval featured Zac Jones returning to the lineup. His partner was Nils Lundkvist, which was the first time both players were on the same pairing in the AHL. Both played together in the Rangers recent 4-0 win over the Lightning this month.

nils Lundkvist
Nils Lundkvist (Photo: John Mrakovcich / Wolf Pack)

The chemistry between the two prospects were great to watch. They played well as a unit and had strong offensive opportunities.

On the defensive end, they read plays well and gave trouble to Laval when they were attacking. As a result, the Rocket’s shots on goal were from distance and not in high scoring areas.

The two proved to be a reliable defensive pairing. If they are not on the scoresheet, they are still impacting the game by locking it down defensively. In the one game sample, they played fantastic. The Rangers could utilize both as a pairing in future seasons. The two will get another crack at it for the three games this upcoming week.

Pack Watch: Austin Rueschhoff Strides in Opportunities

While Hartford was depleted from the Taxi Squad, injuries, and Covid-19 protocol, Rueschhoff was given more responsibility and opportunities on the ice. The prospect has stepped up and was rewarded in the last few weeks. Currently the forward has points in three straight games (four goals) and points in the last six of nine (five goals, two assists). His confidence is building up as the rookie is hungry for more. In the last few outings, Rueschhoff is shooting more often on net and is not afraid to find ways to get into prime scoring chances.

The 24 year-old in his first full season is showing strides of development. While Rueschhoff was exposed to the AHL last season, the prospect is grinding out the full season and has put in strong efforts. As Hartford gets healthy, Rueschhoff will become a solid depth forward for the club. He is a prospect to keep an eye on for the upcoming weeks as he is heating up and being consistent on the scoresheet.

Highlight Mentions

In last Saturday’s game, there are two highlights that are a must see. Keith Kinkaid returned to the lineup for his first game back from the Taxi Squad to earn a shutout. The veteran continues to dominate the league and guide Hartford back to the win column.

Lauri Pajuniemi had a highlight reel goal to register his eighth goal of the season. What a beautiful goal by the talented prospect as the forward showed patience and nifty moves to get on the scoreboard.

Pajuniemi has points in the last two of four games (two goals). When he gets on a roll, he will be on the scoresheet most nights. The first half of the season showed significant growth for the prospect and he will continue to grow. When the playoffs begin, he could be making a plenty of noise.

Wolf Pack Standings: Air Tight

The standings in the Atlantic Division are tight from first to fifth. From the points view, Hartford is four points away from having the highest amount of points in the division. However, keep in mind that standings are based on point percentages. Hartford could jump as high as second or slide to as low as fifth depending on the outcome of their games this week. Furthermore, teams to look out for are Charlotte, Hershey, Springfield, and Providence as we have to scoreboard watch this week. Hartford will have a chance to take on third place Bears this weekend and possibly overtake the group.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Hartford is ranked fourth in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. The Wolf Pack compiled a record of 16-10-3-2 for 37 points (.597).

On the plus, Hartford’s reinforcements will help boost the club in pivotal games this week. Stay tuned for how the group fared and where they end up at the conclusion on the week. The battle for the top three spots continue.

You can view the standings here.

Transactions

To Hartford

  • Justin Richards, Lauri Pajuniemi, Zac Jones on January 14th.
  • Keith Kinkaid returned on January 15th while Anthony Greco returned on the 16th.
  • Tim Gettinger and Jonny Brodzinski returned on January 18th.

To New York

  • Tyler Wall called up to the Taxi Squad on January 15th.

Released from Professional Tryout (PTO)

  • Brandon Fortunato on the 14th.
  • Liam Pecararo and Aaron Luchuk on the 16th.

One Timers

  • Tanner Fritz has points in three straight games (three assists). The veteran has points in the last four of five games (four assists). The forward leads the active roster in points (19). In 28 games, Fritz recorded four goals and 15 assists.
  • Anthony Bitetto recorded two assists in Saturday’s game against the Rocket.
  • Justin Richards recorded two assists as well on Saturday.
  • Keith Kinkaid recorded a 4-0 shutout on Saturday. The veteran stopped 31 shots against the Rocket. Kinkaid’s record with Hartford improves to 11-1-2-1 with a 2.58 goals against average and .913 save percentage. Kinkaid is ranked 14th in the AHL for minutes played (859:29).

Upcoming Games

Hartford has completed 31 games out of 72 on the season. The club has 41 games remaining on the docket.

Wednesday, January 19th against Toronto Marlies (Maple Leafs) at 7pm, XL Center

  • This is the first of two meetings in the season series. Hartford will visit the Marlies to conclude the series on April 15th. Both clubs have not met since the 2018-19 season. The series was tied at one in that season (Hartford lost 3-2 on 10/20, then won 3-2 on 2/13).
  • Entering Tuesday, Toronto compiled a record of 17-10-1-1 for 36 points (.621). That ranks the club third in the North Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Marlies are 7-3 in their last ten outings.
  • Forward Brett Seney leads the Marlies in points (25). Through 24 games, the forward collected 13 goals and 12 assists. Defenseman Joseph Duszak is ranked second in points on the roster with 22 (one goal, 21 assists).
  • Listen – Mixr. Watch – AHLTV.

Saturday, January 22nd vs Hershey Bears (Washington) at 7pm, Giant Center

  • This is the second of six meetings in the season series. Hartford won the first meeting by a score of 7-3 on November 20th. Hartford will face Hershey three games at the Giant Center within a two week span. The fourth meeting will be on February 2nd.
  • Entering Tuesday, Hershey compiled a record of 18-11-3-2 for 41 points (.603). That ranks the club third in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. The Bears are 6-2-1-1 in their last ten outings.
  • Experienced forward Joe Snively leads the Bears in points (32). He is ranked seventh in the AHL for points as well. Through 32 games, Snively recorded 11 goals and 21 assists. Garrett Pilon is ranked second in the group with 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists).
  • Listen – Fox Sports 1460. Watch – AHLTV.

Sunday, January 23rd vs Hershey Bears (Washington) at 3pm, Giant Center

  • This is the third of six meetings in the season series.
  • Hartford’s record on the road is 6-6-2-1.
  • Hershey’s record at home is 12-5-2-2.
  • Listen – Fox Sports 1460. Watch – AHLTV.

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