Wolf Pack Weekly: Recent Struggles
This past weekend featured another three games for Hartford. Unfortunately, the club never got back on track. The current record of the club is 4-5-1. They are a .450 hockey club in 9 games. That ranks them fifth in the Atlantic Division. They’ve struggled, but also had some positives: they broke their four game losing streak on Saturday against a dominant Lehigh Valley club. But Hartford has still dropped two of three, still getting adjusted to the new system under Keith McCambridge, and had additions, with the roster moves last week, so there are a few new players in the lineup playing their first game under the Pack banner.
Filip Chytil and Vinni Lettieri. Name a more iconic rookie duo. We’ll wait. pic.twitter.com/waaC91fUoV
— Hartford Wolf Pack (@WolfPackAHL) November 2, 2017
Filip Chytil Dominant
Since joining Hartford, Filip Chytil has been performing well. In six outings, the young forward is second in points for the club with eight (3 goals, 5 assists). Management is being careful with the teenage forward as he played in only two of three straight games this past weekend, on Friday and Saturday, Sunday was his rest day. With another three in three coming up, I would expect him to play two of three again. Filip Chytil had the lone goal on Friday against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, a loss. On Saturday against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, he recorded a goal and two assists, a win. In two games he recorded four points! He provides a great offensive dynamic to the club, he continues to produce with the Pack, grabbing top line minutes.
Alexandar Georgiev Gets Action
The young goalie played his third and fourth game of the season on Friday and Saturday. Chris Nell was given more games as he is the work horse in the crease. On Friday he faced a grinding Bridgeport Sound Tigers club, he was unable to get a win. On Saturday against Lehigh Valley, he earned his first win in the American Hockey League. Alexandar Georgiev was facing stellar chances against the Phantoms, he had to stand on his head and he did. He earned his first win in his fourth try in net. His stats are rough, a 3.93 GAA with a .879 save percentage, but he will improve as the season progresses.
Hartford continues to have streaking players who contribute to the power play. The penalty kill, however slipped:
- The power play recorded goals in back to back games, on Saturday and Sunday. Altogether they converted in 3 of 9 opportunities. The previous season this kind of production was not the case. The power play struggled, or got hot in short streaks, this season the power play has been utilized and produce results on a regularly basis.
- The penalty kill took damage this weekend. They were scored on while short-handed in each of the three games. Usually the penalty kill is consistent and strong. The issue that arose is lack of discipline. They were short-handed too often, a total of 18 instances. That’s 36 minutes in three games. The game they dropped on Sunday against Hershey alone had eight penalties whistled against Hartford. The Bears converted twice in a 4-3 victory. A winnable game was thrown away for simply being undisciplined.
- Cole Schneider had a seven game point streak. That was snapped on Sunday in Hershey. In that span he recorded nine points (3 goals, 6 assists) in seven games.
Hartford is faced with another three games in three nights for the upcoming weekend. Check out the previews here:
- Friday, November 3rd vs Springfield Thunderbirds (Florida) at 7:05 pm, Mass Mutual Center
- Springfield comes into the contest with winning one game. They are 1-8-1, a struggling club to start the season. Hartford played Springfield in early October, winning the game 4-3. The Pack looks to keep on rolling against Springfield in the season series.
- Saturday, November 4th vs Providence Bruins (Boston) at 7:30 pm, XL Center
- This is the first of ten meetings between the clubs. Providence is off to a strong start in the season, entering the week as the top team in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. They are a .750 club, with a 6-2 record. They dropped their previous game on Saturday against Hershey.
- Sunday, November 5th vs Springfield Thunderbirds (Florida) at 5:00 pm, XL Center
- The final game in the three in three. Hartford faces their closest rivals in the league, Springfield in the third meeting of the season. The Pack meets Springfield at home for the first time.
Off Ice Updates
On Tuesday afternoon Governor Dannel Malloy signed a state budget. This is ideal news for the arena, which is overseen by the Capital Region Development Authority. Without a budget in place for the state of Connecticut, lease extensions for the Wolf Pack or University of Connecticut teams were on hold.
With the budget, I would expect lease extensions for both tenants. Madison Square Garden, by December 31st, will have to state their intentions and notify the Capital Region Authority of any relocation plans. Talks continue for the extension. There are indications that the New York Rangers want to stay in Hartford, the lease offer would be for 2 years, with Spectra (the arena management group) paying for the affiliation fees each year. The 2018-19 season would be for $1.55 million and $1.6 million in 2019-2020.
Another variable is the situation with the aging XL Center. The 40+ year old facility is in need of a major overhaul. The Capital Region Development Authority wanted $250 million from the state… the budget gave them $40 million. The money is not for renovations. The money is intended to buy land nearby the arena since the atrium space and empty storefronts are not part of the XL Center, and is owned by a private party. In addition the money will be used for additional patchwork.
In another twist, if the building cannot get private investors by 2019, then it will be put up for sale. There is currently only one interested party, Savage Funding. They specialize in public-private partnerships. We are waiting to see what they’ll propose.
The long term future of the XL Center is still up in the air. Will the Wolf Pack stay past 2020? Will the building stay open past 2020?
If you are interested with the latest information, check out this article from the Hartford Courant here.