Wolf Pack Weekly: Ugly Season as Last Season?
Where to start for this week’s edition of Wolf Pack weekly? The 2017-18 season is turning into a bust in Hartford. The roster moves in the off-season are a bust. The change seems promising coming into the season.
Unfortunately, the club is going back to last season’s form. If the Wolf Pack cannot get their act together by the end of January, then the remaining games of the season will be meaningless. I am disappointed with the season. I was not expecting nearly last place in the league or last place in the Atlantic Division. The past weekend is brutal to critique on. Entering the weekend, Hartford is last place (8th) in the Atlantic Division with a whopping .439 point percentage, which spells out a 15-20-3-3 record for 36 points. Around this time last season, Hartford was around the same spot.
What’s Going South?
Let’s start with the overall picture of the club. Since their nine game point streak, the club has slid on ice and never recovered. Hartford has won two games in the last ten. The last ten games brought them down. Then looking at the four game road trip, Hartford went 1-3. In their lone win, which was against Bridgeport, Hartford had no business winning the game. The Wolf Pack won in the shootout, 2-1. Marek Mazanec dealt with non-existing defense as Bridgeport was all over Hartford. The experienced goalie faced 47 shots on goal excluding the shootout.
Fast forward to the rest of the trip, Hartford self destruct in Laval early in the first period. Former Ranger Adam Cracknell lit up Hartford as he opened the scoring 26 seconds into the contest. Hartford also gave up a short-handed and power play tally. The Pack never recovered from the struggling first against the Rocket.
Saturday was a winnable game. Hartford had a better start and maintain a lead in majority of the game. They blew that late in the third when the Belleville Senators tackled in three goals in the last four minutes of the game. Hartford losses 4-2.
Monday was the grand finale, literally. Hartford was whooped by the Springfield Thunderbirds 5-1. A second period burst of four goals by Springfield was too much to handle. The defense once again was not helping Marek Mazanec. Springfield had two power play goals. They also had 25 shots in the second alone, opposed to Hartford’s two. Marek Mazanec faced 43 shots in net. Hartford was dominated in every aspect of the game.
This season, Hartford struggles with good starts or late period leads. One or the other happens. That is one of the common themes from the season. Another issue is the inconsistencies on defense. One night they show up, while the next they are ghosts. The offense is inconsistent as well. They have the ability to score, however can go on streaks where scoring can be difficult. Another concern is the lack of toughness for the club. Hartford is easy to push around and whipped on ice. They club do not bite back and as a result, loses the physical battles along the boards and dirty areas. There should not be excuses because there is talent on the ice. Last season had less talent.
[NEWS] The Wolf Pack sign forward Shawn O’Donnell to PTO.
— Hartford Wolf Pack (@WolfPackAHL) January 18, 2018
The Bright Spots
Peter Holland is one of the most consistent forwards on the roster. His ability to score and create plays is constant. The center also able to win face offs when needed. Eventually, he was called up by New York. He is deserving of that. I was happy to see him register an assist on Tuesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Marek Mazanec is a good pickup as well. Unfortunately, he cannot turn the team around by himself. The Pack’s record could be worse if he was not in net bailing out the club multiple times. I would love for him to stay for next season.
Keith McCambridge is not making excuses for the club. Even though his team is struggling, he tries to keep the moral good in the locker room. A big difference I noticed on bench is that there is no yelling at any given time. Ex Pack coach Ken Gernander was the opposite. He was yelling and loses his cool on the bench. Instead, Keith McCambridge talk to the players and tries a different approach. On his road trip to Belleville from Laval, the Pack had a six hour bus ride, and normally the bus ride is three hours between both cities. Add in the snow, travel was difficult. His response was that his boys should be ready to play regardless of travel.
NYR’s No. 7 overall draft pick Lias Andersson is in Hartford. According to the AHL site, he’s been assigned No. 28
— Steve Zipay (@stevezipay) January 19, 2018
Never Early to Look at Next Season
Once the season finishes up, Chris Drury and the New York brass will look over Hartford and discuss everything. To rebuild Hartford, it will take time. Who stays will be quite interesting. Adam Tambellini’s contract is up and honestly, he has been a disappointment. In his three years, he developed slowly and should be able to do more. Will he have another chance with Chris Drury? We shall see as he will have multiple decisions to face this summer.
Friday, January 19th vs Utica Comets (Vancouver), XL Center at 7:15 PM
- The second meeting both clubs. Hartford dropped a 5-1 decision to Utica in the first meeting on January 7th. The season series is four games. After Friday, the series shift to Utica with one game on January 24th. Utica enters the weekend fourth in the North Division, winning two straight and are 6-2-0-2 in the last ten.
Sunday, January 21st vs Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh), XL Center at 5:00 PM
- Hartford will have a tough challenge once again. The Penguins won the last two of three meetings against the Pack. Last time in Hartford, the Pack dominated the Penguins 7-3. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton enters the week on a seven game winning streak and top in the Atlantic Division.