Hartford Wolfpack Playoff Hunt

Wolfpack have had a rough season (HWP)

Wolfpack have had a rough season (HWP)

With the AHL season nearing an end, the play-off race is starting to heat up. Currently the Hartford Wolf Pack sit tied for last place with 44 points, and are 18 points out of the final Play-off spot with 26 games left to play. While the natural reaction is to look at this situation and automatically think the worst, we assume that the wolf pack chances are dead. However, its important to remember that this Wolf Pack team is nicknamed “The Cardiac Pack” for a reason.

How it Breaks down

Keeping in mind that the Pack need a lot of things to go their way, I am here to tell you that there are silver linings and it’s not as grim as it seems. For starters, spots six through nine are separated by only two points. The way the schedule is set up for the final stretch of the season, shapes up with a lot of head to head match ups that is certain to shake everything up.

The play-off picture goes as followes; assuming the three division leaders (Manchester Monarchs 75pts Springfield Falcons 69 pts and Binghamton Senators 68 pts) won’t be caught:

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This is where it starts to get interesting. Of the 26 games that the Wolf Pack have left, 17 of those games are against the nine teams we have deemed within striking distance. The Wolf Pack play Bridgeport five times, Portland and St John’s three times, Albany and Adirondack two times, Worcester and Norfolk once. Of those teams, Hartford has games in hand on all of them except Syracuse and Worcester

How Other Teams Can Help

Binghamton has 25 games left, of those games they play 12 games against the teams in front of the wolf pack. They play Norfolk five times, St Johns three times, Albany and Syracuse two times.

Manchester has 21 games left 13 of them are against Portland five times, Worcester four times,  Norfolk two times and Bridgeport, Adirondack once.

Springfield has 24 games left, can provide the most help as they play Adirondack and St Johns 3 times, Bridgeport, Worcester Albany and Portland twice and Norfolk once. It should be noted that Springfield also has four more games against this same Hartford has taken five out of six points in the last three games.

Keys for the Pack:

Of course if the Pack don’t handle their business then this is all irrelevant. A season that was once as good as dead is now showing signs of life. Over the last 10 games, the Pack are 6-3-0-1, and have earned 13 points in the standings. But if they continue improving on their game then there is hope, and a lot of it.

After struggling to score, a once dormant offense is alive and clicking to the tune of 3.5 goals per game. Another factor in the resurgence has been consistent goaltending. Lead by Dov Grumet-Morris, the Wolfpack finally have a goalie they can rely on for the first time since Cam Talbot was called up to New York. Improvements in special teams have also been a welcome surprise. After having the worst PP and PK in the AHL, Hartford has worked its way up to 25 over all on the PP and 24th on the PK.

The biggest change however, has been a balanced line up, with more talent. T.J. Hensick has been the catalyst for change. Since inserting him into the line up 16 games ago,  The pack have gained 18 points in the standings. Hensick has added depth down the middle and have produced 16 points (4 goals, 12 assists). Of course if the Wolf Pack have any hope at making a run, then the big four of J.T. Miller, Danny Kristo, Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast need to produce on a consistent level and contribute in all facets of the game.

Make no mistakes about it, This is not an easy task in front of Hartford. They have their work cut out for them, but if this Wolf Pack have taught us anything, it’s that they have been a third period team all year-long. With 26 games remaining on the season, the Hartford Wolf Pack are starting the third Period of the season.

 

My name is Will. I am an Avid NY Ranger fan, and a supporter of the Hartford Wolf Pack.... More about Will Cullen

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