Wolf Pack Weekly: February is Play for Playoffs Month

 

General Manager Chris Drury and Head Coach Keith McCambridge have given Hartford a chance to taste post season action.  The month of February will be critical.  Entering this weekend, Hartford is two points from a playoff spot.  The club continues to roll after the All-Star break.  The Wolf Pack built themselves a eight game point streak, going 7-0-1.  They are two games above .500 and are not far from a playoff spot, unlike the last few seasons.  This month will make or break the season.  The Pack are in sixth in the Atlantic Division with a record if 22-20-4-3 for 51 points.  They have a point percentage of .520 as standings are based upon points percentage.

Wolf Pack Win Wild Division Rival Game

Wednesday morning featured a school day game for the Hartford Wolf Pack.  A snowstorm in Connecticut wouldn’t slow the pack down.  Hartford faced the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, a team that is ahead of Hartford by three points at the time.  The Pack winning in regulation to would close their gap to one point, losing in regulation would put them behind five points, a win in overtime would put them two points behind, or a loss in overtime would put them three points behind.

Hartford built themselves a strong lead.  The first two periods were amazing and pure dominance by the club.  The game looked as if Hartford would be one point away from Bridgeport.  Think again… Hartford stopped playing in the third and the Sound Tigers struck for four goals.  Overtime was tense as the Sound Tigers continued to push back.  Eventually Hartford notched the overtime winner and closed the gap to one point between them and Bridgeport.

The game shows that the club can compete and perform well against tough teams when the games matter.  On the flip side, the Pack are a young club that needs to hold down the ship.  Blowing a four-goal lead is never good. The boys will have to learn how to close out games to improve situation.

Lias Andersson scored his first American Hockey League goal.  You can see the goal here.  Ryan Sproul notched two goals, including the game winning goal.  Filip Chytil and Scott Kosmachuk recorded tallies as well.

 

Standings Watch

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers hold down the final playoff spot in the division at fourth place (.564).  They have two games at hand against Hartford.  The Sound Tigers face Providence then Syracuse.  Two tough teams.

The Charlotte Checkers are in fifth (.552) and have one game at hand against Hartford.  The Charlotte has a weekend series with the Springfield Thunderbirds, a team that has been soaring as of late.

The Wolf Pack face a tough Syracuse Crunch club followed by the struggling Hershey Bears.  I have to watch closely how the weekend unfolds for each clubs.  Hartford could jump ahead depending how the weekend shakes out. Stay tuned.

Roster Moves

  • Vinni Lettieri called up to New York on Sunday, February 4th.
    • The kid deserves another shot to play for the big club.
  • Neal Pionk called up to New York on February 8th.
    • First call up for the young defenseman.
    • Pionk looked good in the NHL preseason and now he has a chance to show his stuff
  • John Gilmour called up to New York as well

 

  • Desmond Bergin signed to a Professional Tryout Agreement with Hartford on February 8th.  The defenseman was in the organization last season, in Greenville with the Swamp Rabbits.

 

  • Brendan Smith was waived on February 8th and could be in Hartford.  That was an interesting move by New York.  We shall see what the future holds for the guy.  If he joins the Pack, he could be a good veteran defenseman on the blue line.  He would help the kids in Hartford and stand up for the group when needed.

Neal Pionk and John Gilmour Analysis

In an unusual move by the Rangers, Neal Pionk will be playing with the big club.  Truthfully, I was expecting Ryan Graves or Ryan Sproul be the next man up that is closer to readiness in the National Hockey League.  Neal Pionk is a grittier defenseman and in his rookie season with Hartford, he has been quiet.  He completes his shifts with simple aspects of the game.  He will block passing lanes, block shots, and keep the play calm.  He does have mistakes and that is expected of him. In my opinion, this will be interesting to see how he performs in the major league level.  I would have gave Ryan Graves a shot since he is more seasoned in Hartford.

Gilmour won the fastest skater competition at the AHL All-Star game and will look to make his mark on the Rangers as well. With the Rangers beginning the rebuilding process, both Pionk and Gilmour will look to prove they can hang with the big club.

Quick Stats

  • Lias Anderson had a three point effort on Wednesday against Bridgeport.  The forward had two assists and one goal.  In six games with Hartford, the prospect has a total of five points.
  • Filip Chytil is the man.  He gets the job done as always and is the top guy in Hartford offensively.  The points keep coming for the forward.  He has points in the last seven of ten games.  He records three goals and seven assists for ten points.  In 27 games, he has 22 points.
  • Scott Kosmachuk has been on a good run as of late.  He has points in the last five of six games.  That span he collects two goals and five assists for seven points.  In 48 games, he has 30 points.  He passes last years total of 28.  His all time high was 36.

Upcoming Games

Friday, February 9th vs Syracuse Crunch (Tampa) at 7:00pm, War Memorial Arena

  • The final and second meeting between the clubs.
  • Hartford dropped the first meeting on January 6th at home, 3-2.
  • Syracuse is fourth in the North Division.  They have lost three straight and are 4-5-1 in the last ten games.

Saturday, February 10th vs Hershey Bears (Washington) at 7:00 pm, Giant Center

  • The third meeting out of six in the season series.
  • Hershey is last in the Atlantic Division, going 1-7-1-1 in the last ten games.
  • The Bears lost a dominant player Chris Bourque to the Olympics and will be out of Hershey’s lineup.
  • The Bears have won the last two meetings, 4-3 in Hershey and 4-1 in Hartford.  Both games were earlier in the season.

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