TWO MINUTES FOR THOUGHTS: JANUARY 26TH, 2023Jan 26, 2023
Another week has come and gone for the Hartford Wolf Pack. Since we last spoke, the Pack has played four games and posted a record of 2-2-0-0. Each of the four games had a little something different from the rest, as the Pack both saw a third-period lead get away from them and rallied back in the final stanza for a victory. They also played a complete game on Saturday night, while stumbling a bit on Wednesday.
We’ll touch on those four games, the week ahead, and the recent transactions involving the club.
Onto the blog!
A Tale of Four Games
Friday night saw the Wolf Pack get a goal from Karl Henriksson to take a 3-2 lead early in the third period against the Providence Bruins. The final 17 minutes of that game, however, turned from a chance to earn two points to a hard lesson learned against one of the top teams in the league. The Pack turned the puck over too many times, putting themselves in tough positions that resulted in a penalty shot against and a powerplay for the Bruins. Providence scored three unanswered goals, including converting on that penalty shot and that powerplay opportunity, to take a 5-3 victory in the weekend opener.
That kind of loss can sink a team if that group doesn’t have strong leadership. It didn’t sink the Wolf Pack.
Hartford bounced back with a complete effort on Saturday night in a 4-1 victory over the Rochester Americans that saw contributions from all over. The powerplay scored twice, just the second time this season they have done that, while Dylan Garand was solid in net and Cristiano DiGiacinto and the hard-working line featuring Matt Rempe and Ben Tardif scored the game-winner.
On Sunday, the Pack played 50 good minutes against the Bruins and got a little revenge after dropping two straight to their rivals from Rhode Island. A sluggish final ten minutes of the second period put the Pack down 3-2 heading into the third, but Ryan Carpenter’s goal midway through the final frame forced overtime. In the extra session, Will Cuylle converted on a two-on-one to give the Wolf Pack a 4-3 victory, their first when trailing after two periods this season.
Hartford’s response to a tough loss on Friday night showed a lot. They went toe-to-toe with two quality teams and outplayed them both for 110 of the 120 regulation minutes they played. That’s a great sign for the second half of the season.
The Pack did, however, learn another tough lesson on Wednesday night. Starting on time is important. The Pack was sluggish out of the gate against the Bridgeport Islanders, falling behind 3-0 in the game’s first 7:30. Despite a solid final two periods, the 3-0 hole was simply too deep to dig out of in an eventual 6-2 loss.
We’ll see how they respond tomorrow night.
Right Back at It:
After a skate on Thursday, the Pack will return to game action on Friday in Providence. It’ll be the fifth meeting with the Bruins in the last seven games for Hartford. The first four games have been highly entertaining, with each team posting a 2-1-1-0 record. The sides will meet again in Hartford on February 1st.
There’s a long road to run still, but if this last stretch has proven anything it is that a playoff series between the Wolf Pack and Bruins would produce some high-quality hockey.
On Saturday, the Syracuse Crunch come to town for their lone visit of the season at 7:00 p.m. The Pack is 1-0-0-1 against the North Division this season, with their victory coming over Rochester last Saturday night. The Crunch won both meetings last season between the clubs. They’ll also bring some familiar faces to town, as forward Daniel Walcott and defenseman Darren Raddysh make their returns to Hartford.
This ‘N That
Congratulations to Will Cuylle, who made his NHL debut in his hometown of Toronto on Wednesday night. Cuylle became the first Toronto native to make his NHL debut in the city playing for a team other than the Maple Leafs since Kirk Tomlinson of the Minnesota North Stars on February 24th, 1988. A well-deserved moment that Will certainly will never forget.
Speaking of debuts, Sammy Blais was loaned to Hartford on a conditioning stint on Tuesday and made his debut with the team on Wednesday night. Blais scored his first goal in the AHL since March 2019, when he made a power move to the front of the net and snapped a shot by Jakub Skarek. Blais was physically dominant as the game wore on, and more than earned that goal. Smart money says to keep an eye on #91 this weekend.
It was great to see Tim Gettinger back in the lineup on Friday night when the Pack opened their first three-in-three of the season. Gettinger was injured late in the game on November 25th against Hershey and missed nearly two months of game action. He’ll be a key cog for the Pack in the second half of the season as they try to return to the Calder Cup Playoffs.
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ABOUT THE HARTFORD WOLF PACK: The Hartford Wolf Pack has been a premier franchise in the American Hockey League since the team’s inception in 1997. The Wolf Pack are the top player-development affiliate of the NHL's New York Rangers and play at the XL Center. The Wolf Pack has been home to some of the Rangers newest faces including Igor Shesterkin, Filip Chytil, and Ryan Lindgren. Follow the Wolf Pack on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.