The Hartford Wolf Pack (or Whale, you choose) has had a mixed set of results over the past few games but the positive news is that key Rangers prospects have started to turn in good performances after quiet starts.
The Weekend Set
Last Friday saw the Wolf Pack lose 3-2 to The Devils affiliate in Albany. The Pack however did get a point as they took the game to overtime. The game featured two firsts. First of all, Mats Zuccarello-Aasen got his first goal in North America while another first saw Wade Redden get his first goal (on the power play no less) in the AHL. Unfortunately, neither first was enough for the Wolf Pack to get the 2 points.
The Wolf Pack returned to action the next night, once again on the road, this time taking on the rival Bridgeport Sound Tigers who are the Islanders affiliate. This game was a tight defensive affair which the Pack edged 2-1 on another goal from Zuccarello-Aasen, which saw prospects Pavel Valentenko and Evgeny Grachev get the assists. The first Pack goal saw ‘banished Rangers’ combine as Tim Kennedy and Wade Redden assisted on Jeremy Williams’ second goal of the season. The game also featured strong goaltending from Chad Johnson who stopped 21 of the 22 shots he faced.
As is usual in the AHL, the Pack had a 3 in 3 nights stretch and played Sunday against the Providence Bruins, once more on the road. This was a strong victory for the Pack who despite being heavily outshot got a 3-0 shutout victory. Despite Kris Newbury’s 3 assists, Dane Byers 1+1 and Jeremy William’s 1+1 the stand out player for the Pack was young goaltender Cam Talbot who saved 41 shots to get the win. Other than 1 period of work last year this was Talbot’s first full game at the AHL level and what a first it was. The tall, 6’3 goaltender will have definitely put himself forward for more starts on this evidence.
This Wednesday the Pack played their 4th game in 6 days and the result wasn’t pretty. The result was a 5-1 loss at home to Norfolk which, according to reports, was underpinned by poor effort all round. This was another game where the Pack was heavily outshot, this time 36-25. The Packs lone goal was scored by Tim Kennedy who appears to have slotted seamlessly into the Hartford side. The loss brings the Wolf Pack’s record to 3-2-0-1 after 6 games leaving them 2nd in their division, behind Portland.
After 6 games a few players have started the year well offensively. Kris Newbury has 8 assists after 6 games, Dane Byers has 2+4 in 6 games, Jeremy Williams has 3+2 in 6 games while a certain Wade Redden is 1+5 in 6 games and appears to be playing good offensive hockey. Key prospects Evgeny Grachev, Mats Zuccarello-Aasen and Dale Weise all have 2 points so far. Norwegian forward Zuccarello-Aasen has improved in the past few games and has looked more comfortable on the smaller ice, getting 2 goals in his last 4 games.
Dale Weise, after breaking his left hand, will have surgery in New York on Friday and will be out 4-6 weeks. Given the injuries on the Rangers and the solid start (2pts in 3 games) Weise had in Hartford the timing of his injury is bad for himself as well as the organisation. Weise will hope to get back as soon as possible to avoid dropping down the depth chart.