The Wolf Pack hit the road this weekend starting with a game in Worcester tonight. They have played Worcester twice recently, winning one 3-2 in overtime and losing one 3-2. Both games were held at the XL Center. This will be the Wolf Packs first trip to Worcester this year. They are 5-3 in their last eight games in Worcester.
After Worcester the Pack travels to Wilkes Barre/Scranton to play the Penguins who beat them 2-1 in a shootout last week. They wrap up the weekend with a Sunday matinee game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in Bridgeport.
The Wolf Pack have struggled mightily this season going 11-17-0-5 in 33 games. They really have been in a slump going 2-10-0-2 since Thanksgiving weekend. They are down in the basement of the Northeast Division looking up and trying to find a way to earn one of the eight Eastern Conference playoff spots.
The team has been called “young” by just about everyone including the coaching staff. Youth on a team means great energy and promise but youth also brings inexperience into the mix and that has contributed to their current record.
On the Packs roster there are 13 players born after 1990. There are three players over the age of 30 on the team. Defenseman Aaron Johnson, goalie Dov Grumet Morris and forward Arron Asham constitute the players with the most experience on this team. They have NHL experience as well, but will it be enough to lead the team back into a playoff hunt?
Even though he has been gone for two seasons now I am sure the Pack miss the leadership of Wade Redden. Redden was released before the start of last season and he was picked up by the St. Louis Blues. Redden just announced his retirement from hockey yesterday after a 14 year career. He had played for Ottawa, New York, St. Louis, and Boston. He had a fine career; he played in the All Star game in 2002 and was selected in 2004 to play as well but was sick at the time. He ended up in the AHL when the Rangers felt he was underperforming in New York. When he was sent down to play for the Connecticut Whale/Hartford Wolf Pack he became the player with the largest salary in the AHL. Last year during the lock-out he was released by the Rangers and he found his way back into the NHL.
There is no question the team is talented and has its share of bright spots. Grumet-Morris has a 1-6-1 record with the Pack but he has 2.86 goals against average with a 90.4% Save Percentage. Danny Kristo has been the team’s leading scorer all year long. He has 12 goals and 10 assists in 31 games. Kristo is the Packs best sniper, and he would be having even a better year if the team was playing better. Captain Aaron Johnson is the leading scorer among the teams’ blue liners. He has 3 goals and 16 assists in 32 games this season.
There still is plenty of time to get into the playoff race, there are 43 games remaining on the Wolf Packs’ schedule. All of those 43 games are against Eastern Conference opponents and 23 of those games are against Northeast Division opponents.