Yesterday, we talked about the Devils had to stop worrying about what other teams were doing and just win a game. Well, that didn't happen. They didn't even get an overtime point and now likely have to go 6-1 the rest of the way to make the playoffs, which includes a two-game sweep of the Rangers in the final week.
So tonight, the Devils have no choice but to sit back and root for the other teams. The Senators are off tonight, but they're completely out of reach. The Islanders are not "untouchable" but they're a pretty difficult team to catch.
(Editor's note: Buffalo and Philly are only pictured because they haven't been mathematically eliminated -- yet. We'll see ya in October, fellas.)
The Devils were in rough shape entering play Thursday night. Then the Senators, Islanders and Jets won in regulation, making the six and seven seeds basically unreachable and adding yet another ROW to Winnipeg's already impossible number. Those wins, combined with New Jersey's regulation loss Wednesday, put the Devils hoping for a Jets collapse and a sweep of the two-game mini-series against the Rangers in the final week of the season. That of course assumes the Devils keep pace with the Rangers until that point, which brings me to my next point.
This leaves the Devils' regular-season finale (also against the Rangers) as the only game on the schedule with a "TBD" next to it. My guess is if these two teams are still in the same position in the standings in a week that game will end up on NBC as well.
I won't say the Devils "didn't deserve" to win that one, because that's not what happened tonight. Yes, the Devils allowed too many odd-man rushes and the offensive pressure and possession pretty much died in the third period. But the Devils also ran into a hot goaltender and were also the victim of some unfortunate bounces. All in all, it was a very good hockey game between two rivals fighting for the same land in the playoff landscape. Some thoughts...
Goalie class: First off, let me say that Johan Hedberg didn't play poorly at all. He played well, in fact. Hedberg was victimized by a bad bounce on one of the second goal and some
sloppy nonexistent coverage of the trailer on the first goal. Moose managed to keep the Devils in the game on several occasions and his glove work (particularly on Nash in the third) was just phenomenal. The problem with Hedberg is that he's not on Henrik Lundqvist's level and when a goalie not on Lundqvist's level runs into an elite goalie that's playing well, it usually doesn't end well. Right before the third and deciding goal for the Rangers, Lundqvist made about four or five strong saves that only a select group of goalies can make. Devils fans witnessed it for almost two decades with Martin Brodeur, so they know what elite goaltending looks like. There's no denying that Lundqvist was maybe the main reason tonight's game ended the way it did. The good news for the Devils is they're finally getting Brodeur back, possibly as early as Thursday. That will help the Devils even the playing field a bit when they match up with the Rangers, Canadiens and Bruins later on this season and potentially in the playoffs.
An impressive win by the Devils from almost start to finish against a division rival ripe for the picking, especially with the Rangers lacking two key players. There were three key factors to the win tonight, all of which I'll get into below...
Son of Clark: Somebody's about to get P.A.I.D. David Clarkson is an absolute beast this season and it's got me wondering what he would have done in an 82-game season. Would he be so sharp right off the jump or would he have had slumps or bad stretches in between streaks of dominant play? No matter though, because he's on pace for 37 goals and 64 points in a 48-game season. Seriously. Obviously those numbers won't keep up, but he's really taken his game to the next level this season, burying almost every chance he gets in front of the net in addition to being great along the boards and in all the dirty areas that Pete DeBoer loves so much. And he wouldn't be doing it without his partner in crime, the ageless Patrik Elias, who picked up three more assists this season. The chemistry between the two is undeniable and I have to wonder if Adam Henrique is a "missing piece" of sorts on this line -- someone that can finish plays set up by Elias and Clarkson's hard work behind the net and also create plays for the others with his speed and skill. As long as this line stays together -- and I see no reason why it wouldn't for the foreseeable future -- the Devils are going to be a bear to play against.
Who: New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils
When: 7:00 p.m. ET; Pregame show at 6:30 p.m. ET
To their credit, the Pack came out and gave fans a good show in their final game at the XL Center on Saturday, riding a franchise record seven goal second period to a scrap-filled 7-5 whitewashing of the lowly Springfield Falcons.? They wrapped up the season in Bridgeport on Sunday with a 2-1 win over the Sound Tigers, capping off a 10-5-0 end-of-season run that proved to be too little, too late.
I'll dig deeper into the whys and wherefores behind the Wolf Pack's first finish outside the AHL's playoff picture -- and take a closer look at some individual performances -- over at Beyond the Blueshirts in the coming weeks.? In the meantime, click below for three high-level issues that helped sabotage the Wolf Pack's unlucky thirteenth season:
And if this year's edition of the Wolf Pack is to avoid becoming the first squad in the franchise's 13-year history to fail to earn an invite to the post-season dance, they're going to have to continue winning without some important pieces.? Last week they did it without leading scorers P.A. Parenteau and Corey Locke, who both spent the week with the Rangers.? They'll get top point-getter Locke back following his two-game debut in a Rangers uniform, but they'll be without the services of Dale Weise, who earned his first call-up to the NHL with a four-game goal scoring streak and a career-high seven game points streak.? The sophomore winger has picked up ten points in the span, bringing his season totals up to 28 goals (second on the team behind Locke's 29) and 50 points, handily eclipsing his 11 goal, 23 point rookie campaign.
Four of Weise's points came in the past week, beginning with a goal in the Wolf Pack's 5-3 loss to visiting Worcester on Wednesday.? After Donald Brashear gave the Pack a rare early lead at 8:30 of the first period, the Sharks answered with three goals in the final 8:24 of the frame, sending the Pack to the locker room 3-1 down.? Weise gave his club hope late in the second period when his centering pass went in off a Worcester defenseman and cut the lead to 3-2.
To make matters worse, the club now finds itself moving forward without either of its top two scorers, since both P.A. Parenteau and Corey Locke were recalled by the New York Rangers.
They got a taste of what it would be like this weekend, when they were forced to play without Parenteau, who got the call from New York on Friday morning.
A common theme in both losses this week -- and throughout the second half of the season -- was playing from behind.? In Wednesday's game against the Providence Bruins, defensive breakdowns cost the Wolf Pack two goals in the first 10 minutes of the game, including a goal on the game's first shot just 2:23 in.
The Pack drew within one on Corey Locke's league-leading 17th power play goal in the second period and equalized three minutes into the final frame when P.A. Parenteau banged home a convenient carom off the end boards.? But the Bruins re-took the lead at 10:43 after Trent Whitfield slipped Locke's coverage, stole the puck from Anders Eriksson behind the net, and wrapped it around the post for what would ultimately become the game winner.
Sometimes the addition of one player can change the entire dynamic of a team.? That's what's happened when Kris Newbury joined the Wolf Pack at the NHL trade deadline two weeks ago.? Newbury's arrival allowed third-year pro Brodie Dupont to slide back to his natural position on the wing, and with the return of P.A. Parenteau from injury, reunited two-third of last season's dynamic top line, with Newbury slotting into Artem Anisimov's place at pivot.? That allowed the team's leading scorer, Corey Locke, to center his own line with Dane Byers and Dale Weise, giving the Pack a pair lines that pose an equal and serious threat .? And, in turn, take some of the pressure off rookies like Evgeny Grachev and Paul Crowder and ECHL call-up Ryan Garlock, who have all been asked to do a little more than they're currently capable of throughout much of the season.
It wasn't all sunshine and lollipops this week, however.? The week started off with a trip to the DCU Center in Worcester, where the Wolf Pack faced the division-leading Sharks on Wednesday night.? Despite their troubles this season, the Pack had somehow managed to come away with victories in each of the first four meetings between the two clubs.? As they took a 3-2 lead into the final period -- after having the better of the play through two periods -- it looked like they'd keep that streak alive.
Both Saturday's match-up with the Hamilton Bulldogs and Sunday's tilt against the Toronto Marlies required extra time to decide a winner, and despite being tied for tops in the league in overtime victories, the Wolf Pack came away the loser in both: Saturday in a shootout, and Sunday with just 1.1 seconds remaining in overtime.
A pair of new faces were on hand for the latest round of losses, while some old friends moved on to greener pastures, victims of the NHL Trade Deadline. New York Rangers General Manager Glen Sather made two moves at Wednesday's deadline, both with the goal of shoring up weak spots in the Wolf Pack line-up.
The Pack lost all three of the games it played, each by single goal, to fall below the .500 mark to 26-27-4, but two of the losses came in overtime, earning the Pack two extremely valuable points.? And so as the AHL enters its final full week before Clear Day rosters must be submitted, the Wolf Pack finds itself in the seventh spot in the eight team Atlantic Division, 11 points behind the fourth place Lowell Devils.? Yet thanks to the lopsided division alignment in the AHL's Eastern Conference this season, and the poor play of the bottom half teams in the East Division, the club remains only two points out of the final cross-over playoff position.
The week started on a high note, with the Wolf Pack welcoming veterans P.A. Parenteau and Mathieu Dandenault back from extended absences.? Parenteau returned from a concussion -- his second in less than a year -- that had kept him out of the lineup for 16 games over a five week span.? Without its top offensive producer, Hartford's record was a dismal 4-10-2-0.? Dandenault, meanwhile, had been missing since Thanksgiving weekend with a groin injury, an absence of 36 games.
The week started off the same way last week ended, with another blowout loss, this time to the Norfolk Admirals, 7-3.? Another slow start put the Pack behind the eight ball early, but despite being outshot 17-9, the Pack escaped to the locker room at the end of twenty minutes down by a single goal, thanks to a Brodie Dupont tally late in the period that made it 2-1.? Norfolk blew the game open in the second with three unanswered goals, however, the second of which sent rookie puck-stopper Chad Johnson to the bench for the second time in as many starts, after giving up four goals on 21 shots.? Paul Crowder and Jared Nightingale each added goals in the third period, after the game was already well out of hand.
Nightingale's tally, with only 15 seconds remaining, is noteworthy only because it earned Donald Brashear his first point in the AHL since his demotion, a secondary assist.? It was a weekend of firsts for the exiled enforcer, who also fought his first AHL bout this weekend, against Bridgeport's Joel Rechlicz.
The week began at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence on Friday, where the seventh place Bruins entered the week having won four of their last five games to move withing four points of the fifth place Wolf Pack.? By the time the smoke had cleared, the Baby Bs had scored a 7-1 decision, handing the Wolf Pack one of their worst defeats of the season.
Most worryingly, Chad Johnson, back in the AHL for his first start since January 23, showed signs that the yo-yo treatment he's been given by the Rangers organization may be hurting his development.? The rookie pro stopped just 28 of the 35 shots he faced and looked nothing like the calm, confident netminder who took over the backup job in New York in early December.
Nope, not bad at all for a team that was missing nine players, including five defensemen, to injury.? There was some good news, but also some more bad news on that front this week, but we'll get to that in a minute.
The week got underway at the Prudential Center in Newark, where the Wolf Pack faced the Lowell Devils on Wednesday.? It was the second of two games played between the two clubs in Newark this season, with the first one going the Devils way by the score of 3-2 on January 6th.
When the Pack took the ice to face the Norfolk Admirals at the XL Center in Hartford last Wednesday, they did so without forwards P.A. Parenteau (concussion), Dale Weise (hand), and Mike Hoffman (shoulder-season), in addition to defensemen Corey Potter (concussion), Bobby Sanguinetti (lower body), Mathieu Dandenault (groin) and Brent Henley (knee-season).
Although Weise was able to return two nights later, when the Wolf Pack played host to the Lowell Devils, it turned out to be a case of taking one step forward and two steps back, as both defenseman Michael Sauer and forward Ryan Garlock were forced from the game with undisclosed injuries. Goaltender Steve Valiquette joined the long list of walking wounded the next morning when he suffered a fractured finger during the team's morning skate.
The week got underway with a Friday night rematch against the division-leading Manchester Monarchs, who'd earned a decisive 4-1 victory over the Pack in New Hampshire just five nights earlier.? Hartford entered the contest missing defenseman Corey Potter and top-line right wing P.A. Parenteau, both of whom are believed to be out with concussion-related symptoms.
The Pack managed to build itself a 2-1 lead through the first half, however, thanks to goals by Brodie Dupont -- his first point in nine games -- and Nigel Williams.
The better result of the week came on Saturday, when the Wolf Pack welcomed the seventh place Providence Bruins to the XL Center in Hartford. For the second time in as many games, the Pack topped the Baby Bs in overtime -- this time by a 3-2 final.
It was rookie forward Evgeny Grachev who played the hero in this one, breaking a five game scoring drought by scoring a pair of goals. The 19-year old Russian opened the scoring in the first period, beating journeyman goaltender Dany Sabourin up high with a wrist shot, then clinched the victory with his first career overtime game-winner, a deft deflection of defenseman David Urquhart's shot from the point.
It was an especially good week for one member of the Pack.? Sophomore right wing Dale Weise was named the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week on Monday, becoming the first Pack player to earn the distinction this season.? The honor capped off a week in which the Winnipeg native scored goals in each of the Pack's games, including two against the Worcester Sharks on Friday.
Weise started his four game goal scoring streak -- the longest by a Pack player this season -- at the Prudential Center in Newark, where the Wolf Pack met up with the Lowell Devils for a rare (not quite) neutral site game on Wednesday.? It took the better part of two periods for the Pack to find their legs, but the squad managed to battle back from a two goal deficit to tie things up on goals by Paul Crowder and Weise early in the third period.
But before their weekend of firsts could begin, the Wolf Pack had to get through the back end of a home-and-home series with the struggling Springfield Falcons on Wednesday.? They did so, by a final score of 5-3, but certainly didn't make it easy on themselves.? After falling behind by a pair of first period goals to the Atlantic Division's basement dwellers -- who entered the game winless in 17 straight games -- the club roared back to score three times in 3:12 early in the second on goals by Dane Byers, Derek Couture and Michael Sauer. A late Falcon tally sent the teams into the third period tied at three, but Ryan Garlock broke things open with a shorthanded goal at the four minute mark of the period.? Hartford's heroes never looked back.? P.A. Parenteau finished the scoring with a goal in the final minute of play to go along with a pair of assists, giving Hartford one last victory for 2009.? Steve Valiquette was solid in his fifth straight start, earning his second straight "W" by stopping 25 shots.
With the Falcons behind them, the Pack prepared for Saturday's meeting with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, which entered the game in fourth place in the Atlantic Division, a point ahead of the Pack.? Evgeny Grachev broke a six game goal-scoring drought with a redirection on the power play 4:57 in to the first period, but the home team surrendered two goals in the middle frame to set the Pack up for their third period come-from-behind win.
The Wolf Pack returned from the Christmas break Saturday night with a short trip south to battle the second place Bridgeport Sound Tigers, which started the weekend five points north of the Wolf Pack in the Atlantic Division standings. In a tightly contested match, the Pack entered the third period trailing 1-0. Rookie Paul Crowder's seventh of the season tied things up at 7:19, but Matt Martin gave the home team back the lead three minutes later when he beat goaltender Steve Valiquette on a penalty shot that was awarded after David Urquhart hooked the rookie as he skated in on a partial breakaway moments earlier.
Like their big brothers in New York did the same night, Hartford knotted the score in dramatic fashion, on a Corey Locke power play tally with only 1:14 remaining in regulation. Unlike the big club, the Wolf Pack survived five minutes of four-on-four? to send the game to a shootout, where -- as they have each time they've gone to a shootout this season -- they lost, dropping their record in the skills competition to 0-4. P.A. Parenteau scored the lone Wolf Pack goal, while Locke, Crowder, Dane Byers, Dale Weise and Brodie Dupont were all thwarted on their attempts. Bridgeport's Trevor Smith and Justin DiBenedetto were able to put the puck past Valiquette, giving the baby Islanders the extra point and their second shootout win over their rivals this season.
The action got underway on Friday, when the Pack played host to the 12-10-2-2 Marlies. P.A. Parenteau announced his return to the AHL with a pair of assists, as the Pack took a 3-1 lead in the opening period on goals from Dane Byers, Mike Hoffman and Corey Potter. Byers, who was named the fifth captain in Wolf Pack history a week earlier, added another goal on the power play in the second period, giving him eight on the season.
Corey Locke was certainly happy to have Parenteau back in town, and celebrated with assists on both of Byers' goals, as well as Potter's power play marker, increasing his league-leading scoring totals to 12 goals and 26 assists for 38 points in 32 games.
The weekend didn't start out well, as the Pack opened it with yet another loss, their sixth straight, 5-2 to the Portland Pirates.? The team was able to take a 1-1 tie into the third period of the always-competitive match-up, but that was largely due to the play of goaltender Chad Johnson, who'd been returned to Hartford the day before in order to get in some playing time.? Johnson was solid in the second frame, giving up? just one goal as the team in front of him allowed 15 shots on his net while putting up only three of their own.? Newly demoted defenseman Matt Gilroy was whistled for a penalty 42 seconds into the final period, and 15 seconds later the Pirates took their first lead of the game.? Brodie Dupont pulled the Pack even at 4:10 of the period with the team's league-leading tenth shorthanded goal of the season, but Portland re-took the lead 1:47 later and never looked back.
One hallmark of the weekend was the improved play of the Wolf Pack's goaltenders.? Having Johnson back in the cage for two of the weekend's three games certainly helped, but it was veteran backstop Steve Valiquette's near flawless performance in Saturday's 2-1 overtime win against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers that really gave the Pack something to build upon.? Valiquette stopped 25 shots, with the lone goal against coming midway through the third period when defenseman Corey Potter's botched pass put the puck on an unguarded Matt Martin's stick right in the slot.? Fortunately, Dale Weiss came through in overtime, giving the Pack their first victory since Black Friday.
Much has already been written on the performance of newly demoted New York Rangers backup goaltender Steve Valiquette, who's exile to Hartford was meant to help find his game.? If this weekend is anything to go by, a search party may be required to accomplish that feat.? That's not to say the weekend of misery was his fault.? Yes, Valiquette gave up 10 goals on 47 shots in 72 minutes of play.? His partner in goal, Matt Zaba, didn't fare much better, surrendering 10 goals on 56 shots in 108 minutes in net.? But just as poor was the performance of the team in front of them.? The Wolf Pack played sloppy, uninspired hockey this weekend -- particularly to start and finish the trip -- and got the spanking they deserved, losing 7-1 to the Monarchs on Friday, 4-1 to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday and tying the franchise mark for largest margin of defeat in a 9-2 shellacking by the defending Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears on Sunday.
Valiquette got the call to start the weekend and looked extremely uncomfortable from the very beginning, giving up three goals on the first nine shots he faced before getting pulled at 9:21 of the first period.? Zaba came on in relief, but failed to provide any, letting two of the four shots he faced though, including a shorthanded tally by former Ranger draft pick Marc-Andre Cliche.? Shorthanded goals became a bit of a theme over the weekend as the Pack power play give up three, while scoring just once on 15 attempts with the man advantage.? In fact, prior to scoring with 1:37 remaining in Sunday's match, the once powerful power play unit had been held scoreless in 26 attempts stretching over eight games.
The week started better than it ended, with a systematic 4-1 defeat of the Lowell Devils, who'd entered the week tied for the top spot in the division.? Dale Weise had a pair of goals in the contest and finished the week with four points in four games, upping his totals to eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points.? Those numbers leave the surging sophomore just four points shy of last year's totals -- in 50 less games.
Bobby Sanguinetti had a two point night as well, tallying two assists in what turned out to be his first and last game of the week with the Wolf Pack.? The next day, the second year pro was rewarded for for leading all AHL defensemen in scoring with a call-up to New York, where he played his first three NHL games as a sub for injured veteran Wade Redden.? Sanguinetti was scoreless and a minus-1 in his inaugural NHL stint, a figure made more impressive when you consider the Rangers were outscored 18-6 during the span.? With Redden ready to resume skating with the club, Sanguinetti was returned to the Wolf Pack on Monday, but he heads back to Connecticut's capital knowing he'll be the first one called upon should another defensman go down to injury.
The Wolf Pack opened week by hosting the the Binghamton Senators on Wednesday. It was the second and final meeting of the season for the two clubs and the result was only slightly better for the Pack, which had fallen 5-3 to the baby Sens in Binghamton on opening night.? Unlike in that game, goals were at a premium on this time, with each team only able to muster one apiece through 65 minutes of play.
As it was, the Pack needed a late power play goal from Paul Crowder with 3:22 remaining in regulation to force the match to overtime.? The team rallied to kill off a holding penalty whistled against defenseman Ilkka Heikkinen in the extra frame and send the game to a shootout, but none of the Pack's shooters were able to put the puck past Binghamton goaltender Andy Chiodo. At the other end of the ice, where Chad Johnson was playing in his first professional shootout, two of the first three shooters for the Senators beat the rookie netminder, resulting in a the 2-1 Binghamton victory.
He got off to a far less impressive start with the Hartford Wolf Pack, however.? After being pulled in his first professional start, the 23-year old University of Alaska-Fairbanks alum went on to put up a mediocre .871 save percentage and a 3.66 goals against average over his first six games, earning a 2-3-0 record as both he and the team in front of him struggled out of the gate.
That all changed on Halloween, when Johnson donned his Superman cape and stopped 17 shots to earn his first pro shut out.? In seven straight starts since, Clarke Kent's alter ego has remained in costume, compiling a 6-1-0 record with a stunning 1.13 goals against average and .960 save percentage.
The Pack started the weekend's festivities with a trip to the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence to face the baby Bruins, the team they'd embarrassed with a 7-0 shutout defeat just six days earlier.? While the score wasn't quite as lopsided on Friday, the result was the same, with Hartford outpacing the Bruins by a 5-3 margin.
Brodie Dupont ended a nine game goalless drought with a pair of tallies -- his first multi-goal game as a pro -- and finished plus-3 en route to earning first star honors.? P.A. Parenteau, Evgeny Grachev, and Jordan Owens each finished with a goal and an assist.? Also worth note is the plus-4 performance by Corey Potter, who showed signs that he might finally be adapting to the Wolf Pack's new, aggressive style of play.? Chad Johnson got his third consecutive start in goal, stopping 29 shots to improve his record to 5-3-0-0 on the season.
As if the weekend hadn't been dramatic enough, the club finished off with a -- literally -- last second overtime victory against the Atlantic Division-leading Manchester Monarchs on Sunday afternoon. Corey Locke, who's seven point weekend earned him an AHL/Reebok Player of the Week nomination, swept home a rebound with less than a second remaining in the extra period to give the Wolf Pack its fourth win in five games and even the team's record at 6-6-0-0.
The Wolf Pack entered the weekend minus leading scorer P.A. Parenteau and top line left wing Dane Byers, both of whom had been recalled by the New York Rangers.? Their absence was no excuse for the complete lack of effort displayed by those who remained to face the Bears on Friday, however.? The defending champs outworked their hosts in every area of the ice, sending them to the locker room at the end of sixty minutes to a chorus of boos from the home fans.
But first came one last road loss, against the Adirondack Phantoms on Friday.? In the first ever game between the two franchises in Glens Falls, the Wolf Pack got power play goals from P.A. Parenteau and Dane Byers, but gave up early goals in each of the first two periods and a power play tally midway through the middle frame to lose 3-2, despite an impressive push to tie things up in the third.? Chad Johnson got the start in goal against the Flyers farm team on Friday night, stopping 24 of the 27 shots he faced.
Miika Wiikman took over in goal on Saturday and announced to the world that he was ready to make a play for the Wolf Pack's starting job with a 34-save performance.? A reconfigured top line of Byers, Corey Locke and Parenteau combined for six points to lead the Pack to a 5-2 win over the Lowell Devils.? Ilkka Heikkinen continued to contribute offensively with a pair of assists, and he and fellow defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti continue their battle for the team lead in scoring from the blueline, with each finishing the weekend with nine points in nine games.? Those totals were good enough to tie the pair for fifth in league scoring by defensemen.
The first loss came at the hands of the Portland Pirates, one of only three teams in the AHL that finished the weekend with a worse record than the Pack.? Buffalo's top farm club beat their Atlantic Division rivals in convincing fashion, 6-3, on Friday night.? Looking utterly uninspired, the Wolf Pack spotted their hosts a four goal lead through two periods before rookie Paul Crowder got the visitors on the board early in the third. Sophomore blueliner Bobby Sanguinetti followed with his first goal of the season and speedy Swiss winger Andres Amb?hl scored his first professional goal in North America on a deflection of Sanguinetti's point shot late in the game, but Springfield answered twice to keep the game well out of reach.
In his second start since taking over the starting roll for the injured Matt Zaba (who remains out indefinitely with a concussion) Chad Johnson surrendered six goals on 24 shots against the Falcons, including three goals on six shots in the middle frame.? That paved the way for Miika Wiikman's season debut the next night.
After a lackluster performance in Friday's loss to Providence, the Wolf Pack returned to the Connecticut capital on Saturday for their home opener against the Springfield Falcons.? The Falcons have been the Wolf Pack's whipping boys in recent years and Saturday's game proved no different as the Pack cruised to a decisive 7-3 win over the Oilers' AHL affiliate.? P.A. Parenteau scored his first hat trick in a Wolf Pack jersey and free agent signing Corey Locke added two goals and an assist to pace the Pack in a typical, scrum-filled rivalry game.
The win came at a cost, however, as the team lost starting goaltender Matt Zaba to a concussion after he was tagged with an elbow to the head during a race for a lose puck with Springfield's Liam Reddux in the closing seconds of the first period.
?We?re glad that Pashnin is in our system,? Clarke began.? ?We know that he was the first [pick] in the KHL [draft].? That became a deciding factor in our selection,? the Rangers? draft day decision maker admitted.? ?Why so low? Unfortunately, the risk that Russians will want to make a career in the KHL is still great,? he explained. ?We still hope that Pashnin will play for the Rangers.? But we didn?t want to take too great a risk.? What if all of a sudden CSKA offers him more money and the guy stays in the KHL??Rotter: So the Rangers won't be involved in one of those cases of smuggling a Russian player over to the US. Damn, I love those. Still taking Pashnin is a good move, the later rounds are made for taking international players with potential and hoping that in a few years they come over at a time where they don't need much more seasoning. For more information look up Lundqvist, Henrik.