November 4, 2013

AHL Journal: Veteran Johnson leading the Pack

By Mike Miccoli

Aaron Johnson is giving the Hartford Wolfpack exactly what they need: consistent, veteran leadership.

The Wolfpack currently own the best record in the Northeast Division with a 7-3-0-2 record in 12 games, even among recent call-ups to the New York Rangers that have taken away many of the team’s top scorers. The consistency shown from Johnson has stabilized the defense and provided an offensive spark from the blue line.

Johnson is currently riding an eight-game point streak where he has three goals and eight assists. Hartford is 4-3-0-1 in that stretch. Out of the Wolfpack’s 12 games, Johnson has at least a point in all but one.

Johnson was a member of the Boston Bruins last season, playing in only ten games while serving as a healthy scratch for the team throughout the playoffs. Once usurped by veteran Wade Redden and rookie defenders Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug in the postseason, it was evident that Johnson would not be re-signed by the team.

The Rangers signed Johnson this offseason to a one-year deal, but he has yet to be amongst the call-ups to the injury-depleted team.

Hartford is the sixth team that Johnson has dressed for in the AHL and if he is called up this season to the Rangers, New York will be his seventh NHL club. Even though Johnson can be considered a journeyman, there’s no question that what he’s doing in Hartford is helping the Wolfpack get off to a good start early.

Through the same amount of games last season, the then-Connecticut Whale had a record of 4-7-1-0. The re-emerged Wolfpack are off to a much better start.

News and Notes

  • Talk about making a statement. After a slow start, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers picked up two crucial, back-to-back wins this weekend, defeating the Worcester Sharks 7-1, and the Norfolk Admirals in a shootout, 4-3. Snapping a five-game winless streak, the Sound Tigers benefitted greatly from an offensive explosion from Mike Halmo (four goals and two assists) and New York Islanders' 5th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Ryan Strome (two goals and three assists). The Sound Tigers will look to carry over their momentum this weekend with games against the Hershey Bears and Adirondack Phantoms.  

  • The Providence Bruins were unable to shore up a win this weekend, after two poor defensive performances against the Manchester Monarchs. Niklas Svedberg was pulled in Friday night's 5-2 loss after allowing four goals on 17 shots. His replacement, Malcolm Subban, allowed three goals on 33 shots in his start on Saturday night. Monarchs' netminder Martin Jones was in net both games for Manchester, picking up his league leading eighth win of the season.

  • In only his second start, Worcester Sharks’ rookie netminder Troy Grosenick earned his first career shutout against the St. John’s Ice Caps. Grosenick had come in relief of Sharks’ starting goalie Harry Sateri on Friday night after he allowed six goals against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Grosenick’s 27-save performance helped the Sharks to bounce back on the weekend. Grosenick’s 2-0 record also raises the question of the fate of Sateri’s starting job in Worcester, with his 3.61 G.A.A. and 1-4 record.

  • Jake Hansen’s stellar two-way play has given the Springfield Falcons a big boost. His +11 is not only a team best, but is tied for tops in the AHL along with Brian Gibbons (Braintree, MA). The Falcons’ 23 goals-against is the second fewest in the Eastern Conference.

The Week Ahead

Friday, November 8

Providence Bruins @ Hartford Wolfpack (7pm)

Worcester Sharks @ Portland Pirates (7pm)

Adirondack Phantoms @ Springfield Falcons (7pm)

Manchester Monarchs @ St. John's Ice Caps (7:30pm)

Saturday, November 9

Bridgeport Sound Tigers @ Hershey Bears (7pm)

Providence Bruins @ Worcester Sharks (7pm)

Manchester Monarchs @ St. John's Ice Caps (7:30pm)

Sunday, November 10

Adirondack Phantoms @ Bridgeport Sound Tigers (3pm)

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins @ Springfield Falcons (3pm)

Portland Pirates @ Worcester Sharks (3pm)

Hartford Wolfpack @ Providence Bruins (3:05pm)

Twitter: @MikeMiccoli