AHL All-Stars Corey Locke, Bobby Sanguinetti Helping Wolf Pack Establish Continuity

AHL All-Stars Corey Locke, Bobby Sanguinetti Helping Wolf Pack Establish Continuity The Harftord Wolf Pack's biggest obstacle this season has been consistency.

Given that this is, after all, the AHL, that notion shouldn't be too shocking.

"Every team goes through that," said team spokesman Bob Crawford. "It's a given in this league, and we've been lucky that the Rangers haven't tended to pull guys up for the sake of shuffling the deck."

The Wolf Pack — the New York Rangers' American Hockey League affiliate — currently sit in fourth place in the league standings. At 21-15, they are eight points behind the first-place Manchester Monarchs, but in a competitive league where each team's roster seems to shuffle monumentally on any given day, a record that is over .500 should never be taken for granted.

"Our division is really competitive," Crawford said. "Any team on any given night can beat any other given team, and our team is still searching for that consistent effort."

This season, in its quest to achieve that elusive sense of continuity that so many teams struggle to find, Hartford has been led by AHL All-Stars Corey Locke and Bobby Sanguinetti.

Locke, who will play for the Candian All-Stars in this year's festivities on Jan. 18 and 19 in Portland, Maine, is a veteran of the Wolf Pack's system at age 25. The center has registered 17 goals and 30 assists for 47 points in 41 games this season. Locke excels at the Marc Savard style of hockey – meaning it's not necessarily his goal-scoring ability that makes him such a valuable asset to the Wolf Pack, but instead, it is his unique playmaking abilities that bring out the best in his teammates.

"He's not very big or lightning fast, but he's a real creator," Crawford said. "He can slow the play down a little bit and find holes and jump into holes. He has unbelievable instincts of where to go and where to put the puck."

Locke has proven especially effective in the clutch, notching four game-winning goals and 12 power-play goals this season.

"He's certainly a player that wherever he's been, whether the juniors or the AHL, he's always been a top guy on whatever team he's on," Crawford said.

Opposing Locke in the All-Star affairs will be teammate Sanguinetti, who will be facing off for PlanetUSA.

AHL All-Stars Corey Locke, Bobby Sanguinetti Helping Wolf Pack Establish Continuity The former first-round pick in 2006 — who is often described as an offensive-defenseman — has registered six goals and 20 assists in 36 games in 2009-10. The 6-foot-3 21-year-old led the Wolf Pack in scoring in the 2009 postseason after tallying five points in six games, and he led all Hartford defensemen in regular-season points with 42 in 78 games in 2008-09.

"He's a young, up-and-coming prospect," Crawford said. "He's a good-sized guy — not terribly physical, good with the puck, really quick with really good instincts offensively and creatively. He's almost like a fourth forward out there."

While the Wolf Pack have had no shortage of skill in 2009-10, it has had trouble honing that skill in order to produce wins. Finding a way to establish chemistry night in and night out will prove to be their biggest challenge in the second half of the season as they push toward the playoffs.

"Every team battles consistency," Crawford said, "whether it's because of lineup changes, roster changes, what the [NHL] club's needs are, and the fact that by and large, teams are so young that guys haven't figured out the consistent effort that they need to be successful and give themselves a chance at the next level. To be consistent — to be the same player 80 nights a year and show the scouts and the organization what you can do — that's the challenge."

It may be difficult, but it's a challenge Hartford is confident it can conquer. It's not just about Locke and Sanguinetti leading the way. It's about the entire roster coming together on the ice every single night. And if they can do it, the Wolf Pack will be very, very dangerous going forward. 

"If we can get all those guys pulling on the same rope night after night," Crawford said, "we've got a great chance in the second half."

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