When the Rangers called up Boo Nieves on October 24th to change the look of their fourth line, it was a worthy promotion. However, it could have just as easily been Vinni Lettieri who got the call. At the time, Lettieri had two goals and two assists over his previous three games, giving him four points through six games on the season.
But he has really come up big for the Wolf Pack since. With Nieves called up, Adam Cracknell producing nothing in Hartford, and Adam Tambellini plus Filip Chytil sick/injured, he rose to the occasion. Lettieri has five goals in his last nine games, including in crucial moments in the third period.
Obviously, it is still early in the season. However, for the sake of discussion, Lettieri is on pace for 46.5 points in 76 games. Based on Rob Vollman’s AHL-to-NHL equivalency stat, that would translate to roughly 23.6 points over 82 games in the NHL. It’s particularly encouraging because the majority of his points are coming from goals; some that he is creating by himself. His skating ability and intelligence allow him to make plays away from the puck, such as winning puck races. If he can continue to produce at this rate, then it will be easy to imagine him on the Rangers’ fourth line perhaps as soon as this season.
As mentioned earlier, Hartford has been dealing with injuries to Chytil and Tambellini; two of their top offensive forwards. As a result, they have understandably had some trouble generating offense. Fortunately, goaltender Alexandar Georgiev has been strong in net for Hartford during this stretch. His most impressive performance was on the 11th against Bridgeport, where Hartford was outshot 44-25 but still won 2-1 thanks to Georgiev’s 43 saves. Here were a few of his saves from the past two games.
Georgiev started the season out in underwhelming fashion. Through his first five starts plus one relief appearance, he owned an .877 save percentage, and Chris Nell started to get the majority of starts. However, Georgiev has been lights out recently, with a .941 save percentage in his past four starts. It’s particularly impressive given that two of the goals against came during three-on-three overtime, where almost every shot is dangerous in nature. Largely thanks to Georgiev, Hartford went 2-0-2 in those games despite missing players and suspect defense.