Belleville 5 Hershey 2

I’m a little late in posting this as I’m dealing with the joy of having my wallet stolen (commiserations to others who have gone through this process).

After three straight loses the BSens put one in the win column by beating the injury-depleted Bears. Christian Jaros was back from Ottawa and PTO Ethan Werek (who has one very devoted Twitter fan) joined a slightly different lineup and proved very productive. Before my observations, here are the basics (you can see the box score here):
Shots: 35-19
PP: 1-7 (the first was abbreviated)
PK: 5-6 (one 5-on-3, which resulted in the goal)
Goaltender: Danny Taylor, who I had making six big saves; Andrew Hammond served as the back-up

The Opposition
The injury-deleted Bears were forced to start their third goalie and it showed; Hershey had good puck movement on the powerplay, but once they got behind in the game they struggled to generate much sustained pressure.

The Goals
1.  Hershey 5-on-3 PP McCormick doesn’t collapse back far enough to take the man in the slot who bangs in the rebound
2. DiDomenico picks up a loose puck at the blueline and throws it at the net–Werek bangs in a juicy rebound
3. PP Paul banks it off Werek in front
4. Hershey clean faceoff win over Chlapik results in a one-timer
5. Gagne finishes off a 2-on-1 (great shot short side)–Englund with the pass
6. Rodewald scores off a loose puck right in front (phantom assists were awarded to O’Brien and Paul)
7. McCormick hits the post of the empty net and DiDomenico scores off the rebound

Scoring chances (11): Rodewald (x3), Werek (x2), DiDomenico (x2, including a breakaway), Randell, Chlapik (pp), Gagne, O’Brien (breakaway)
The BSens scored on nearly half their chances and despite the win the number is similar to their loss to Syracuse and their Chabotless numbers in general

The Roster
I’d suspected Francis Perron was injured rather than scratched, but nothing published said one way or another about it until I heard the BSens broadcast for this game (AHL Live finally figured that out)–were it not for that I’d still not know (he’s out with the flu apparently). I’m still assuming Sexton is out due to injury or illness, but again, nothing official (this may be true of Flanagan and Reinhart as well, but that’s speculation). Donaghey was a healthy scratch and was sent to Brampton subsequently (Hogberg was sent down before the game–he played the following night, losing 4-2 with a .903 save percentage and earning the game’s third star). Mike Blunden sat out the game due to a suspension, which created space for Werek to play.

Lines
Paul-O’Brien-Rodewald
McCormick-DiDomenico-Werek
Ciampini-Chlapik-Randell
Dunn-Gagne
Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Englund-Jaros
Lajoie-Erkamps
Murray
Special teams and 11 forwards meant these combinations weren’t kept consistently, although the so-called first line remained largely intact, as did the first D-pair. Murray played more than Erkamps and Lajoie logged similar 5-on-5 TOI to Englund.

Special Teams
Powerplay
McCormick-Chlapik-DiDomenico/Murray-Jaros
Werek-Paul-Rodewald/Lajoie-Burgdoerfer (scored)
McCormick-Chlapik-DiDomenico/Lajoie-Jaros (used once)
Werek-Paul-Rodewald/Murray-Burgdoerfer (used once)
Ciampini-Paul-Rodewald/Lajoie-Burgdoerfer (used once)
4 on 4
Paul-O’Brien/Lajoie-Burgdoerfer
Penalty Kill
Paul-McCormick/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Paul-O’Brien/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Paul-McCormick/Sieloff-Jaros
O’Brien-Rodewald/Englund-Erkamps
Paul-McCormick/Englund-Jaros (used once)
Paul-O’Brien/Sieloff-Erkamps (used once)
Paul-O’Brien/Englund-Jaros (used once)
DiDomenico-Rodewald/Englund-Jaros (used once)
DiDomenico-Randell/Englund-Erkamps (used once)
McCormick/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer (5-on-3) (scored on)
This looks chaotic, but the principal forwards aren’t that different from the last game other than Blunden is absent with Rodewald as the primary replacement; on defense there were three main pairings who were rotated through various forwards.

Notable Plays
Chlapik (x2), Ciampini, and DiDomenico had nice steals in the first (the former leading to one of Rodewald’s scoring chances); both Englund and Burgdoerfer made key defensive plays in the second and Paul made one in the third

Notable Blunders/Errors
McCormick and Burgdoerfer took selfish penalties in the first; Murray had a pretty brutal turnover in that period, as did Burgdoerfer in the second and Werek with a pair in the third

McCormick fell awkwardly into the boards early in the second

Player Notes
Burgdoerfer: I’m still not sure what he’s doing on the powerplay, although it’s at least infrequent; otherwise he continued to play his vanilla style
Sieloff: hasn’t shown the physical dimension we saw in game one and while there’s no offensive ability at all he doesn’t make many mistakes
Englund: a better game from him, in large part because he was played less
Murray: pretty quiet night, but over the three games he’s played he’s made at least one catastrophic defensive error in each, so there are issues
Erkamps: most of his TOI is on the PK, which is interesting, but also makes him really hard to assess
Lajoie: I wish he played more–makes mistakes from time-to-time, but I like the offensive creativity and drive
Jaros: I’ve been really impressed with him–all those comparisons to Borowiecki and I keep waiting for him to run around, but he’s been picky about throwing hits and he’s far more aggressive offensively than I’d imagined
Randell: outside of taking bad penalties he’s brought nothing to the table
Dunn: didn’t make any mistakes, so that’s something
Ciampini: I was very happy he only got only one PP shift in the game; should be fourth-line support–I feel like Kleinendorst is forcing him into a scoring role he can’t really fulfill
Gagne: still very raw around the edges, but maybe the goal will give him confidence and earn him a bit more TOI
O’Brien: after logging an insane amount of ice time against Syracuse, Kleinendorst cut him back a little bit and it helped; absolutely clueless offensively, but competent defensively
McCormick: has been caught a couple of times this year cheating high on the PK, which is an issue; he also doesn’t belong on the first PP unit
Rodewald: no idea why he’s on the PK (that’s not a criticism–it just seems random) and he’s not really a puck carrier, but he can finish given the opportunity
Chlapik: for those paying attention he’s generated at least one scoring chance on the powerplay every game this year–you have to wonder how much more production there would be with that unit if it wasn’t anchored by McCormick; he’s got great offensive drive and I think the production will come sooner than later
Paul: his best game of the year–I still expect more, but he was carrying the puck and was starting to drive the play
DiDomenico: sometimes holds on to the puck too long (a habit playing in Europe wouldn’t have helped), but consistently gets offensive chances, which is what you want
Werek: it’s a difficult debate–better than Lemieux, assuredly, but better than Gretzky? It’s a close call. In all seriousness, it’s his first 3-point game in the AHL since January 12th, 2016, when he played for Charlotte; as a veteran player he’ll quickly regress to the mean (defensively he was a nightmare)

It’s great for the BSens to get a win and this is exactly the kind of team they have to beat, since without Chabot they are no match for the elite talent in the league. Speaking of Chabot, he has been returned to the roster (for now), which will make a huge difference on Friday (if he’s still there). As for coaching decisions, Kleinendorst made an adjustment I like (Ciampini off the PP), but is still heavy-handed in his addiction to particular veteran players. We’ll see if he loosens up a bit going forward–I’d like him to scratch Randell, but I’m not expecting it.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

 

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Belleville 2, Syracuse 4

After getting steamrolled by Laval last week the BSens lost two of their best defensemen from those games (Chabot and Jaros) coming in to face the Crunch. The new lineup struggled against the more talented Syracuse roster, who had their way most of the game (only spectacular goaltending from Hammond kept things close). Before my observations, the basics (you can see the box score here):
Shots: 26-43 (four players were tied for the most shots with 3)
PP: 0-4 (includes a 5-on-3)
PK: 10-11 (includes a 5-on-3 and 4-on-3)
Goaltender: Andrew Hammond (39-42) who made ten great saves in my estimation; Taylor backed up

The Opposition
Syracuse has an excellent AHL lineup which includes a former Sen and BSen (Jason Akeson and Cory Conacher). The Crunch are a good puck-possession team and dominated every period except the third (which was roughly even).

The Goals
1. (PP) Burgdoerfer loses a board battle and Paul can’t control a stick off the rebound
2. Erkamps can’t get it out (failed bank off the boards) right as a penalty expires and McCormick had left the zone leaving his man wide open
3. Lajoie starts the rush and DiDomenico scores off a sweet Murray cross-ice pass
4. McCormick scores on a shorthanded breakaway
5. Lajoie can’t tie up the man
6. Long range empty-neter

Scoring Chances (7): DiDomenico (2), McCormick, Chlapik (pp), Rodewald (pp), Paul (hits the post), Randell
Keep in mind that Chabot was responsible for 11 of 27 scoring chances in the previous two games (or 40%, if you prefer), and the volume in this game is almost exactly the average of what you’d have without him in the previous two

The Roster
Recalling all their prospects in Brampton, including tryout Ethan Werek who was given a PTO, there were some interesting decisions made. I’m assuming Sexton was injured rather than scratched, but also out were Perron, Flanagan, Donaghey, and the aforementioned Werek. Dunn (!) played his first game of the season, Rodewald returned from injury, and both Erkamps and Ciampini saw their first action.

Lines
DiDomenico-Chlapik-Rodewald
McCormick-Paul-Gagne
Ciampini-O’Brien-Blunden
Dunn-Reinhart-Randell
Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Englund-Erkamps
Lajoie-Murray
Unlike the last two games Kleinendorst stayed close to his opening lines when the team was 5-on-5 (although Randell’s 10 minute misconduct created some variation in the third). The main note here is that Gagne did not consistently play on the second line (replaced by either Blunden, O’Brien, or more rarely, Reinhart). The defense pairings were actually very consistent throughout.

Special Teams
Powerplay
McCormick-Chlapik-Ciampini/Murray-DiDomenico
Rodewald-Paul-Blunden/Murray-Lajoie
On the 5-on-3 Burgdoerfer played the point, DiDomenico slid down, and there was no Ciampini
4 on 4
Chlapik-DiDomenico/Murray-Lajoie (both times this occurred)
Penalty Kill
Paul-McCormick/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer (scored on)
O’Brien-Blunden/Englund-Erkamps
Paul-McCormick/Englund-Erkamps
O’Brien-Blunden/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Paul-Blunden/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
O’Brien-McCormick/Englund-Erkamps
O’Brien-McCormick/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
McCormick-Blunden/Englund-Erkamps (scored shorthanded)
O’Brien-Randell/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer (once)
Reinhart-Dunn/Lajoie-Murray (once at the end of a PK)
Dunn-Randell/Englund-Erkamps (final 30 seconds of the game)
Paul/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer (for the 4-on-3)
Blunden/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer (for the 5-on-3)
This looks like a mountain of combinations, but the defense pairings never changed and the same four forwards (Paul, McCormick, Blunden, and O’Brien) played the vast majority of the time, simply in varying combinations.

Notable Plays
Good defensive play: Murray (x2), Englund (shot block on a 3-on-1), O’Brien, Lajoie, Erkamps, Blunden
Offensive play: McCormick batted in a puck on the BSens first powerplay, but it was ruled a high stick
Crossbar: saved a goal in the second

Notable Blundens/Errors
Bad penalties: Randell (x4!), O’Brien, Murray, McCormick
Dangerous turnovers: McCormick (x2), Murray, Lajoie (he blocked the attempt it resulted in)

Hammond was tripped (no call) and fell awkwardly in the first, seemingly shaken up initially, but it clearly didn’t impact his overall performance

Player Notes
Macoy Erkamps: it was interesting seeing him deployed largely as a penalty killer; mostly invisible, which is a plus–he made a great block in the slot in the second and then was part of the play responsible for the second goal against; no sign of his inexplicable positive effect seen in Binghamton
Andreas Englund: I’m not the biggest fan of him, but on the whole he was solid; made a great shot block on a 3-on-1 in the first, while making a pair of pretty bad turnovers (one in the second and the other in the third; fortunately none resulted in scoring chances against)
Erik Burgdoerfer: gets a ton of ice time and has precious little to show for it; his only notable play in the game was losing the puck battle that resulted in the first goal
Patrick Sieloff: it’s hard to remember a time where the puck was on his stick, but he didn’t make any notable mistakes so that’s a win for him
Maxime Lajoie: the game had its ups and downs for him–the kind of thing you expect from a rookie–I still think he should play more given the team’s struggles to move the puck without Chabot; notable moments were creating the rush that resulted in the team’s first (and so far only) 5-on-5 goal; had a bad turnover that he made the save on; a pair of good defensive plays; finally not being able to tie up his man for the third goal against
Jordan Murray: no one noticed, including me, that I didn’t give him a breakdown in his first game (oops!); he played a lot tonight when the team wasn’t shorthanded and it was largely positive; he made an excellent pass for the first goal along with two good defensive plays–the only thing marring his evening was a dumb penalty in the first
Tyler Randell: took four unprovoked minors–lazy, selfish penalties; he should be benched because of it, but I doubt he will be
Vincent Dunn: one of his major issues is skating–you can’t be an effective pest if you can’t skate; other than taking a man with him to create a 4-on-4 in the first he did nothing
Daniel Ciampini: why he was on the powerplay is beyond me–completely invisible
Max Reinhart: why is he on the fourth line (play him or don’t)? Barely played making it really hard to assess (the only note I made was a turnover)
Gabriel Gagne: speaking of barely played, although he was on the ice a bit more than Reinhart, he’s someone else who was only noticeable for a turnover–why not put him on the powerplay? Do something with him at least
Jack Rodewald: returned from injury and was largely invisible (nothing negative at least)
Filip Chlapik: needs to play more–for a team with anemic offense you have to let your horses run and Kleinendorst has been a bit too tight with the reins; most notable moments of the game were a scoring chance on the PP and then a backhander into the slot that was loose in Leighton’s feet (net empty, game is 3-2), but no one could get to it
Nick Paul: missed the second game, but played an absolutely ton tonight; did very little offensively (did hit a post), wears the goat horns on the first goal against and was responsible for a 3-on-1 against–also took a pair of minors; not the worst night of his life, but you expect more
Max McCormick: the org sensation scored–shorthanded naturally, as he still looks like a fish out of water on the powerplay; technically he did score on the PP, but it was banged in with a high stick; defensively there were some issues–surrendering a 2-on-1, passing to the wrong team in his own zone (Syracuse missed the net), and taking a dumb penalty while already shorthanded. He is what he is–a grinder who can chip in–but he gets far more ice time than is warranted
Chris DiDomenico: I’m becoming convinced he can contribute regularly, albeit it’s hard to do so when his team is shorthanded for half the game; two scoring chances (including a goal) mixed with two turnovers isn’t bad for what he does
Jim O’Brien: there is no escaping Jimothy, although thankfully he wasn’t put on the powerplay tonight; he played a ton and that TOI resulted in: a good defensive play and a dumb penalty. I didn’t note it at the time, but on an odd man situation in the zone he inexplicably skated out beyond the blueline with the puck to go change–Jimothy does what Jimothy does
Michael Blunden: there’s also no escaping the captain, who was oddly good on the draw in the game; in his ungodly amount of TOI he made a good defensive play (a nice little stick lift)–c’est tous. Does he need to play in all situations? No. Does he? Absolutely.

The BSens were inordinately undisciplined this game (very Luke Richardson-style), which included a brawl near the end of the game (not bench-clearing, but bench-involving). This was not a particularly physical game–a few big hits, sure, but there really wasn’t an obvious inciting incident. I’d like to think Kleinendorst will clamp down on it–no team can afford to give up as many powerplays as they did–and so many lazy penalties as well.

With Christian Jaros sent back down I expect not just defensive changes (presumably Erkamps sits), but shifts in the forwards as well. I’d guess Perron and Flanagan will draw back in (Ciampini and Gagne likely scratched, although I’d dump Randell in a heartbeat). Werek presumably will play as well, given his newly signed PTO.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Thoughts on Belleville, ECHL Situation Update, and More

80s scoring

I grew up watching hockey in the 1980s, so whenever there’s a brief bump in scoring I want to get excited about it, but I’m not. We saw something similar to this in 2005, but the conservative folk who run the league freaked out and after a couple of months things reverted to the modern version of the dead puck era. How long will this scoring surge last? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’d imagine not very long.

belleville sens

Kurt Kleinendorst made some interesting comments in the wake of the weekend loss. The ones that stood out:

we have a very, very young team — and I’m not making excuses

He is making excuses and it’s not even true–Belleville is the 10th oldest team (the oldest is Texas, the youngest Tucson), but the variation is very small (22-25 is the entire range). The only core element that’s youth dependent is the blueline–the goaltending is veteran, the forward group is experienced–making it an odd thing for him to say.

(Marcus) Hogberg is a young guy with a phenomenal future and we’ll try to get him some games at some point in the ECHL

So as expected Belleville will go with the Taylor-Hammond duo to start (the latter’s AHL numbers have never been good, but there’s no option to send him to the ECHL, so Kleinendorst’s hands are tied as long as he’s on the roster).

But we’re here to win too. I’ve got to be very clear about that. … But winning allows our team to develop farther, rather than losing. We’re committed to winning and making the playoffs.

In a way this is exactly what you’d expect him to say, but given the last two horrendous seasons for the Sens AHL affiliate (59-82-11) this is a bold task, especially given the veteran detritus GM Randy Lee has shoved into the lineup. It suggests that Kleinendorst will lean on veterans in lieu of prospects–although without a certifiable scorer and a thin blueline, I’m not sure there’s much point to such a push. I’d rather see young players play.

Belleville’s already thin blueline got a lot thinner when both Thomas Chabot and Christian Jaros were recalled by Ottawa. The BSens don’t play again until Friday (the 13th), so it’s possible one or both could be returned by then (given Boucher’s predilection for veterans, Jaros‘ is almost assured), but in the meantime Macoy Erkamps was recalled from Brampton (the ECHL team’s season hasn’t started yet). [After I initially posted this Cody Donaghey and Daniel Ciampini were recalled.]

In other roster moves, Brendan Woods, now healthy, was released by Belleville (as expected) and signed a PTO with Utica.

small sample size

Speaking of Belleville, Spencer Blake has taken up Jeff Ulmer’s AHL mantel over at The Silver Seven and in the midst of his first effort he said this:

[Standouts] McCormick also threw five pucks towards the net and performed his usual role of gritty forechecker as well as he’s always done.

I get the feeling Spencer looked at the stat sheet trying to find something of interest about the game and focused in on one of the few for the BSens given the shutout (my suspicions were raised when he got Binghamton’s powerplay units wrong for the game). McCormick had five shots, which is great, but he played a ton and it didn’t result in anything. With eight powerplays in the game and a ton of TOI, he should be putting pucks on net–it’s par for the course, especially for a guy who isn’t a passer (46 career goals versus 40 career assists). At best he was average and his invisibility in the second game doesn’t help his cause–I expect a lot more from a veteran player like that.

brampton

Confirmation of the Brampton affiliation has come, albeit not officially. The Sens have cut their ties to Wichita, apparently including the promise of a goalie. How much latitude they’ll have with Montreal’s affiliate is unknown, but given Belleville’s limited depth there’s only so many to send there anyway.

kevin lee

The powerhouse that is Kevin Lee (not the UFC fighter) urged the people on Twitter to follow me, which was very kind of him. I wondered what the impact would be–turns out it was pretty close to the potency of Brianne from years ago. Thanks to him and to anyone who doesn’t follow him, you should!

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 2, Laval 6

Happy Thanksgiving to those of us living in the frozen north–I bring you more thoughts via 60 minutes of grainy AHL Live en francais. Coach Kleinendorst’s minimal tweaks to the lineup couldn’t solve the mismatch (Laval is fun to watch). In two full games the team has yet to score 5-on-5, managing just one shot on goal in the third period. While the result wasn’t pretty, there were still positives we can look at, but first, the basics (the box score):
Shots: 19/46 (Chabot lead the way with 6; DiDomenico was next with 3)
PP: 2-6 (gave up a shorthanded goal; first and last pp’s abbreviated; there was a 5-on-3)
PK: 3-4 (first cut very short by a Laval penalty)
Goaltender: Danny Taylor (40-46), who by my count made 5 great saves; I’m curious why Kleinendorst played him back-to-back with both Hammond and Hogberg as options

The Goals

1. Chabot scores on a one-timer on the powerplay (set up by Jaros)
2. DiDomenico bangs in Chabot’s rebound on the powerplay (5-on-3)
3. Laval: Perron doesn’t pick up the late man who is wide open in front
4. Laval: DiDomenico turns it over and O’Brien doesn’t pick up his check who is wide open in front
5. Laval: bang-bang play–McCormick a little out of position on the PK, but I’m not sure how much blame to give him
6. Laval: Murray turns the puck over which leads immediately to the goal
7. Laval: Sexton pass is intercepted leading to a 2-on-1
8. Laval: DiDomenico pinches after rotating to defense leading to a 3-on-1 shorthanded

Scoring chances (14): Chabot 3 (goal-pp), DiDomenico 3 (goal-pp, sh), Chlapik 2 (ppx2), Blunden, Sexton, Jaros (pp), Murray, O’Brien, Reinhart

The Roster
Nick Paul was scratched and I believe (but haven’t seen it confirmed) that he is injured; Vincent Dunn was scratched again, Hogberg sat as the third goalie, while defenseman Jordan Murray played in his first game as the seventh defenseman. Jack Rodewald, Chris Driedger, and PTO Brendan Woods remain injured.

Lines*
Chlapik-DiDomenico-Sexton
McCormick-O’Brien-Blunden
Flanagan-Reinhart-Randell
Gagne-Perron-DiDomenico
*Most common combos–once again Kleinendorst moved away from his initial lineup fairly early (O’Brien played a ton, Reinhart significantly less)
Chabot-Jaros
Lajoie-Burgdoerfer
Englund, Sieloff, Murray
Chabot, Jaros, and Burgdoerfer got the lion’s share of the ice time; Englund played most frequently with Chabot, but just like the previous game his ice time slipped away as the game went on; Sieloff didn’t see a lot of 5-on-5 time, as in the previous game; Murray didn’t get a shift until halfway through the game and then was sprinkled in regularly with varying partners

Special Teams
Powerplay
Chlapik-DiDomenico-Sexton/Chabot-Jaros (scored both pp goals and gave up a shortie)
McCormick-Reinhart-Blunden/Lajoie-Burgdoerfer (Perron centered this unit once during the last 30 seconds of the game)
The first unit received the lion’s share of the ice time
Penalty Kill
Sexton-McCormick/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Sexton-McCormick/Englund-Chabot
Reinhart-Blunden/Englund-Chabot
O’Brien-Blunden/Englund-Jaros
Sexton-McCormick/Englund-Jaros (gave up the pp goal)
Sexton-McCormick/Englund-Sieloff
O’Brien-Randell/Murray-Burgdoefer
O’Brien-DiDomenico/Chabot-Jaros
Yes, this many PK combinations during just 4 shorthanded situations

Notable Plays
For those tracking at home, Chabot had or was responsible for six of the team’s fourteen scoring chances
Sieloff made a great defensive play in the first to deny a scoring chance
Chlapik makes a steal which provides Sexton his scoring chance of the evening
Jaros’ scoring chance on the powerplay in the second period is followed by a great defensive play by him to prevent one the other way
Chabot denies a 2-on-1

Notable Blundens/Errors
Chlapik misses a pass from Chabot on the powerplay that leads to a breakaway (off the save Chlapik gets scoring chance of his own)
In the first period on the same sequence Englund had three brutal giveaways in his own zone leading to two quality scoring chances against
DiDomenico turnover in the first leads to a scoring chance against
Sexton does the exact same thing shortly afterwards

Player Notes
Thomas Chabot: I only hope fans in Belleville get to see him before Ottawa takes him away; I’m not sure how this team functions without him (something I’ve been saying for awhile); Kleinendorst actually cut his ice time half way through when the game was close–I’m not sure if he felt he was overplaying him, needed to give the other blueliners more TOI, or what
Maxime Lajoie: although he wasn’t as good as he was in the previous game, I still think he should play more as he’s the only player other than Chabot who can reliably move the puck
Christian Jaros: a little quieter than the previous game, but he isn’t hurting the team (with all the comparisons to Borowiecki I was expecting him to run all over the ice trying to hit people–instead he’s very conscientious about his positioning)
Erik Burgdoerfer: for a guy who doesn’t do much he gets a lot of ice time–granted, he doesn’t make many mistakes either
Patrick Sieloff: decent defensively, but doesn’t do anything with the puck
Andreas Englund: the struggles continue–it isn’t pretty
Tyler Randell/Kyle Flanagan: played more than the previous tilt, but just like it, did nothing notably good or bad (there was one play that almost resulted in an offensive chance, but that’s it)
Gabriel Gagne: played even less than yesterday and did nothing of note
Francis Perron: didn’t play much and, other than a defensive gaffe on the third Laval goal, did nothing of note
Jim O’Brien: we saw far too much of Jimothy–his instincts are pretty bad, but in terms of specifics he made two good offensive plays (a nice pass to Chabot and a scoring chance of his own), along with a defensive gaffe on the second Laval goal
Mike Blunden: better than last game due to fewer mistakes, but given all the ice time he gets didn’t add anything
Max McCormick: played a ton with nothing to show for it
Max Reinhart: I’m not sure what Kleinendorst is doing with him–he played third-line minutes and while he’s not dominant he at least shows up offensively
Chris DiDomenico: while I don’t think he’s as advertised and has struggled defensively, the offense was more apparent
Filip Chlapik: he’s a fun player to watch–more speed than I was expecting (given the scouting when he was drafted) and good instincts
Ben Sexton: has had a ton of ice time and plays in all situations–I think that might need to be tweaked a bit

Kleinendorst continued to stick with veterans and it just didn’t work. Five-on-five the team really struggled, with virtually non-existent offense when Chabot is off the ice. I’d like him to give Perron and Gagne more ice time–they have offensive potential, after all, so why not see what they can do? McCormick, Blunden, and possibly Sexton should play less. And why keep Dunn around? Recall Ciampini and leave Dunn to rot in Brampton. On defense I’m not sure what he does–I’d sit Englund and try someone else (Murray for a full game or call-up Erkamps or Donaghey), and I’d play Lajoie more and take Burgdoerfer off the powerplay (replace him with a forward or one of the seventh defensemen, all of whom are nominally good with the puck). What do I expect to happen? Probably not a lot, barring a Chabot recall. I still think Kleinendorst will give the status quo a month before starting to rattle the cages. At the least someone other than Taylor will get a start next week.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 0, Laval 3

It was interesting watching Belleville’s inaugural game (the grainy AHL Live feed reminded me of my parents 12′ colour TV from the 70s; the streaming service failed to attach the Belleville radio feed so it was en francais or silence–allez les Bleus! for me last night). In many ways the game was exactly what I expected: an early reliance on veterans (in terms of playing time), difficulty in scoring, and some exceptional play from particular rookies. Before my observations, the basics (you can see the box score here):
Shots: 26/25 (Chabot and McCormick lead the way with 5 shots each; Jaros had 4)
PP: 0-8 (two of these lasted about 30 seconds)
PK: 2-3
Goaltender: Danny Taylor (22-24), who made four great saves; Hammond backed up

The Opposition
Laval has an excellent AHL-lineup, including a top defenseman (Taormina) and former NHLer Peter Holland; they were very fast and outside of special teams activity the BSens struggled to keep up, leading to a lot of odd-man situations

The Goals
1. Burgdoerfer loses his check who is wide open to score
2. Chabot gets beat, so Englund comes over to cover for him and Blunden doesn’t pick up the late man
3. Sexton tries to pass through the player with an empty net behind him

The Roster
Ben Harpur was recalled to Ottawa prior to the start of the game (I’m not sure if Englund or Sieloff would have been scratched if he stayed). The only actual scratches for the game were Marcus Hogberg, Vincent Dunn and Jordan Murray–Jack Rodewald, Chris Driedger, and PTO Brendan Woods are all injured.

Lines*
Chlapik-DiDomenico-Sexton
McCormick-Reinhart-Blunden
Paul-Gagne-Perron
Randell, O’Brien, Flanagan
*the most frequent combinations; with the latter three mixed in haphazardly due to all the special team play (Flanagan and Randell played the least)
Chabot-Jaros
Lajoie-Burgdoerfer
Sieloff/Englund
Defense combos also varied throughout the game; Chabot was sometimes saddled with Englund, while Sieloff would rotate in with Burgdoerfer (he played the least, followed by Englund)

Special Teams
Powerplay*
Chlapik-DiDomenico-Sexton/Jaros-Chabot
McCormick-Reinhart-Blunden/Lajoie-Burgdoerfer
Perron-Gagne-Paul/Lajoie-Burgdoerfer
*the third option was used only once; there was also a slight variation of the second unit to start, with Gagne playing instead of McCormick;, Perron joined the the second unit late in the seventh powerplay (the beginning of a line change that presumably would have been the third group when completed)
Penalty Kill
McCormick-Sexton/Burgdoerfer-Englund (on-ice for the goal against)
McCormick-Sexton/Sieloff-Englund
Paul-Flanagan/Jaros-Englund
Blunden-Reinhart/Jaros-Englund

Scoring chances (13)
Chlapik 2 (both pp), Sexton 2. McCormick 2 (one sh), Reinhart (post), Burgdoerfer (pp), Perron (pp), Jaros, Blunden, Reinhart, DiDomenico

Notable Plays
Five of the team’s thirteen scoring chances were due to great passes by Chabot or (in one case) a deliberate rebound
Lajoie stops Holland 1-on-1 in the second; he also made a great pass for Blunden’s scoring chance
Jaros made a great block in the third to prevent a scoring chance
Sieloff threw a huge hit in the second which immediately resulted in a fight; he was then run in the third period because of it (whether you see this activity as useful or not is up to you)

Notable Blundens*/Errors (excluding goals)
Blunden – gave up a 2-on-1 in the first; later gave the puck away in his own zone resulting in a scoring chance
Englund – gave up a 2-on-1 looking for a big hit
Jaros – gave up a 3-on-2 via an errant pass
DiDomenico – two turnovers in his own zone on the same play which lead to a scoring chance
*trademarked

 

Player Notes
Thomas Chabot: far and away the best player on the team; showed no nerves at all in carving up the opposition; great speed, great hands, and great instincts
Maxime Lajoie: I think he should have played him more; good hands and instincts
Christian Jaros: was more active offensively than I was expecting and didn’t get carried away trying to hit guys
Erik Burgdoerfer: adequate, but not impressive; I wouldn’t have him on either special team
Patrick Sieloff: the only notable thing he did was hit and get hit
Andreas Englund: struggled; needs to keep things simple
Nick Paul: clearly not 100% coming off his injury and he didn’t play as much as you’d expect
Tyler Randell/Kyle Flanagan: barely played and largely invisible (the latter isn’t necessarily bad–they did nothing to hurt the team)
Gabriel Gagne: didn’t play much, but no defensive mistakes and was involved a couple of times offensively
Francis Perron: I noticed him twice in the game–I’m not sure if it’s a case that he should have played more or that’s where he’s at right now
Jim O’Brien: if you’ve seen Jimothy play then he did exactly that–good speed with no instincts and no delivery; I thought the fact that Kleinendorst kept him off special teams is a sign that he’ll be released sooner than later
Mike Blunden: was awful; putting aside his scoring chance, he was lazy on the back check and just generally terrible defensively (something apparent last year); I’d prefer him to get third-line ice time and be kept off the powerplay
Max McCormick: adequate, but he doesn’t belong on the powerplay
Max Reinhart: I feel like I didn’t get a full sense of what he can do last night, as he was anchored offensively with Blunden and McCormick
Chris DiDomenico: pretty vanilla performance for someone who is supposed to help the offense–could have been worse, however
Filip Chlapik: had a lot of jump offensively, with no hesitation in getting his nose dirty
Ben Sexton: great speed and tenacity, but there wasn’t enough to gauge his ability to carry and move the puck

Kurt Kleinendorst: last year he gave the vets and management about a month–a month to show what they could do–and then he changed things around for the better. It will be interesting to see what he does this season. He played Chabot a ton–something surely management wanted, but it also made a lot of sense; he also relied heavily on four defensemen after the first period (which again, made sense). I wasn’t a fan of the second powerplay unit (keep Reinhart and dump the other two), and I think he had alternatives, but he’s clearly trying to see if the combination works. How things will be changed for game number two I’m not sure (other than Hammond will start). I’d guess Murray will slide into the lineup (for Englund or Sieloff), but I’m not sure if he’ll actually dress Dunn.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa’s ECHL Situation: A Quick Refresher

echl

For the first time in years Ottawa’s ECHL situation is confusing–there’s no official affiliate, so what are the Sens doing with players demoted down to the E? It’s certainly not a situation unique to them, but it is highly unusual (all 27 ECHL teams have affiliates, a change since I last looked in July). So what arrangements have the Sens made?

Part of the problem is the org has made no official announcements–all we know are through comments from elsewhere. The answer has two parts:
-since the off-season the Wichita website has referred to Ottawa as a partner; comments from the coach in July indicated that the commitment consisted of providing one goaltender to the Edmonton affiliate
-less than a week ago Belleville began to send players to Brampton (Montreal’s affiliate), with it reported that Ottawa will share the affiliation with the team

The only question remaining is: do the Sens still owe Wichita a goaltender? I think they do and, given the relative status of the netminders between the Thunder and the Beast, it’s far better to maintain that arrangement. That said, there’s no confirmation–it’s possible this shared affiliation with Brampton means the Wichita relationship is over–we simply won’t know until the org says something officially. For now all demotions have been to Brampton and we’ll have to wait and see what happens with the extra goalies.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Signings, Jim O’Brien, Patrick Wiercioch, and other Notes

randomness

I could write paragraphs about how dumb re-signing Mark Borowiecki is, but everyone outside Sens management agrees, so why bother?

The Sens signed second round pick Alex Formenton who can spend a little time with the Sens before going back to junior. A more interesting signing was fourth-rounder Drake Batherson, who is already back in the Q–this decision was made presumably to keep his price down.

Intellectual juggernaut Ken Warren can’t figure out why the Sens don’t sell out. The master sleuth offers the following theories:

The biggest handicap has, and always will be, the arena’s location in Kanata … To some observers, the Senators didn’t do enough to promote themselves during the summer … There’s unquestionably frustration at Melnyk for … not keeping pace with the NHL’s biggest spending clubs.

Warren is suggesting almost everything, other than a lack of confidence in management and ownership. I’ve never bought into the location argument–it’s a mild impediment, but one fans have overcome in the past. Promotion is also ridiculous–coverage of the Sens is virtually 24/7, so it’s not like locals are unaware of the team or what it’s up too. What escapes Warren’s grasp all boils down to ownership (the internal budget and his periodic public insanity) and management (with outdated ideas and an unwillingness to modernize or accept responsibility for failures).

belleville sens

I had notes from the Belleville/U of Ottawa game, but that’s old news now (the only thing still worth mentioning is that Jack Rodewald suffered a leg injury early on and I haven’t seen an update on when he’ll be back; Nick Paul, who hurt his ankle at the beginning of camp, was back in time for the other exhibition games). Tryout Brendan Woods is also injured, so his inevitable release from the roster will wait until he’s cleared (fellow tryout Ethan Werek is gone). The only remaining tryout is Jim O’Brien, who has made the opening roster, but it’s unclear if he’s still on a PTO, been signed to a two-way deal, or signed an AHL-deal. If I had to guess he’s on a PTO and will be kept around until Rodewald has healed.

The Sporting News suggests Patrick Wiercioch could be assigned to Belleville by Vancouver after being waived. Utica is the Canucks’ affiliate, so I’m not sure if this is in error or related to the number of veteran contracts the AHL-team is carrying (certainly he’s not on Belleville’s opening night roster).

With Chris Driedger suffering from a groin injury and Andrew Hammond still around, the speculation is that Marcus Hogberg will go down to the ECHL (to Brampton or Wichita remains up in the air). If this is true it’s a short-term solution, because Driedger will return at some point and it makes no sense at all to have both prospects buried in the ECHL.

echl

I’d been wondering where else the Sens would assign players in the ECHL given that Wichita was officially an Edmonton affiliate. The answer is the Brampton Beast, Montreal’s ECHL affiliate–that’s where Cody Donaghey, Macoy Erkamps, and Daniel Ciampini have been loaned. Does this mean the arrangement with Wichita is over? It’s simply not clear and may only be for a goaltender.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)