A Look at the Prospects in Belleville

dumpster fire

Interest in the Sens AHL affiliate has always been limited, but the dumpster fire in Belleville’s inaugural season makes that indifference even stronger as fans want the few talented players up in Ottawa. I’d rather have development occur in the AHL (with the exception of a player like Thomas Chabot who doesn’t need it), albeit with the current coaching staffs (staves? rummodlic gamol Englisc) it’s not likely either environment is the best for development.

I’ve limited this exploration to players on ELCs–I don’t think there are hidden depths to explore in the current crop of four-year players like McCormick or Driedger. What I’ll specifically look at, along with the obvious numbers, is their performance through the vagaries of the lineup along with special teams (certain players, like Filip Chlapik, have been jerked around all season). The players are arranged by position (forward, defense, goaltender) and then points-per-game (PPG); I’ve detailed their performance by line or pairing, along with how the team has performed with them on the powerplay (including their relative usage on first or second units), along with their performance on the penalty kill where applicable. Any stat that is a team-high I’ve highlighted in bold.

Team numbers to keep in mind: Belleville is a low scoring team and this depresses offensive totals. On special teams they’ve had 36 PPG’s this season through 456 shifts, or 7.8% per shift; the first unit has scored 31 of those goals in 264 shifts (11.7%), while the second unit has just 5 goals in 192 shifts (2.6%); the team has given up 64 PPG’s vs 701 forward shifts (or 90.8% per shift), with 64 vs 540 defense-pairing shifts (88.1%)–the difference between forward/defense shifts on the PP is negligible.

Filip Chlapik (20, C/L) 50-10-2030 PPP 12 0.60 93 shots
Lines (only 5-on-5 points included)
1 3-0-0-0 0.00
2 22-2-7-9 0.41
3 18-2-3-5 0.27
4 7-3-1-4 0.57
Special Teams (on-ice for goals for PP or against for PK)
PP 9.7% (spent 78.9% on the first unit; further breakdown below)

Jerked around by the coaching staff all season (for reasons known only to themselves), his relatively consistent production has allowed him to slowly claw his way to the top of the scoring pile (although he still trails Sexton in PPG).  Ottawa’s merciful removal of Jim O’Brien and Max McCormick have provided him the ice time he’s needed to start to flourish. His overall PP percentage seems a bit low, but when you breakdown his unit time he’s on the high end for both (5.1% on the second unit and 14.9% on the first). Oddly enough what’s allowed him to get top PP time since February is Kleinendorst moving him to the point–prior to that other players were slotted in the center or leftwing position he’d otherwise occupy.

Colin White (21, C/R) 44-8-14-22 PPP 8 0.50 82 shots
1 11-0-2-2 0.18
2 19-4-4-8 0.42
3 13-2-2-4 0.30
4 1-0-0-0 0.00
Special Teams
PP 12.9% (spent 98.5% on the first unit)
PK 92.2%

With higher pedigree Kleinendorst hasn’t messed around with him as much as Chlapik, although his numbers at this level are a bit lower than expected. Coming into March he was the best penalty killer on the team, but Sexton has now passed him (not that #2 is a bad sign). The only complaint you can make about him is the aforementioned production.

Nick Paul (23, C/LW) 47-11-10-21 PPP 10 0.44 94 shots
1 19-1-6-7 0.36
2 25-4-0-4 0.16
3 2-0-0-0 0.00
Special Teams
PP 10.0% (spent 76.7% on the first unit)
PK 91.8%

As a third-year pro he should be better than this. Paul has enjoyed the most consistent top-six ice time among the prospects, but the numbers just aren’t there. What’s become clear is when surrounded with talented linemates he can produce at a certain level in the AHL, but that’s just not going to cut in the NHL. Like Chlapik he hasn’t consistently been on the first PP unit, but his production here is just as hinged to linemates (he’s just 2.7% on the second unit vs 17.6% on the first). His penalty killing has been solid, but for whatever reason Kleinendorst has used him there inconsistently (preferring talentless grinders like Tyler Randall or the newly acquired Eric Selleck). What this season has said to me is that he’s not an NHL-talent, but he can be a useful AHL forward.

Jack Rodewald (24, RW) 51-11-11-22 PPP 1 0.43 84 shots
1 15-2-2-4 0.26
2 27-7-7-14 0.51
3 7-1-1-2 0.28
4 2-0-1-1 0.50
Special Teams
PP 5.4% (spent 28.1% on the first unit)
PK 85.4% 48-7

The Sens had him on a safe, multi-year AHL-contract and threw it all away after he had a hot start to the season. Rodewald went cold and with the season near its end the 24-year old isn’t any better than he was previously. Unlike the rookies above, however, he’s enjoyed vastly favourable 5-on-5 usage (where he has more points than everyone else, but that’s impacted by the increased TOI to do so). Even more so than Nick Paul above, he cannot produce without talented linemates (think of Colin Greening–good size, good speed, decent shot, but unable to generate anything on his own). His lackluster PP production can be linked (in part) to usage, although with so many reps on the second unit he is clearly part of the issue (12.9% on the first, 2.5% on the second). On the PK he’s been an absolute disaster and Kleinendorst moved away from using him there fairly early in the season.

Gabriel Gagne (21, C/W) 60-18-5-23 PPP 4 0.38 153 shots
1 28-6-4-10 0.35
2 7-2-0-2 0.28
3 16-2-1-3 0.18
4 9-4-0-4 0.44
Special Teams
PP 6.3% (spent 29.7% on the first unit)

I thought he might be a bust last season, but he’s shown signs of life this year even though his numbers aren’t overwhelming. He’s bounced around the lineup and despite a lot of use on the top line that was mostly with the underwhelming O’BrienMcCormick combination. His PP numbers look unimpressive, although he’s actually produced as much on the second unit than anyone else (his percentage is still low at 3.0%); he’s 16.6% in his limited first unit time. He’s got deceptive speed, is good one-on-one, and has a great shot. I’m not clear on how good a passer he is, but it feels like there’s a lot more depth to explore (and he still hasn’t filled out his 6’5 frame).

Francis Perron (21, C/L) 44-4-11-15 PPP 3 0.34 61 shots
1 2-0-0-0 0.00
2 6-1-4-5 0.83
3 24-2-4-6 0.25
4 12-1-0-1 0.08
Special Teams
PP 4.8% (spent 31.7% on the first unit)
PK 87.6%

His season is currently derailed by injury, but prior to that the coaching staff was happily derailing it with usage. He barely played in the top-six 5-on-5, but that limited sample is encouraging. With lackluster linemates he struggled to produce, but he’s not that far off the numbers of other prospects when marooned in the bottom-six. His PP numbers aren’t great (1.7% on the second unit, 11.5% on the first), although they drift towards the average in limited first unit use. He struggled on the PK and while I think the org believes he’s another Pageau I’m not sure that’s the role that really suits him. I consider this a lost season and the next will really tell us who he is (assuming there’s a decent coach in charge).

Christian Jaros (21, RD) 33-2-10-12 PPP 5 0.36 65 shots
Englund 27-0-6-6 0.22
Lajoie 4-0-1-1 0.25
Murray 1-0-0-0 0.00
Chabot 1-0-0-0 0.00
Special Teams
PP 6.8% (spent 35.2% on the first pairing)
PK 83.9%

Has missed a lot of time due to injury–that and the usual bizarre coaching decisions have played havoc with his season. One Kleinendorstian oddity is wrapping Englund around him like an anchor–the underwhelming Swede (see below) has caused the Slovak all kinds of trouble. He’s been reasonably effective on the second unit PP (4.5%), but was much better on the first (11.1%) in his limited time there. On the PK he’s struggled a great deal, but he was improving in January when taken away from Englund. When he came over from the SHL I was worried about his offensive chops, but at least at the AHL level he’s got what he needs (good speed, a great shot, and decent hands).

Maxime Lajoie (20, DL) 45-0-11-11 PPP 4 0.24 39 shots
Murray 16-0-2-2 0.12
Englund 8-0-2-2 0.25
Burgdoerfer 6-0-2-2 0.33
Erkamps 6-0-0-0 0.00
Jaros 4-0-0-0 0.00
Pokka 2-0-1-1 0.50
Sieloff 1-0-0-0 0.00
Melancon 1-0-0-0 0.00
7th D 1-0-0-0 0.00
Special Teams
PP 3.9% (spent 8.6% on the first unit)
PK 96.0% (small sample size)

I was a bit puzzled at the alacrity with which the Sens signed him two years ago and while that excitement still seems out of proportion, I at least understand their interest now that I’ve seen him play. Much like Perron he’s been jerked around by the coaching staff all season and often paired with players who don’t suit him. Despite those problems his puckmoving ability has shone through. His PP time hasn’t been that productive (no points since December, with a second unit tally of 1.7% and a rarely used first at 18.1%). He and Jordan Murray have no chemistry whatsoever and the pair have spent much of the year as a duo on the second unit (I like him with Jaros, as I’ve mentioned in the past). The last two months he’s seen very limited duty on the PK and has done well, but it’s a limited sample size so it’s not something I’d trust yet.

Andreas Englund (22, DL) 64-1-9-10 0.15 49 shots
Jaros 27-0-5-5 0.18
Burgdoerfer 13-0-2-2 0.15
Lajoie 8-1-0-1 0.12
Chabot 4-0-1-1 0.25
Sieloff 4-0-0-0 0.00
Erkamps 3-0-1-1 0.33
Murray 2-0-0-0 0.00
Pokka 1-0-0-0 0.00
Corrin 1-0-0-0 0.00
Special Teams
PK 86.3% 263-36

The Swedish pylon continues his underwhelming adventures in the AHL. While the team loves his size and physicality, he really does nothing else and shown no tangible improvement over last season. He can’t move the puck and while he doesn’t produce turnovers at the breakneck speed of Burgdoerfer he can’t really move the puck up the ice. He’s struggled on the PK, especially since January when Kleinendorst started playing his D-pairings for most of or the entire length of a penalty. The org would be better off trading him away, but it’s unlikely since Randy Lee loves his big bruisers.

Marcus Hogberg (23, GL) .892 3.51 4-10-0 (ECHL 7-7-1 2.96 .919)
Goal support: 2.28 (-0.15)
Average shots allowed: 32.4/60 min (-0.4)

He’s had a wildly inconsistent rookie season where he didn’t get his first AHL start until late December due to the four-goalie clusterfuck in Belleville (which is now five thanks to Filip Gustavsoon, granting that it appears neither Andrew Hammond nor Chris Driedger will ever play again). On the one hand I expected him to be better, but on the other I was expecting him to arrive in sane circumstances and be part of the regular rotation. Comparing apples to apples his numbers are better than Driedger‘s (.885; in the AHL at least) and not that far behind either Danny Taylor (.899) nor Hammond (.900), which indicates just how bad the blueline is. It’s his erratic performances that make me wonder how much is the goalie coach and the situation (his errors are technical, as in not being set properly and being small in the net–this was troubling Taylor as well during the first half of the season). He isn’t, in my opinion, as much of a dud as Matt O’Connor was when he arrived from the NCAA (now plying his trade in the ECHL, incidentally), but he could be like Driedger where flashes of brilliance are plagued by inconsistency. The Belleville situation is a mess and he’s still young enough as a goaltender that I wouldn’t panic about him yet.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Belleville 4, Utica 3

The BSens won an entertaining game against Utica on Saturday. Mercifully Mike Blunden was out of the lineup, although Kleinendorst’s newest man-crush Eric Selleck continues to play more than makes any sense. It was a great game for Filip Chlapik who extended his point streak to four-games and enjoyed his first ever three-point effort (amusingly, Kleinendorst rewarded Ciampini with extra TOI throughout the first two periods when he was simply benefiting from being on Chlapik’s line). The Czech rookie now leads the team in scoring (second in points-per-game behind Sexton).

Shots: 30-39
PP: 0-3
PK: 4-5
Scoring chances: 9
Key saves: 7
The Goals
1. Chlapik on a breakaway
2. Ciampini on a spin-around shot off Chlapik’s feed
3. Utica – right after their PP expires a blocked shot is banged in
4. Utica PP – Taylor beat shortside with a high backhander
5. Rodewald off a nice feed from Lajoie
6. Chlapik on an empty-net
7. Utica – Taylor over commits to the initial shot and is down and out for the rebound off the blocked shot

Notable plays:  Murray hits the crossbar on a breakaway (second); Chlapik and White both choose to pass instead of scoring on the empty-netter and Sexton just misses high (third).

As mentioned above Blunden missed the game and the team continues to thrive without him (10-10-3 versus 14-26-2). The org is completely oblivious to this kind of thing however and when he returns to the lineup he’ll play just as much as he always has.

One change Kleinendorst did make, however, was loading up his first line by adding Chlapik to Sexton-White. This happened in the third period and marks the first time he’s put them all together outside the powerplay all season.

Streaks of note:
-Werek has now gone twenty games without a point
-The second unit PP also hit the twenty game mark in terms of futility

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 1, Toronto 3

I Caught this on replay. Prior to the game the Sens signed Union College grad Ryan Scarfo (C/L) to an ATO; the center had a career year (38-20-16-36) as a senior, leading the team in scoring (tied in PPG’s with the undrafted Brett Supinksi, but very close to undrafted Cole Maier). The BSens have a lousy track record with ATOs (anyone remember Nick Craven?), so I don’t expect much, but they are really short at forward right now so could use the bodies.

Shots: 29-36
PP: 1-5
PK: 4-5
Scoring chances: 13
Key saves: 12
The Goals
1. Toronto – Hogberg throws the puck up the boards which is picked off and he can’t get set as the Marlie walks in all alone
2. Toronto PP – low wrister from the top of the circle
3. PP – Sexton scores through a crowd
4. Toronto – an unpressured Blunden throws the puck up the middle of the ice and the Marlies one-time it from the dot

Notable plays: Reinhart misses an empty net (first); Blunden runs a Marlie from behind (first); Blunden crashes awkwardly into the boards (second; stayed in the game); Werek takes a dumb penalty and Marlies keep possession for 1:20 afterwards (third); Reinhart makes an offside pass on a 3-on-2 (third).

It was a great game for Hogberg who stood on his head the first two periods when the BSens were outshot 32-18. Kleinendorst’s frustratingly stupid decisions continued–why continue to put Selleck on the PK? Why play Moutrey? Why not put Chlapik on the White-Sexton line when you need a goal? Why does Blunden continue to get an enormous amount of minutes? So many questions. Christian Jaros, who returned from injury after missing 20 games (the team was 4-14-2 without him), didn’t play much.

Streaks of note:
-Werek’s pointless streak hit 19 games
-Blunden’s goalless streak hit 20 games (still getting regular PP time, however)
-The second unit PP has now been without a goal in 19 games

A question: Kleinendorst has been using just two defensemen to kill penalties fairly frequently the last couple of months–I can’t think of any other pro team that does this, but if someone can correct me please do. On the face of it I can’t see how it helps.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 3, Laval 4 (OT); Belleville 5, Laval 3

The BSens wrapped up their last trip to Laval going 1-0-1, blowing a 3-1 lead in the first game and losing in overtime, while winning the second game after trailing 3-0. I believe the latter game is the first comeback with Hogberg in the net that we’ve seen, but it was a costly victory as both Nick Paul and Colin White left with injuries. Eric Selleck has played more minutes in his seven games in Belleville than his 30+ in the Ranger organization prior to the trade (at least it feels like it).

Shots: 31-30
PP: 1-4
PK: 4-6
Scoring chances: 11
Key saves: 3
The Goals
1. Gagne bangs in his own rebound
2. Laval – Taylor beat by a one-timer from the blueline
3. PP Sexton with a rocket top shelf
4. Rodewald after a great passing play via Sexton and Chlapik
5. Laval PP – Taylor beat by another slapper from the point
6. Laval – one-timer
7. Laval PP – Taylor beat short side

Notable plays: Chlapik unintentionally pushes a Laval player into the boards head first–Sexton scores while the ref is calling the penalty (second); bunch of fights after a big hit on Gagne which results in him fighting and subsequently being hurt (for the first time this season; third); Paul passes to no one on a 2-on-1 (OT)

Not a great game for Taylor, who in general has been playing more at his expected level, but hasn’t been able to completely get his game in shape.

Shots: 22-24
PP: 0-4
PK: 3-3
Key saves: 9
Scoring chances: 11
The Goals
1. Laval – rebound through a crowd
2. Laval – deke on an odd-man rush
3. Laval – great one-timer five-hole in the slot (White unable to tie up the stick or keep up)
4. Rodwald on a breakaway
5. Selleck cleans up Lajoie’s sneaky shot
6. Sexton bounces the puck off of Rodewald
7. Ciampini scores from the top of the circle
8. Reinhart hits the empty net after missing it moments before

Notable plays: Paul hurt on a hit (looked like his shoulder)–returned for a few shifts but was eventually out of the game (first); Randell takes a butt end to the face that isn’t called (first); White hurts his ankle or leg as he awkwardly falls–like Paul plays a few shifts before being taken out (first); Blunden can’t pull the trigger in the slot (second)

Some streaks of note:
-Hogberg broke a personal five-game losing streak
-Sieloff broke a 32-game pointless streak (!)
-Werek has gone 18 games without a point
-Blunden has gone 19 games without a goal
-Reinhart had his first goal in 13 games (albeit vs an empty net)
-Rodewald had his first multi-point game since November (40 games ago); it was also his first multi-goal game this season
-The second PP unit’s goalless streak has reached 18 games (the first unit has scored 11 goals over the same timeframe)

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 1, Utica 0; Belleville 2, Bridgeport 4; Belleville 1, Toronto 4

I’m a bit late on my review this week, but all-in-all those of you who didn’t watch this trio of games didn’t miss much. The BSens scored first in all three of their three-in-three, but won only the first in what was a relatively dull set when it comes to entertainment value.

Belleville 1, Utica 0
Shots: 28-32
PP: 0-5
PK: 4-4
Scoring chances: 6
Key saves: 6
The Goal
1. Gagne scores short side on the rush

Notable plays: Reinhart misses the net from two feet out (second); great pass by Chlapik from behind the net to Moutrey who can’t handle it (second); White hits the crossbar (second); weird play off the opening faceoff on the powerplay at center ice–both Pokka and Chlapik (playing the points) raced forward when the puck was dropped (third); Moutrey hits Chlapik shooting from the slot (third); Chlapikd great cross-ice pass to Moutrey who missed the net (third); Sieloff misses the empty net (third)

Belleville 2, Bridgeport 4
PP: 1-6
PK: 1-3
Scoring chances: 6
Key saves: 6
The Goals
1. Sexton tips in Erkamps’ one-timer
2. PP Paul with a wrister from the slot
3. Bridgeport PP – score off a rebound
4. Bridgeport – point shot goes in high
5. PP Bridgeport – Selleck turns it over at the blueline and the point shot goes through five-hole
6. Bridgeport – Chlapik’s pass is deflected and they score on the empty-net

Notable plays: Blunden misses the net all alone in the slot (first); Chlapik great pass to Englund through traffic (first); Selleck accidentally takes out the ref (first); Colin White was injured (upper body) this game.

Belleville 1, Toronto 4
PP: 0-2
PK: 3-5
Scoring chances: 7
Key saves: 10
The Goals
1. Englund with a nice backhander all alone in front
2. Toronto PP – Sieloff gets puck watching and can’t block the pass in front
3. Toronto – deflection in front
4. Toronto PP – one-timer from the top of the circle
5. Toronto – Moutrey turns it over and the Marlie walks into the slot and scores

Notable plays: Gagne with a great effort to get a partial breakaway (first); Sieloff makes an ill-advised pinch leading to a 3-on-1 (first); Englund stupidly pushes a player into Taylor (first); Moutrey can’t get a shot all alone in front (first); reat pass by Chlapik to Rodewald for a scoring chance (first); Lajoie with a great pass to Moutrey (second)

Selleck played a ton of this game for some reason and the Marlies ate him for breakfast. Englund’s goal was his first of the season (in game #60!).

With the BSens playing no meaningful games at this point Kleinendorst continues to favour his veterans to no meaningful effect. Selleck, who isn’t really an AHL-player, has been on the first or second line in four of his five games; Blunden and Reinhart, who have both been awful all season long, are anchoring the second line; Moutrey, who doesn’t have offensive skills, has spent half his time on the first line. Chlapik, one of the most talented players on the roster, has been buried in the third line for the last six games and seen his point totals dry up accordingly.

The conservatism has seen the coach attempt to have just two defensemen play entire penalty kills (contributing to the recent 8-13 PK run) and the second unit powerplay has now gone 16 games without a goal (the one constant on it is Blunden).

Current Streaks of Note
Sieloff: no points in 31 games
Blunden: 17 game goalless streak
Werek: 16 game pointless streak
Murray: 9 game pointless streak
Reinhart: 8 game pointless streak
Gagne: 1 point in his last 9
Rodewald: 1 point in his last 8
Sexton: point-per-game pace his last fourteen

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville Senators: February Report

Randy Lee

Another month is in the books for the BSens disappointing season. Randy Lee’s firm stamp of failure continues:
2014-15 34-34-8 .500
2015-16 31-38-7 .454
2016-17 28-44-4 .395
2017-18 21-33-4 .397
This is a pretty obvious decline, but making changes is not how the Sens’ org operates and his continued ineptitude will remain.

After a middling January the team (in the midst of divisional games important to their opponents) tanked, going 3-9-0. Funnily enough many of the underlying numbers improved or remained unchanged: the team’s shot differential dropped to its lowest level since November (and without the ridiculous 5-1 loss to Binghamton it would be by far the lowest of the season); the powerplay continued to improve; the PK was at its best efficiency since October; the anemic offense was unchanged; and the overall goals against was on par with January–so why all the losses? It’s pretty simple: they lost more of the close games.

The Roster

Chris DiDomenico played exactly one game before being recalled to Ottawa and then traded. Colin White, Ben Harpur, and Max McCormick spent at least half the month with Ottawa (the former two matter quite a bit to the BSens, the latter does not). On the injury front Francis Perron and Christian Jaros missed all of February, while Kyle Flanagan missed over half of it. Also missing multiple games were Jack Rodewald, Max Lajoie, and Jordan Murray. Vincent Dunn was finally traded off the roster (dumped on Pittsburgh as part of the Brassard trade). Returning from injury was Ben Sexton (out since early November), and the team acquired Ville Pokka from Chicago via the DiDomenico trade (who has been an immense help to the powerplay–21% since his arrival). The only other roster changes were: human meat-puppet Eric Selleck (inexplicably acquired from the Rangers) and failed Columbus prospect Nick Moutrey (part of the Ian Cole trade). Both came right as the month ended and other than Selleck helping his team lose last night neither have made an impact.

Stats (arranged by points-per-game; ELC’s in green)

Sexton 11-5-7-12 1.09
Paul 12-7-2-9 0.75
Chlapik 12-2-5-7 0.58
White 6-0-3-3 0.50
Harpur 6-0-3-3 0.50
O’Brien 11-2-3-5 0.45
McCormick 5-1-1-2 0.40
Blunden 10-0-4-4 0.40
Rodewald 8-1-2-3 0.37
Dunn 3-0-1-1 0.33
Pokka 6-0-2-2 0.33
Reinhart 12-2-2-4 0.33
Randell 11-2-1-3 0.27
Lajoie 8-0-2-2 0.25
Murray 9-0-2-2 0.22
Flanagan 5-1-0-1 0.20
Gagne 12-1-1-2 0.16
Englund 12-0-2-2 0.16
Erkamps 8-1-0-1 0.12
Burgdoerfer 10-0-1-1 0.10
Ciampini 11-1-0-1 0.09
DiDomenico 1-0-0-0
Moutrey 1-0-0-0
Selleck 2-0-0-0
Werek 10-0-0-0
Sieloff 12-0-0-0

Driedger 0-1-0 .906 5.00 ECHL 2-1-0 .946 1.36
Hogberg 1-4-0 .894 3.40 ECHL 1-0-0 .968 1.00
Taylor 2-4-0 .893 2.93

Sexton enjoyed the most productive month of the season for the BSens, anchored by two big games (both losses) in the latter half of February. Nick Paul, who has had an awful season, enjoyed his best month, doubling his total numbers. None of the goaltenders were good, but in general their numbers are all quite similar–the primary difference is Taylor is aggressively mediocre while both Hogberg and Driedger are inconsistent at this level.

Streaks of note: Sieloff is on a 28-game pointless streak; Englund has gone 57 games without a goal (the entire season); Werek is pointless in 14-games (I warned back in October that he’d regress to the mean); Ciampini broke a 12-game goalless and 10-game pointless streak.

Special Teams

Powerplay 17.94%
This is the highest percentage of the season on a per-month basis; all the production has come from the first unit, as Kleinendorst’s tendency to populate the PP with unproductive favourites continues. So why the boost in production? The team has finally front-loaded the unit with the most creative players (Pokka’s addition, as mentioned above, has also been a godsend). The only question is: does Kleinendorst know that’s what he’s done?
Forward Usage: White, Sexton, Chlapik/Paul, Gagne
Defense Usage: Pokka/Harpur, Murray, Lajoie

On-ice for Goals Scored
Forwards: White, Sexton/Chlapik, Paul, Gagne
Defense: Pokka, Harpur, Murray

Penalty Kill 80.95%
The second highest monthly percentage of the season (just behind October); why the improvement? The defensive rotation didn’t really change, so the primary difference is at forward and Sexton and Flanagan (when healthy) are significant upgrades; McCormick’s absence has also helped (whatever his abilities are as a penalty killer, they haven’t been on display this season).
Forward Usage: White, Sexton, Blunden, McCormick/Flanagan
Defense Usage: Burgdoerfer, Sieloff, Englund, Harpur

On-ice for Fewest Goals Against
Forwards: Flanagan, White, Blunden, Sexton
Defense: Burgdoerfer, Harpur, Englund, Sieloff

The stubbornness of Kleinendorst is evident on special teams despite the improved results. He continues to ram Blunden, McCormick (when he’s in Belleville), and Reinhart onto the powerplay, while he overplays McCormick, Englund, and Burgdoerfer on the PK. One thing I was critical of in the past that’s improved, however, is the impact of forwards on the point for the PP–it improves when the forward’s partner is not Murray (only 30% of the goals he’s been on the ice for are sharing the point with a forward).

5-on-5 Kleinendorst has put together effective second lines, but continues wonky and bizarre first units (they’ve included Selleck, Blunden, Ciampini, McCormick, Rodewald, and Werek). Why talented players like White, Chlapik, and Sexton aren’t getting those top spots is beyond me. In terms of defensive combinations Kleinendorst refuses to load up his pairings, saddling talented players with those who can’t move the puck effectively.

Looking forward it will be interesting to see who remains (or comes) to Belleville and what sort of impact/usage they’ll get. This should be a time to play prospects a ton, but Kleinendorst can’t get that veteran needle out of his arm.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 1, Binghamton 4

After giving up 53 shots to Binghamton just a few days ago the BSens managed to make life easier for their goaltender, but otherwise played a listless game and got the result they deserved.

Shots: 20-25
PP: 0-1
PK: 0-1
Scoring chances: 4
Key saves: 1
The Goals
1. Binghamton – low shot through a crowd
2. Chlapik with a great one-timer via Lajoie
3. Binghamton PP – wide open wrist shot from the slot
4. Binghamton – Taylor isn’t set right and he’s beat far side through a screen
5. Binghamton – empty-net

Notable plays: Pokka turned into a pylon (first); Reinhart ruins a breakaway pass by putting himself offside (second); pointless fight by Selleck where he takes an extra penalty that results in a goal against (second); Binghamton beats Taylor five-hole from the blueline on the powerplay, but the ref doesn’t see it and they score 30 seconds later so it ultimately doesn’t matter (second); Paul can’t complete the pass on a 2-on-1 (second); Paul misses the net from the slot (third); Moutrey makes a nice power move to the net for a scoring chance (third);  Blunden throws a hit that hurts Sieloff (third; he’d stay in the game)

Nick Moutrey, who was shoehorned into the the Ian Cole trade by the Blue Jackets, made his debut. A brief, former teammate of Nick Paul’s in North Bay, he was a fairly average OHL player and hasn’t blossomed in the AHL (0.25 points-per-game to date)–scouts did not read the tea leaves very effectively with him. He’s big with decent speed, but doesn’t have great hands or head for the game and is someone the Sens should walk away from when the season is done.

Kleinendorst continued his bizarre distribution of ice time, playing rental goon Eric Selleck far too much and waiting until very late to push offensively (putting hands-of-stone Patrick Sieloff with these units due to defensive fears). It wasn’t a very entertaining game and there’s really nothing from it to get excited about.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)