Data Mining the Belleville Senators

Assessing the Team

Since the AHL is living in the dark ages of tracking data, those of us interested in looking beyond the bare stats available have to do our own work. I haven’t tracked everything, just kept tabs on scoring chances and player usage on special teams.

The bare bones: after a nine-game road trip Belleville is 4-4-1, having scored 27 goals (3 per game) and allowed 31 (3.44 per game). The team is giving up an average of 36 shots against, while firing 28 themselves. Their powerplay versus shorthanded situations are almost identical (49/47), scoring 6 and giving up 8.

Carrying four goalies is a bit much, but Chris Driedger was injured for most of the month and with Marcus Hogberg sent down to the ECHL, the road was cleared for veterans Danny Taylor and Andrew Hammond. The latter has clearly outplayed the former:
Hammond 1-1-1 .929 2.69
Taylor 3-3-0 .903 3.27

The expectation was for Taylor to carry the mail, but he’s been hit and miss so far this season (3 above .900 games, 3 below). The lesser used Hammond hasn’t had a start below .921, so it will be interesting if Kleinendorst starts to play them accordingly.

Down in Brampton Hogberg has been getting his head kicked in: .863, 5.30, but before we get too alarmed the other goalies are sporting .868 (starter McNiven) and .833 save percentages, so at least some of the fault has to go to the team’s defense in front of him.

Scoring Chances
By my count the team has had 95 chances through 9 games (or 10.5 per game). Here’s the list of the players with the most scoring chances thus far (the bar set at 0.5 per game, with goals scored in brackets):
DiDomenico 2.0 (3)
Rodewald 1.6 (3)
Sexton 1.5 (2)
Chlapik 1.5 (1)
McCormick 0.85 (1)
Werek 0.83 (3)
Chabot 0.8 (1)
O’Brien, Ciampini 0.66 (1, 1)
Reinhart, Paul, Jaros 0.62 (1, 0, 1)
Gagne 0.55 (4)
Other goalscorers: Burgdoerfer (2), Sieloff (1), Randell (1, empty-net)

It’s worth noting that a number of players have elevated ratios because they’ve played fewer games.

5-on-5 Play (and OT)
The team has 6 powerplay, 1 shorthanded, and 2 empty net goals, leaving 18 scored under normal circumstances. Here are the on-ice leaders for even-strength goals:
Paul 6
Gagne 5
Chlapik, McCormick, O’Brien, Rodewald, Werek 4
Ciampini, DiDomenico, Perron, Reinhart, Sexton 3
Blunden, Dunn, Randell 1
Flanagan, Vaive 0
Burgdoerfer, Englund, Jaros, Lajoie, Sieloff 5
Chabot 4
Harpur 2
Erkamps, Murray 1

Even Strength Point Production (minus the aforementioned category goals):
Rodewald, Gagne 4
Chalpik, Jaros, Werek, Paul, Ciampini, O’Brien 3
DiDomenico, Burgdoerfer, Sexton, Reinhart, Sieloff, Englund 2
McCormick, Perron, Lajoie, Murray, Blunden, Dunn 1
Chabot, Randell, Erkamps, Vaive, Flanagan, Harpur 0

Keep in mind the small sample size for players with fewer games played (the fact Chabot has been on-ice for 4 even strength goals should alleviate any concerns about his zero on that front).

Breaking Down Special Teams

I’ve done my best to track both line combinations and shifts for the PK and PP. Currently the team is 6-49 on the PP (12.2%, 21st in the league), and 39-47 on the PK (83%, 16th in the league)–for reference last season the team was 15% on the PP and 79% on the PK. So, who is being used in each situation?

The Powerplay (6-49, 12.2%)
The simplest thing first, powerplay points:
Chabot 1-2-3
Werek 2-0-2
Jaros 1-1-2
DiDomenico 1-1-2
Burgdoerfer 1-1-2
Chlapik 0-2-2
Lajoie 0-2-2
Paul 0-1-1
Perron 0-1-1

So what about on-ice for a PP goal?
Chabot, Chlapik, Jaros, Lajoie, Sexton, Paul, Burgdoerfer 3
DiDomenico, Rodewald, Werek 2
Reinhart, Perron, O’Brien 1

Conspicuously absent from the above are the heavily played McCormick and Blunden. The two receive a tremendous amount of ice time with the man advantage, but their lines do not score. This isn’t to say they can’t produce on special teams, just that they’ve been overplayed in that role thus far.

Player usage is the most interesting thing here–who is or isn’t playing and what is or isn’t successful. By my count there have been 27 different powerplay formations already, but some are certainly more common than others and certain players are regularly deployed. In terms of pure, raw usage (as in, shifts), the top six forwards are Chlapik, Paul, Rodewald, McCormick, DiDomenico, and Werek. The top four defensemen are Jaros, Lajoie, Chabot, and Burgdoerfer.

Raw shifts isn’t as telling as opportunities versus games played (keeping in mind the exigences of officiating, ie, how many penalties are called when you happen to be playing), so with that metric with the same two categories it’s:
DiDomenico 5.25
Rodewald 5.2
Chlapik 4.5
Sexton 3.75
Paul 3.75
McCormick 3.57
Blunden 3.25
Werek 3.16
Reinhart 2.12
Perron 1.42
Randell 1.0
Chabot  6.2
Jaros 4.5
Murray 4.0
Lajoie 3.77
Burgdoerfer 3.11
Harpur 2.0

Conspicuously absent is leading goal-scorer Gagne, who has barely been used (0.85).

What about line combinations? Here are the most used forward combinations:
Sexton-Chlapik-DiDomenico (2 goals)
Werek-Paul-Rodewald (1 goal)
McCormick-Chlapik-DiDomenico (no goals)
Perron-Paul-Rodewald (1 goal)
McCormick-Reinhart-Blunden (no goals)

The same division but with defensemen:
Chabot-Jaros (2 goals)
Lajoie-Jaros (1 goal)
Lajoie-Burgdoerfer (2 goals)
Chabot-Burgdoerfer (1 goal)

These four defensemen account for 87% of the ice time given on the blueline, which is a far cry from the chaos in the forward ranks (the above lines constitute 44% of usage).

Penalty Kill (39-47, 83%; two goals were via 5-on-3’s)
What about the penalty kill? Going by shifts per game, here are all the forwards who average more than one per game (with how many goals they’ve been on-ice for noted):
Rodewald 4.2 (1)
Paul 4.12 (2)
Sexton 4.0 (1)
McCormick 3.85 (5)
O’Brien 3.66 (3)
Blunden 3.5 (0)
Perron 1.57 (0)
Randell 1.11 (0)
The defensemen:
Englund 5.55 (3)
Sieloff 5.44 (3)
Erkamps 4.5 (1)
Burgdoefer 4.11 (3)
Harpur 3.5 (1)
Jaros 3.0 (3)
Chabot 2.8 (2)

I’d again keep in mind that some players haven’t played that many games. The most common combinations (minimum one shift per game):
Paul-Rodewald (1 goal against)
McCormick-Paul (1)
McCormick-Sexton (2)
O’Brien-Blunden (0)
Sexton-O’Brien (0)
McCormick-O’Brien (1)
Sieloff-Burgdoerfer (2)
Englund-Erkamps (0)
Englund-Burgdoerfer (1)
Sieloff-Jaros (0)
Englund-Sieloff (0)
Sieloff-Harpur (1)

Once again there’s greater stability amongst defenders (77% of the shifts are via the above combos) than forwards (54%).

Thus far the team has scored one shorthanded goal (unassisted by McCormick).

Games Missed
Colin White 9 (now healthy), Chris Driedger (healthy)/Kyle Flanagan 7 (concussion), Ben Sexton 5, Mike Blunden 4 (and counting), Francis Perron/Jack Rodewald/Thomas Chabot/Macoy Erkamps* 2, Nick Paul/Paul Reinhart 1
*I’m assuming he’s hurt
Ben Harpur 7, Chris DiDomenico 5, Jack Rodewald & Thomas Chabot 2, Filip Chlapik, Max McCormick, & Christian Jaros 1
Blunden, McCormick, & Vincent Dunn 1
Healthy Scratch*
Jordan Murray/Dunn 4, Cody Donaghey 2, Erkamps 1
*ignoring goaltenders

Breakdowns for skaters (forwards and defense) will arrive in a follow-up article.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Belleville 4 Manitoba 3 (SO), Belleville 3 Manitoba 2 (OT)

The BSens went to Winnipeg and picked up 4-points in a pair of sloppy games against a good team. This complete’s Belleville’s month on the road and I’ll be digging into the numbers on that in a separate article. They were badly outplayed in the first game, but before my observations here are the basics (the box score is here):
Shots: 27-38
PP: 1-3 (one cut short)
PK: 3-4 (brief 5-on-3 they were scored on; another was also brief)
Goaltender: Andrew Hammond was fantastic (I had him making 11 big saves–many in overtime); Danny Taylor served as the backup and a now-healthy Chris Driedger was scratched (presumably he’ll be loaned to the ECHL at some point–there’s no room in Brampton, so either they swap him with Hogberg or loan him to a different team)

The Opposition
The Moose are a good team and probably deserved a better fate, particularly in this game, as goaltender Eric Comrie could not make a save in the shootout. There were a couple of BSens connections, with Buddy Robinson and pugilist Darren Kramer on the team (as well as tryout Charles-David Beaudoin).

The Goals
1. Manitoba: Sieloff can’t control the stick making the deflection in front
2. Burgdoerfer on the PP (nice set-up by Lajoie, but full credit to Burg for the goal)
3. Manitoba: Sieloff out of position so he can neither block the pass or take the man
4. Sexton finishes off a nice three-way passing play (nice short-side shot)
5. Gagne bangs in a fantastic pass by Perron
6. Werek falls, turning the puck over and neither Burgdoerfer or Sieloff get back to the net in time to stop a wide-open deflection
Sexton – hits the post
Ciampini – scores on a deke
Gagne – scores on a slapshot (!)
Werek – scores on a deke
Paul – wrist shot

Scoring chances (7): Ciampini (2), Gagne, Paul, Burgdoerfer, Sexton, Reinhart

The Roster
Chalpik, DiDomenico, McCormick, and newly ELC-signed Rodewald were all with Ottawa; Blunden and Flanagan remained out as expected, but Chabot also missed both games with a lower body injury; Erkamps sat presumably due to injury (he was on the presumed lineup for tonight, but did not play and the BSens spent the night a player short). Joining the lineup was Ben Sexton, who hadn’t played since October 7th; Dunn also drew back in given the lack of forward options, joined by Justin Vaive (yes, son of Rick), who was called up from Cincinnati. Jordan Murray was sent down to Brampton prior to the trip, but has not suited up for the Beast yet.


If these lines look underwhelming you are correct. Harpur looked like he was skating in cement and wasn’t sure what the puck was for. Lajoie was a big help for Burgdoerfer and Jaros played a ton.

Special Teams
Sexton-Paul-O’Brien/Burgdoerfer-Lajoie (scored)
Werek-Perron-Randell/Harpur-Jaros (once)
Perron-Reinhart-Randell/Harpur-Jaros (once)
Perron-Ciampini/Englund-Jaros (this is half a line change from the above)
Penalty Kill
Sexton-O’Brien/Sieloff-Burgdoefer (once)
Vaive-O’Brien/Englund-Burgdoefer (once–Sexton was in the box)
O’Brien/Sieloff-Harpur (5-on-3) (scored on)
Yes, with a one-goal lead Tyler Randell was on the powerplay twice–who wants to win in regulation, am I right? Jim O’Brien doesn’t belong either. The overtime lines, for the most part, struggled to get anything done.

Notable Plays
To save my sanity I’m going to collapse good and bad into one little text box. In the first Harpur threw a hip check to the head of Spacek who missed the next game (no intent, just size differential and bad luck). Late in the second Burgdoerfer managed to deke himself out with no real pressure–it was pretty amusing. In the third Jaros walked through a couple of players, but had no support on the rush. Classic O’Brien: wide open breakaway in overtime–fanned on the shot; Jimothy also repeated a play he made in Syracuse where with offensive pressure (in OT this time) he carried the puck outside the zone and made change.

Player Notes
Harpur: coming off injury he was atrocious; struggled with speed, struggled to handle the puck, and struggled to make decisions
Sieloff: his worst game of the season with a lot of mental errors defensively
Lajoie: pretty quiet game, but no big snafu’s and a nice assist
Englund: outside of one mistake (going for a big hit which lead to a 2-on-1 against) he was solid; after a terrible start to the season he’s been fine (albeit, no hands)
Jaros: couple of great defensive plays and a great rush in what was an underwhelming game from his team
Burgdoerfer: I’m not his biggest fan, but by his standards he’s on fire
Dunn: barely played and accomplished nothing
Vaive: his dad is Rick–did I mention that earlier?
Randell: on the powerplay? Really?
Reinhart: buried pretty deep in the Kleinendorst doghouse and in limited duty didn’t do much (a turnover and a scoring chance)
Ciampini: I’m warming up to him a bit–not sure he’s true AHL material, but as long as KK doesn’t put him on the first unit PP again I’m happy
Gagne: finally seeing the shot that made him a second round pick–if you get a chance to see his shootout goal check it out–not many guys can just walk in and blow it by a goalie with a slapper
Perron: solid game, although he’s got to be feeling pretty snake bitten with no goals
Werek: AHL’s best player was largely invisible, but he got a nice assist and made the play responsible for Manitoba’s tying the game late
O’Brien: typical game for him
Sexton: solid return after missing a lot of action

Belleville was lucky to win–they gave up a lot of opportunities and were stuck in their own end for much of the game. With that said, they had a 3-2 lead late in the third and you have to wonder how much Kleinendorst choosing to play conservatively allowed for the tie. it’s worth noting officials put their whistles away for much of the game (albeit not as much as in the next).

Saturday’s game was much more entertaining to watch and, given that the BSens fell behind early, we saw Kleinendorst change his lines to try to score (and without the Blunden button to push). This was the game where I realised Jim O’Brien comes from the Alexei Yashin school of passing: don’t. Before my observations here are the basics (the box score is here):
Shots: 37-39
PP: 0-2 (both abbreviated)
PK: 2-2 (one brief)
Goaltender: Danny Taylor (for a game with a ton of shots I only noted one big save from him); Andrew Hammond backed-up and Chris Driedger was scratched.

The Opposition
Only changes were Spacek out (presumably a concussion) and a goaltender switch.

The Goals
1. Manitoba: Gagne tips it into his own net
2. Manitoba: horrible goal from Taylor (beat by a low weak wrist shot from the circle)
3. Sexton bangs in O’Brien’s rebound
4. Gagne off a nice pass from Chlapik (who intercepted a clear around)
5. Chlapik steals the puck in his own end and scores on the breakaway (deke)

Scoring chances (10): Chlapik (3), Gagne (2), Sexton (2), O’Brien, McCormick, Burgdoerfer

The Roster
Chlapik and McCormick returned from Ottawa; spare tire Dunn was put back into the trunk (no one else needed to be scratched because the BSens played a man short the previous night).

The Lines

Harpur played a lot and it wasn’t pretty. In the second Chlapik was moved to center the second line and it was fantastic when on the ice (incredibly it’s a combo virtually unseen up to this point). It’s been very noticeable that Nick Paul misses Jack Rodewald (reminds me of his early dependence on Tobias Lindberg eons ago).

Special Teams
Gagne-Chlapik/Harpur (scored)
Penalty Kill

The McCormick heroin was in full effect today–I’m not sure what it is with coaches who can’t separate “I love this gritty, responsible player” from “this guy is great offensively.” McCormick has a decent shot, but he’s not much of a passer and his hockey IQ offensively isn’t great either (both well illustrated by his goal/assist ratio). There was also far, far too much Ben Harpur–he’s coming off injury, ease him in.

Notable Plays
Randell and Darren Kramer had one of those “we need to justify our paycheque” fights in the first (win for Randell if that interests you). Late in the second both Harpur and Sieloff abandoned the front of the net leaving a wide open Manitoba player (he missed the net). There was a great shift after that by the Gagne-Chlapik-Perron line where both Perron and Lajoie missed the net on great opportunities.

Player Notes
Harpur: the struggles continued–among the things he’s not ready for was PP duty
Sieloff: bounceback game for him comparatively with only two poor defensive plays
Burgdoerfer: evened up the turnovers with solid D (3 and 3)
Englund: largely invisible, but one notable defensive play
Jaros: pretty quiet game for him, but not a bad one
Lajoie: really came alive when he was matched up with the Gagne-Chlapik-Perron line
Vaive: he’s 6’6 and yeah, his father is Rick
Randell: he punched somebody and he wasn’t on the special teams, so basically a win
Reinhart: while I’d scratch Randell with a healthy lineup, given how little Reinhart is playing he might sit
Ciampini; largely invisible (no snafu’s however)
McCormick: scoring chance shorthanded and a boondoggle of a turnover
Paul: offensively vanished, but made a couple of good defensive plays
Werek: AHL’s best player warranted zero notations
O’Brien: have to credit him for an assist, but has no business on the PP
Sexton: picked up another goal and was generally solid
Perron: can’t buy a goal, but a positive presence and possession player
Gagne: other than accidentally own-goaling, this was one of his best games (he shines when he’s with linemates who can get him the puck)
Chlapik: he set-up the game tying goal and won it in overtime…and this is the third straight game Kleinendorst started him on the third or fourth line

I mentioned back in July that Kleinendorst tends to take a month or two before finding his way to the best possible lineup–relying on veterans in the early going. We’ve seen that in spades this season with an unreasonable addiction to McCormick, O’Brien, the now injured Blunden, Burgdoerfer, and now Harpur. Some of that is comfort level (three of those five players played for him before), but there’s an overemphasis on what’s perceived as “safe” and it’s frustrating to those of us who want to see talented prospects let loose. Gabriel Gagne, who was a disaster last season, has been on a very short leash, but with four goals in his last six games that might be lifting. I’m not a huge fan of Harpur playing his off side incidentally, but to keep him on the left means cutting either Englund or Sieloff’s ice time and Kleinendorst clearly isn’t ready for that.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 4, Springfield 7

Sunday was the end of a 3-in-3 for Belleville, but exhaustion and schedule are no excuse as Springfield was in the exact same situation. The 0-6 Thunderbirds lay a beatdown on the BSens, but losses like this are just as interesting as the wins. Before my observations, here are the basics (you can see the box score here):
Shots: 31-38
PP: 0-10 (three 5-on-3’s, one of which was very brief; two 4-on-3’s; the final PP lasted for about ten seconds while Springfield was in possession)
PK: 4-7 (one 5-on-3)
Goaltender: Danny Taylor (making six key saves); Andrew Hammond backed up; on the whole I haven’t been that impressed with Taylor, who in five starts has only had one excellent game (the win over Hartford)

The Opposition
The Thunderbirds are a mediocre team–not quite as awful as their 0-6 record entering the game, but struggling behind some atrocious goaltending. Their third goaltender played and currently has the best numbers on the team (small sample size and not that good overall); this is the third time in seven games where the BSens have faced a third-string goaltender

The Goals
1. Springfield: 3-on-2 tipped in
2. Ciampini tips in Burgdoerfer’s shot
3. Springfield: crossbar-high tap-in of a rebound
4. Burgdoerfer (off a sweet pass from Chlapik)
5. Springfield: one-timer on a 5-on-3 PP (not a great goal allowed by Taylor)
6. Springfield: PP rebound banged in with no BSens in front of the net to defend
7. Springfield: Burgdoerfer loses a puck battle and gets puck watching, leaving his man wide open in front to score with 4 seconds left in the second
8. Sieloff bounces a point shot off a defender
9. Springfield: Paul can’t take his man who beats Taylor at a terrible angle
10. Springfield: Taylor beat high
11. O’Brien (the goal wasn’t shown as the AHL Live feed was showing the highlight of the previous goal)

Scoring chances (10): Ciampini (x2), McCormick (x2, one on the pp), Chlapik (pp), Rodewald, Burgdoerfer, Sieloff, O’Brien, and Jaros

The Roster
Ben Harpur had been reassigned earlier in the day, but was not sent to Springfield; Vincent Dunn was scratched and Macoy Erkamps dressed (the team went with seven defenseman). Flanagan, Sexton, Blunden, and Driedger remain injured. After the game Max McCormick was recalled to Ottawa.


Randell’s regular rotation disappeared pretty quickly; by the second period Gagne played much less (in favour of Chlapik, although he wasn’t specifically always on the second line). Erkamps was used very sparingly and Chabot (as expected) played the most among the blueliners.

Special Teams
Werek-Paul-Rodewald/Lajoie-Jaros (the most used unit)
Werek-Paul-Rodewald/Chabot-Jaros (once)
Gagne-Chlapik-McCormick/Chabot-Burgdoerfer (once)
McCormick-Paul-O’Brien/Lajoie-Burgdoerfer (once)
Reinhart-McCormick-Rodewald/Chabot-Burgdoerfer (5-on-3)
Werek-Paul-Chlapik/Lajoie-Jaros (5-on-3)
Gagne-Paul-Rodewald/Chabot-Burgdoerfer (5-on-3)
Rodewald-Chlapik-Werek/Chabot-Jaros (5-on-3)
Chlapik-Rodewald/Chabot-Jaros (4-on-3)
McCormick-Paul-Rodewald/Chabot (4-on-3)
O’Brien-Paul-Rodewald/Burgdoerfer (scored on)
Penalty Kill
O’Brien-McCormick/Chabot-Jaros (scored on)
Paul-Rodewald/Englund-Erkamps (scored on)
Perron-Randell/Chabot-Jaros (once)
McCormick-Randell/Englund-Sieloff (once)
O’Brien/Englund-Jaros (5-on-3)
O’Brien/Chabot-Englund (5-on-3) (scored on)
Burgdoerfer on the first unit powerplay wasn’t that effective. While his two points on the night might suggest otherwise, the 28-year old defender’s offensive limitations stretch back to his junior career and his 0.25 AHL ppg just shouldn’t be riding shotgun with Chabot on the top unit. Otherwise the variation above illustrates frustration from Kleinendorst trying to find something that worked–the obsession with keeping McCormick on the powerplay couldn’t be lifted and poor Perron was given no time with the man advantage despite a desperate need for creativity and goals (by my count they had 2 scoring chances on the powerplay).

Notable Plays
Chlapik’s scoring chance above involved him deking a couple of guys and drawing a penalty; on the 4-on-3 in the second Chlapik beat all three defenders to get a backhand in tight on goal; in the third Jaros went coast-to-coast, drawing a penalty; Chlapik set-up a wide open Gagne during the final 4-on-4, but he missed the net.

Notable Blunders/Errors
In the first O’Brien had a clear chance to make a pass for a breakaway and couldn’t figure it out; Taylor ignored a puck thinking it was an icing and this caused chaos; on the first 5-on-3 Burgdoerfer repeatedly could not receive passes; a Paul turnover in the first lead to a breakaway against (shot went off the crossbar); a Chabot turnover in the second lead to a 2-on-1 in the second with a penalty taken.

Player Notes
Erkamps: did not play much; only notable moment was throwing a huge hit in the third
Englund: solid game from him–didn’t do much, but no major mistakes either
Lajoie: pretty quiet game, although he continues to be the guy who tee’s up Jaros’ big shot on the PP
Burgdoerfer: multi-point games are a rarity, but points aside, it was a pretty average performance and I think he was overplayed
Sieloff: looked as shocked as I think I was when he scored (his season totals as a pro are always 1 or 2); otherwise it was his usual dependable if unexciting play
Chabot: was trying to a bit too much and uncharacteristically committed a number of turnovers
Jaros: a little quieter than usual, but without the kinds of mistakes Chabot was making above
Randell: had his first fight of the season and given that’s what he’s on the roster to do, it’s something
Ciampini: a couple of nice plays early, but didn’t play much subsequently and never got a turn on the powerplay (unlike previous games)
Reinhart: did not play much and Kleinendorst clearly has issues trusting him; more regular turns on the powerplay at least should be on the menu for him
Werek: despite a lot of time on the PP he made no impact whatsoever
Gagne: largely invisible, with special teams time meaning he was on the bench for long periods
Perron: I’m not sure why he doesn’t get a regular turn on the powerplay, but he doesn’t; other than taking a dumb penalty in the first which resulted in the second Springfield goal, he was solid
O’Brien: even Jimothy scores once and awhile; Kleinendorst didn’t punch the Jimmy button as much as he sometimes does, but that’s presumably a matter of how many powerplays there were
Rodewald: played a ton and while he wasn’t bad he wasn’t particularly effective
Paul: pretty sloppy game and he looked gased at times (he played a ton)
McCormick: solid game from him–I’ll repeat he doesn’t belong on the first unit PP
Chlapik: he’s got to score eventually; there are no possession numbers kept in the AHL, but by the eye test he was the best at carrying and moving the puck; not many rookies can turn AHL defensemen into pylons offensively

This was an ugly game for Belleville–while they weren’t dominated in the same way that Providence and others have, they were a gong show on special teams and Kleinendorst’s conservatism when it comes to certain players (either in playing or not playing them in various situations) gets frustrating when things aren’t working. On the powerplay I’d like to see Perron and Gagne rotated in more regularly (or at all), with McCormick and Burgdoerfer limited to the second unit without needing to always be on even that. This might be academic with Ben Harpur’s arrival and Colin White and Ben Sexton’s emanate return.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 5, Hartford 1; Belleville 2, Providence 3 (SO)

Friday night was another win for the BSens, as Thomas Chabot returned to the lineup. It was also an entertaining game to watch, even on AHL Live’s potato vision. Before my observations, here are the basics (you can see the box score here):
Shots: 28-35
PP: 1-6 (one that lasted about thirty seconds)
PK: 6-6 (including a brief 5-on-3)
Goaltender: Danny Taylor (I had him making eight key saves); Andrew Hammond was the backup

The Opposition
A good lineup with a couple of BSens connections in Matt Puempel (who was traded to Detroit after the game) and Cole Schneider.

The Goals
1. Rodewald bangs in a Jaros rebound
2. Hartford: broken play defensively–Englund went behind the net to retrieve the puck and both Chabot and Gagne went to the boards as the outlets–Chlapik collapsed behend the net to help Englund while Ciampini stood and no-man’s land leaving the front of the net wide open
3. Gagne with a nice tip
4. Jaros PP with a bullet (he and Lajoie had attempted the exact same play twice before; this time Perron made the pass)
5. Reinhart mini breakaway/deke off Ciampini steal
6. Randell into the empty net

Scoring chances (12): Paul (x2), Rodewald (x2), Reinhart (x2), Gagne, Perron, Englund, Jaros, Chlapik, Werek

The Roster
Chris Didomenico was called up to Ottawa (he played 5 minutes against Toronto), Mike Blunden returned from suspension (he was injured early in the game and is out long term), both Max McCormick and Vincent Dunn sat out due to suspensions, Francis Perron returned from the flu, Max Reinhart dressed (he missed the last game presumably due to injury or illness), Chabot returned and Jordan Murray was scratched. I also finally had it confirmed that Kyle Flanagan is out due to injury (concussion), as is Ben Sexton (not specified, but he’s with the team on the trip). Burgdoerfer, incidentally, was hurt in the first period and did not return.


With 11 forwards and the early injury to Blunden the forward lines changed–Chlapik joined the first line with Reinhart taking his spot on the third (Burgdoerfer’s injury meant more playing time for Chabot and Jaros, with Erkamps getting a more regular rotation).

Special Teams
Perron-Paul-Rodewald/Jaros-Lajoie (scored)
Werek-Chlapik-Gagne/Chabot-Erkamps (once)
Perron-Paul-Rodewald/Lajoie-Erkamps (once)
Werek-Chlapik-Gagne/Chabot-Jaros (once)
Reinhart-Ciampini/Chabot-Lajoie (scored)
Penalty Kill
Paul-Perron/Sieloff-Jaros (once)
Reinhart-Randell/Englund-Chabot (once)
Rodewald-Randell/Englund-Chabot (probably meant to be Reinhart-Randell, but Rodewald couldn’t get off for the change)
O’Brien/Englund-Sieloff (5-on-3)

Notable Plays
Paul made a steal that gave him a mini breakaway in the first (the play ultimately lead to Rodewald’s goal); Chlapik made a great cross-ice feed on the PP in the first, but the shot didn’t get to the net; he and Chabot had a nice give and go play later in that period; Chabot saved a goal, stopping a shot while Taylor was down and out; Chlapik set up O’Brien in the clear in the third, but he couldn’t get the shot off

Notable Blundens/Errors
Sieloff made a bad pinch in the first resulting in a 2-on-1 against; Burgdoerfer’s injury was entirely self-caused, as he went leg-on-leg with the Hartford player in the neutral zone; Werek couldn’t score on an empty net

Player Notes
Burgdoerfer: before he got hurt the only notable thing was a turnover
Erkamps: didn’t play a ton even when it dropped to six defenseman, but he did make a great defensive block late in the third
Sieloff: only notables were a bad pinch in the first and a failed clear in the third
Englund: mixed bag for the big Swede, with a bit of good and bad
Lajoie: bit of a quiet game for him; made a pass too hot to handle on a 3-on-1 along with a nice defensive play
Jaros: a strong game all around for him and he benefited from additional playing time
Chabot: wasn’t as dominant as his opening two AHL games, but didn’t need to be here and he was just as involved
Ciampini: two notable plays: asleep at the wheel defensively on the goal against, and then made the play that resulted in Reinhart’s goal
Blunden: hurt early without having done anything notable (his absence on the PK and PP didn’t hurt the team at all)
Randell: his empty net goal matches his production from all of last season–Randy Lee knows how to pick ’em!
Werek: league’s best player is passed a gimme by Chlapik but can’t figure out the empty net
O’Brien: typical Jimothy game–took a dumb penalty, failed to capitalized on offensive chances, but was solid defensively
Perron: looked a bit rusty and made a terrible turnover in front of his own net in the second, but there were a lot of positive signs
Gagne: starting to play a bit more and made a great tip on the goal, but otherwise largely invisible
Reinhart: did not play a whole lot, but the offensive tools are there
Chlapik: deserves a better fate–made a number of excellent passes that did not wind up in the back of the net–also pushed his scoring chance streak to five games
Rodewald: I was critical of signing him to a two year deal, but the early returns have been good–not just offensively, but defensively (albeit I’m sure he’d like an opportunity he had in the first back, where he shot the puck over the net from the slot)
Paul: rounding into form–showing good speed, puck control, and an ability to steal the puck from the opposition

This was a solid win for the BSens–while they didn’t dominate (despite the score) they were able to parlay strong goaltending and capitalizing on their chances into a convincing victory. The win came without many of their veterans (McCormick was suspended, Blunden and Burgdoerfer were both hurt in the first) and I’d like to hope Kleinendorst will refrain from his veteran-addiction that was so problematic in the opening two games (there was no sign of this in Saturday’s game, but I can hope whether it makes sense or not).

Saturday’s game saw more lineup changes (due to injury, returns from suspension, etc), but the winning streak came to an end as the BSens blew a 2-0 lead late in the third and lost in a shootout. The team showed signs of fatigue, but before my observations, here are the basics (you can see the box score here):
Shots: 27-41
PP: 1-3
PK: 4-4 (almost a minute of 5-on-3)
Goaltender: Andrew Hammond (I had him making six key saves); Danny Taylor backed him up

The Opposition
The Bruins are a talented team and dominated almost the entire game; of benefit to the BSens is that Providence started their third-string goaltender (for those keeping track this is the second time in six games where the BSens have faced a third-stringer–the other was their win against Hershey)

The Goals
1. PP Chabot bounces the puck off of Werek and in
2. Rodewald bangs in McCormick’s rebound
3. Providence: top of the circle shot beats Hammond high
4. Providence: broken play where Sieloff can’t control the stick of his man in front
Third Bruin scores, BSens go 0-3

Scoring chances (13): O’Brien (x2), Werek (x2), Perron (x2), Chabot, Paul, Chlapik, Rodewald, Lajoie, Jaros, Gagne

The Roster
Blunden, Flanagan, and Sexton are out with injuries (as are the almost forgotten Driedger and Colin White). McCormick and Dunn returned from suspension, while Burgdoerfer was also able to return; Erkamps was scratched and the team went with six defensemen for the first time since game three in Syracuse.

Perron spent most of the game on other lines, particularly replacing Ciampini on the third line. Chabot had the most ice time among defensemen, playing with a wide variety of partners (I think Sieloff is the only one he didn’t have a shift with).

Special Teams
Reinhart-Chlapik-Werek/Burgdoerfer-Chabot (scored)
Perron-Ciampini/Englund-Jaros (Burg was penalized at the time so Eng remained)
OT 3-on-3
O’Brien-Gagne/Chabot (Perron replaced Gagne with the other two unable to get off until a stoppage in play)
Penalty Kill
O’Brien-McCormick/Sieloff-Englund (Burgdoerfer was penalized so couldn’t be part of his usual rotation)
Perron-Randell/Sieloff-Englund (same notation as above)
McCormick/Sieloff-Englund (5-on-3)
McCormick (stopped), O’Brien (stopped), Rodewald (missed the net)
This is the most Chabot has been used on the PK and Jaros playing with him in that role is also new (the Slovak played with Sieloff in Burgdoerfer’s absence against Hartford, and with Englund prior to that). I’m not sure why Jaros hasn’t been moved to play with Chabot on the powerplay (Burgdoerfer is like a fish out of water on the powerplay and should be nowhere near the first unit or, really, the man advantage at all).

Notable Plays
Chabot saves a goal in the first (his second game in a row stopping a shot while his goaltender is out of the net–in this case Hammond lost the puck behind the net)

Notable Blunders/Errors
Despite being hemmed in their own zone for much of the game and committing a lot of turnovers, nothing in particular stands out as especially egregious

Randell was hurt early in the third, but eventually returned to action. Also of note, Providence had a goal in the third waived off for a high stick (this was before their first goal that counted).

Player Notes
Burgdoerfer: probably should have taken the night off after getting hurt the previous game (two bad turnovers and a dumb penalty on the night)
Sieloff: pretty standard game from him–nothing flashy, but largely dependable defensive play
Englund: also standard play (a turnover, a good defensive play–otherwise invisible)
Lajoie: quiet but solid
Jaros: other than a bad penalty had a very strong game
Chabot: a strong game offensively and defensively
Randell: what does he achieve?
Dunn: utterly invisible (played the least by far)
Ciampini: didn’t make any mistakes, so there’s that; one good steal
Gagne: not very noticeable other than a clear breakaway in OT
Reinhart: much like Dunn above he didn’t warrant any notation
Perron: best game of the year for him–fully healthy and showing off good hands and instincts; had a couple of steals along with scoring chances
O’Brien: good speed, zero hands–the song remains the same (no idea why he was used in the shootout)
McCormick: I still don’t think he belongs on the first unit powerplay or as an early shooter in the shootout, but he had a solid game
Chlapik: kept his scoring chance streak alive, but his game felt a bit hampered by his linemates
Werek: I’ve seen him enough to understand the kind of player he is–not a possession driver, but a net-crasher; he isn’t noticeable defensively and tends to turn the puck over if he holds onto it too long, but the former isn’t awful
Rodewald: average game for him–continued his goal scoring streak (he has a great shot)
Paul: a solid game from him, but not as dominant as the night before

Like a heroine addict Kleinendorst couldn’t resist putting McCormick on the ice as much as possible; there was also more O’Brien than made sense and it will be interesting to see if/when he plays them an appropriate amount (they ought to be in second line TOI territory–both are fine on the PK wherever you want them). It’s worth noting the three rookie defensemen were the strongest on the blueline. Because neither Dunn or Randell played much the team essentially played three lines for the second game in a row and I can only imagine how exhausted they will be for this afternoon’s tilt against Springfield.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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.

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
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
Penalty Kill
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)


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.

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
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)
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.


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.

*Most common combos–once again Kleinendorst moved away from his initial lineup fairly early (O’Brien played a ton, Reinhart significantly less)
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
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/Englund-Jaros (gave up the pp goal)
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.

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)
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
*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)

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


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


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)