Belleville 2, Laval 6

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

The Goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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