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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Belleville 0, Laval 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa’s ECHL Situation: A Quick Refresher

echl

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

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

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

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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

randomness

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

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

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

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

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

belleville sens

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

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

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

echl

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

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)