Belleville Senators: Assessing the Players (November)

Another month is in the books for the BSens, so it’s time to take a look at performances through November (I’ll do team stuff separately). For the October review, go here.

Before I get into individual breakdowns, here’s the leaderboard for points-per-game and shots-per-game (with a minimum of 5 games played):
Rodewald 1.00
O’Brien 0.63
Chlapik/Perron/McCormick 0.61
Reinhart/Werek 0.53
Chabot 0.50

Even Strength PPG (minus empty-netters)
Rodewald 0.85
Perron/Werek 0.53
Chlapik 0.46
O’Brien 0.45
Murray 0.41

Powerplay Point Leaders
McCormick 3
O’Brien/Chlapik/Chabot/Gagne 2

O’Brien 3.09
Chabot 2.75
Gagne 2.69
White 2.53
McCormick 2.3

Players below are arranged by points-per-game (with the previous month’s noted in brackets). Acronyms: PPP=powerplay points, SHP= shorthanded points [there were none in November], ENP=empty-net points, SHPG= shots per game, vet=veteran contract status; career=PPG before this season

Ben Harpur 1-1-1-2 2.0 (0.00) SHPG 2.0
Contract: 17-18; 3rd pro season; career 0.30; last season 0.42
A Jekyll and Hyde ELC his first two years, where he didn’t look like even an AHL player his rookie season and then seemed reasonably effective last year. Coming off injury he was atrocious in his Belleville debut, but in his solitary November game he was fine. Boucher is a big fan so I think the BSens are safe from seeing him play 30 minutes a night for awhile.

Jack Rodewald 7-2-5-7 1.0 (0.80) ENP 1 SHPG 1.71
Contract: 18-19; 3rd pro season; career 0.35; last season 0.41
An undrafted WHLer, he was signed by Toronto, but couldn’t crack a talented Marlies lineup. The BSens picked him up as part of the general detritus shipped in the Dion Phaneuf trade, but an early hot streak last season saw him stick around and in the off-season earn a 2-year AHL deal. Since then the org has seen enough to rip up that deal and sign him to a 2-year ELC and brought him up to Ottawa for a considerable amount of time (he played in four games). As nice as his numbers look it’s important to note that he had a four-point game, meaning his production wasn’t quite as regular as it appears (that’s a minor caveat at this point however, as he’s having a strong season).

Maxime Lajoie 3-0-2-2 0.66 (0.33) PPP 1 SHPG 0.66 ECHL 1-0-0-0
Contract: 19-20; rookie; last season 0.61 (WHL)
Missed a lot of the month with a foot injury and that absence was heavily felt. While there’s plenty of room for growth in his game, he’s one of the safest passers on the blueline and, along with Chabot, about the only defenseman who can consistently set-up point shots for others.

Jim O’Brien 11-6-1-7 0.63 (0.33) PPP 2 SHPG 3.09
Contract: 17-18 (AHL); 9th pro season (vet); career 0.55; last season 0.45
Former first-round bust for the Sens (drafted in DiDomenico’s year), he’s spent the last three seasons drifting about the hockey world–an aborted KHL attempt that brought him to Hershey, then New Jersey signed him, and finally San Antonio. His numbers have declined precipitously the previous two seasons and no one should expect O’Brien to put significant totals. Kleinendorst coached him previously (10-12) and that familiarity has seen him play O’Brien far too much. He has good speed, is solid defensively and has a decent shot, but he can’t distribute the puck and doesn’t make players around him better.

Filip Chlapik 13-2-6-8 0.61 (0.63) PPP 2 SHPG 1.15
Contract: 19-20; rookie; last season 1.59 (QMJHL)
After a promising start he’s been getting jerked around by the coaching staff–played all over the lineup–and despite it all he’s remained quite consistent in his production. The biggest impact of him playing less is fewer shots on goal and, should it continue, his points will eventually drift downward.

Francis Perron 13-2-6-8 0.61 (0.43) PPP 1 SHPG 1.61
Contract: 18-19; 2nd pro season; last season 0.38
Offensively gifted, I don’t know what his AHL-ceiling is, but despite being buried on the third-line his numbers are back around where you’d expect them in his sophomore season. While Kleinendorst doesn’t trust him enough for top-six playing time, he spent the month experimenting with him on special teams–a lot of PK time (to mixed results) and a lot of second-unit PP time (to mixed results). Finding the right linemates for him has proven a major problem.

Max McCormick 13-2-6-8 0.61 (0.43) PPP 3 ENP 1 SHPG 2.3
Contract: 17-18; 4th pro season; career 0.42; last season 0.54
I’m pretty sure Randy Lee has his poster over his bed–plays far, far too much for a player with his limitations. Given top 5-on-5 minutes and top-PP time, his production has not increased commensurately, and yet this has had no impact on how he’s being utilized. He’s a very good third liner and a decent second line player at this level, but has no business on the top line (or top PP).

Max Reinhart 13-4-3-7 0.53 (0.25) PPP 1 ENP 1 SHPG 1.84
Contract: 17-18; 6th pro season (vet); career 0.59; last season 0.44 (DEL)
Former Calgary pick (3-64/10) and son of former NHLer Paul, he failed out of Calgary, had a middling season with Milwaukee, and then a disastrous season in Germany. After an underwhelming start to the season a few points seems to have prompted an overreaction from the coaching staff who are forcing him into a scoring role he’s really not suited for (he’s more of a third-line, second-PP unit kind of guy). Doesn’t really distribute or carry the puck, so needs linemates who can do that for him.

Ethan Werek 13-3-4-7 0.53 (1.00) SHPG 1.84
Contract: 17-18 (AHL); 7th pro season (vet); career 0.36; last season 0.49
A second-round pick by the Rangers (2-47/09), the former OHLer was traded to Arizona (during the happy days of Don Maloney’s tenure as GM), where he failed to establish himself. Stops in Providence, Charlotte, and Texas proved he has enough talent to hang around the AHL, but not beyond that. Initially signed to a PTO after not making the team, he got off to a hot start, but the moment he started regressing to the mean his ice-time was cut. Despite that, the team signed him to an AHL-deal and, frankly, they need his offense and to use him better.

Thomas Chabot 8-1-3-4 0.50 (0.60) PPP 2 SHPG 2.75
Contract: 19-20; rookie; last season 1.32 (QMJHL)
Has played well, but November wasn’t as kind as October. A lot of that has to do with his partners in my opinion, as well as the bizarre first PP units he’s been put on. Currently in Ottawa, given Boucher’s eccentricity I won’t be surprised if he’s returned.

Gabriel Gagne 13-5-1-6 0.46 (0.44) PPP 2 SHPG 2.69
Contract: 18-19; 2nd pro season; last season 0.14
At the start of the season he barely played and saw virtually no powerplay time. In November he’s played an absolute ton, but with roughly the same level of production. The issue is less about his limitations and more about the limitations of his linemates.

Colin White 13-3-3-6 0.46 (n/a) SHPG 2.53
Contract: 18-19; 1st pro season; last season (NCAA) 0.94
The Sens unwisely burned a year of his ELC last season for no real reason. This year he was injured throughout October and his first month with the BSens has been a disappointment–despite an abundance of skill these are poor numbers (with no points amidst considerable PP time). Much of this struggle is down to linemates.

Jordan Murray 12-3-2-5 0.41 (0.33) SHPG 1.66 ECHL 1-1-0-1
Contract: 18-19 (AHL); rookie; last season 1.33 (CIS)
Undrafted QMJHLer spent four years in Canadian University before a 5-game audition earned him a two-year (AHL) contract with the org. Does one game make a season? He has the team’s only hat-trick this season (including an OT winner), but if you slice out that game he’s just 11-0-2-2 (0.18) for the month and not been impressive. As an offensive player he’s been a detriment on the PP–right now I’d rather have Erkamps playing in the six spot, but the coaching staff still has visions of that one game dancing in their heads.

Daniel Ciampini 10-1-2-3 0.30 (0.43) SHPG 1.0
Contract: 17-18 (AHL); 3rd pro season; career 0.25; last season 1.00 (ECHL)
Undrafted collegiate signed with Worcester after college, but couldn’t stick with the org and spent time with Rockford and Ontario subsequently (largely in their ECHL affiliates). He was a late signing by the BSens to add some forward depth and was initially loaned to Brampton, but a shortage in forwards meant he hasn’t played in the ECHL yet. On the whole he’s been a positive contributor in limited time, particularly once he was firmly kept on the fourth line.

Vincent Dunn 7-0-2-2 0.28 (0.25) SHPG 0.85
Contract: 17-18; 3rd pro season; career ECHL 0.38; last season 0.25 (ECHL)
Former QMJHL pest is still considered an AHL rookie because of how few games he’s played. In watching him his problem is pretty clear–beyond the lack of puck skills, he just can’t skate. Sadly he’s a better option than lineup-regular Randell, but that’s less about him being useful and more about the latter being useless.

Nick Paul 6-0-1-1 0.16 (0.50) SHPG 1.66
Contract: 17-18; 3rd pro season; career 0.46; last season 0.51
Dallas pick (4-101/13) that came over in the disastrous Jason Spezza trade. He struggled in his rookie season with Binghamton, but was better as a sophomore. Paul is big, rangy, good at both ends of the ice, and can beat players one-on-one, but struggles with confidence and to function without a possession-heavy winger. He hasn’t looked good since Rodewald’s initial call-up in late October (there were signs of life in his last game, however). I don’t think he’s earned any of his NHL call-ups, incidentally.

Eric Burgdoerfer 13-0-2-2 0.15 (0.44) SHPG 0.84
Contract: 17-18; 8th pro season (vet); career 0.24; last season 0.32
Unsigned RPI grad (career high of 7 points) made his way onto ECHL Bakersfield’s roster and four so-so seasons with them cracked Hershey’s lineup for two seasons and then Rochester. He’s a great example of regressing to the mean, as his numbers have tumbled hard despite copious amounts of time with Thomas Chabot and on the PP. I ought to set up the Burgdoerfer Turnover Meter–no other player so consistently has catastrophic turnovers that rarely turn into goals–it’s a skill.

Macoy Erkamps 7-0-1-1 0.14 (0.00) SHPG 1.14 ECHL 1-0-0-0
Contract: 18-19; 2nd season; last season 0.43 (ECHL)
A CHL free agent signing by the org (none of which have ever turned out), he was buried in the ECHL most of last season. Played a lot more this month, although in one of his games got exactly one shift (November 22nd). Oddly, despite having pretty good PK numbers, he saw almost no time there this month. Incidentally, the AHL website has corrected their error in listing him for 5 games in October.

Patrick Sieloff 13-0-1-1 0.07 (0.22) SHPG 0.84
Contract: 17-18; 5th pro season; career 0.18; last season 0.23
Former Calgary pick (2-42/12) who came up through the US Development program. Offensively limited at every level, he was traded as an RFA to Ottawa in exchange for Alex Chiasson. He’s exactly what you expect–a very safe player with basically no offensive ability at all (he’s actually below his usual targets for the month).

Andreas Englund 13-0-1-1 0.07 (0.22) SHPG 1.07
Contract: 18-19; 2nd pro season; last season 0.14
He played very much as advertised, albeit a little under his meager offensive expectations: dependable defensive defenseman with limited offensive instincts and abilities. I’m not sure if there’s another gear for him or not–right now he’s basically Sieloff who threws a few extra hits.

Ben Sexton 3-0-0-0 (0.50) SHPG 1.0
Contract: 18-19; 4th pro season; career 0.39; last season 0.57
Son of former president and GM of the Ottawa Senators, the undersized collegiate player was drafted by Boston (7-206/09); he failed out of the organisation, signing an AHL-deal with Albany where he had a career year. This earned him a two year deal with the BSens. Looked like a solid addition in October, albeit the lack of results in his November games are a bit worrying for a guy who plays as much as he does.

Chris Kelly 3-0-0-0 (n/a) SHPG 0.66
Contract: PTO; 17th pro season (vet); career 0.54 (last AHL season 04-05); last season 0.14 (NHL)
The signing is incredibly puzzling, but fits the org’s attachment to both known-quantities and defense-only veterans. He’s been exactly what you’d expect–solid defensively, useless offensively. He doesn’t improve the team at all and just eats up ice time better used for younger players.

Justin Vaive 4-0-0-0 (0.00) SHPG 0.25
Contract: PTO; 7th pro season; career 0.24; last season 0.13
Son-of-Rick was an Anaheim draft pick long ago (4-92/07, the O’Brien year), but as a collegian accomplished nothing and that’s how things have continued for him. He’s big, but he has ECHL-level hands so has accumulated games in the AHL largely based on size. There’s no chance the BSens actually sign him, but the fact Kleinendorst dressed him on the second line twice boggles the mind.

Tyler Randell 11-0-0-0 (0.11) SHPG 0.72
Contract: 17-18; 6th pro season; career 0.18; last season 0.16
Boston actually wasted a draft pick on the OHL pugilist (6-176/09) and he spent parts of six seasons punching people. I was not a fan of this signing which stinks of Randy Lee. Through 20 games he still has no points versus a goaltender and I have no idea what it will take for him to be healthy scratch.

Christian Jaros 6-0-0-0 (0.63) SHPG 2.0
Contract: 19-20; rookie; last season 0.36 (SHL)
Has his month derailed by a concussion and only in the last game did he truly look like himself. Great speed, cannon of a shot, physical, but needs the right partner to maximize his potential.

Cody Donaghey 1-0-0-0* (n/a) ECHL 10-0-1-1
* did not play a shift in the game he was dressed
Contract: 18-19; rookie; last season 0.77 (QMJHL)
The org seems keen on getting rid of the CHL FA ever since they acquired him; Toronto signed him and included him with the assorted detritus involved in the Dion Phaneuf trade. He’s spent virtually the entire season in Brampton and while his numbers in October were decent he hasn’t produced much in November. Will he ever see time in Belleville? Barring injuries I’d guess not.

Andrew Hammond 5-1-0 .916 2.62
Traded to Colorado; 5th pro season (vet); last season .837 4.08 (NHL)
The team finally got his salary off the books with the Matt Duchene trade, but the Avalanche have two prospects playing for San Antonio (Ville Husso and Spencer Martin), so he remains with Belleville when in the AHL. He’s been rock solid for the team and is responsible for virtually all their wins in November.

Chris Driedger 1-2-0 .909 3.04 ECHL 1-0-0 .933 2.00
Contract: 17-18; 4th pro season; last season .900 3.22
Missed most of October due to injury and may not have played if Hammond hadn’t been recalled; has been much better than Taylor when he’s played, but clearly should play behind Hammond when he’s with the team

Danny Taylor 0-3-1 .860 4.59
Contract: 17-18; 12th pro season (vet); last season .931 1.93 (KHL)
Has been an absolute disaster this month and he wasn’t much better in October. I’m honestly surprised as Taylor’s track record prior to this was quite good, but what can you do with him now? He has a fat AHL-salary and done nothing to make another team want him. With Colorado loaning Hammond back to the team it looks like he’s going to rattle around as the second and third goaltender until he either finds his game or is permanently locked into the pressbox.

Marcus Hogberg ECHL 3-1-0 .937 2.45
Contract: 18-19; rookie; last season .932 1.89 (SHL)
Had a rough start with the inept Beast, but is looking much more like the promising prospect he is this month. Unfortunately for him there’s no room in Belleville for him barring a roster move. The move that makes the most sense is dumping Taylor, but he may well be unmovable (the second choice could be Driedger, but I’m not sure they are ready to give up on him). It wouldn’t be the worst thing for Hogberg to spend the season in Brampton, but if he can keep his play at this level he’ll deserve some time in the AHL.

Overall numbers dropped across the board, with minor inflation for both McCormick and O’Brien whose ice time increased exponentially. The coaching staff clearly has issues trusting the younger forwards and that’s throttling the team’s offensive potential (on the BSens broadcast last night Kleinedorst was talking about wanting the team’s shots to increase, but looking at the lineup he put out I’m not sure how he imagined that was going to happen). Things aren’t as dire on the blueline, but that’s largely because the prospects are the only ones who can generate any offense. When I post about the team I’ll look at special team’s play etcetera and take a look at what’s worked and what hasn’t.

As a terrible self-promoter I wanted to bring attention to my patreon (the approach of “leave a link, they will come” doesn’t really work). I just have the bare bones for it up (I’m not sure what people would want–access to rough notes perhaps?). I put a lot of hours into this and it’s a lot easier to continue to do that with support. Before I started writing about hockey I was disappointed by the bland, cliche-driven coverage I was getting and while that’s improved somewhat at the NHL-level, it’s still a mess in the minors. If my work is something you enjoy and you have a few spare coins in your pocket your support is greatly appreciated.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Belleville 3, Laval 2 (OT)

I went over the BSens player usage the other day, but there was no sign of any awareness of that dynamic in the team tonight, which carried on its season-long trend of being outshot and playing not to lose. While they came out with two-points, they gave up a point to their division rival by surrendering two separate one-goal leads. Before I get into more specific comments, here are the basics (the box score):
Shots: 25-33
PP: 1-3
PK: 2-3
Goaltender: Andrew Hammond got the start (his first since Colorado returned him) and was his usual solid self (he made six key saves by my count); Chris Driedger actually backed up, with Danny Taylor scratched (Marcus Hogberg remains in Brampton).

The Opposition
Laval came into the game 9-7-5, having beat the BSens in both their previous meetings. The Rocket are a very talented, but porous team; they didn’t dominate as much as in the two October matches, but still held the edge both in possession and offensive pressure.

The Goals
1. White scores on a breakaway
2. Laval – Paul gets caught puck-watching and doesn’t take his man who scores top shelf from just above the dot
3. PP O’Brien one-timer off the Lajoie pass (this is the BSens first PP goal in five games); the set-up is exactly what Lajoie and Jaros used to do earlier in the season
4. Laval PP – low shot through a screen from just above the dot
5. Rodewald on the wrap around (great individual effort in the midst of a Laval line change)

Scoring chances (14): Paul (x3), O’Brien (x3), Rodewald (x2), Gagne (x2), White, Werek, Perron, Englund

This is the most scoring chances they’ve had since they last played Laval, but is less an indication of how dangerous they were and more about how loose the Rocket defense is even when granting limited opportunities.

The Roster
O’Brien returned from injury with Ciampini drawing the short straw (rather than the completely useless Randell, who is now 0-20 in points vs goaltenders). We also saw Lajoie return to the lineup as Chabot was called up to Ottawa.

The Lines

The ineffective top line returns (now with 3 goals in 9 games), as all the lines from the 5-1 loss to Toronto were tweaked (it’s difficult to say how much of that was actual adjustment and how much a forced tweak via the return of O’Brien)–pretty bizarre combinations on the whole, as the team’s two-top scorers entering the game lined up with Randell on the fourth line and were not on either PP unit. Needless to say, none of these combinations were particularly effective.

Special Teams
McCormick-O’Brien-Rodewald/Lajoie-White (scored)
Penalty Kill
Kelly-Rodewald/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer (scored on)
Chlapik-Paul/Englund (Rodewald jumped on for Paul in the midst of the first line change and scored)

The PP was tweaked with O’Brien’s return and Chabot’s departure; Lajoie made a positive impact on the first unit and was responsible for its goal (but it’s not a good combination in general); the second unit was completely ineffective. Unlike the game against Toronto, Kelly played a lot on the PK, but in combinations not used before. Also of note: Randell was removed from the PK.

Notable Plays
Murray almost own-goaled by batting at the puck in front of his net (first); he then couldn’t get a shot off right in front of the net (nice passing play by White-Perron to get him the puck; also first period); Burgdoerfer turnover lead to a scoring chance against (bizarre play from the blueline where he fired a pass along the boards to no one with Werek right in front of him; also first period); McCormick shot the puck over an empty net (first); Jaros hit the post (first); Burgdoerfer hit the crossbar (first). McCormick hit the crossbar (second). The first period, as you can see, was the most eventful from a Belleville point of view.

Player Notes
Murray: benefited from having Lajoie do most of the puck-work for him, but on his own didn’t accomplish much
Burgdoerfer: normal number of catastrophic turnovers from him (three) and, in general, pretty typical performance
Sieloff: solid if unremarkable game
Jaros: finally seemed himself, fully recovered; made some nice plays offensively (besides the post he hit) and defensively (particularly in the second); took a stick in the face early but was fine
Englund: had a bonafide chance to win the game in overtime in the slot, otherwise routine safe game from him
Lajoie: also seemed fully healthy for the first time since his injury; lot’s of great puck-movement and simple plays
Randell: what does this guy do for the team, really? Despite a mountain of opportunities he has no points through 20 games (ignoring his empty-netter); he’s not particularly physical, hasn’t fought much…why Kleinendorst won’t bench him I really don’t know
Werek: the team’s top-scorer barely played as he was buried on the fourth line
Chlapik: it’s the same story as Werek, except he was put on the ice in OT and he and Paul dominated in that context
Kelly: his shortcomings offensively held back his linemates
White: other than his individual effort to get a goal still hasn’t been given an effective niche in the lineup
Perron: bit of a mixed bag offensively/defensively, but mostly positive given the limitations of the line he was on (no special teams time for him, which is quite rare)
Reinhart: no idea why he’s on the second line as he was completely invisible
Paul: played a better game than against the Marlies, but seeing him with Chlapik I wonder if we’ll see that combination subsequently
Rodewald: not a great fit with Reinhart as his center, but a great effort on the winner
Gagne: speaking of poor fits, his line continues to accomplish nothing, but as usual he had a couple of exciting offensive bursts unrelated to his linemates
O’Brien: Jimothy picked up a goal on his return, so good for him; it was a solid effort overall
McCormick: he’s now played 20 games and only scored 2 goals against goaltenders; the assists are nice, but he has to be better

The Sens are lucky to come out of this with two points and the longer their struggles go on the more the finger has to be pointed at the coaching staff. While the overall talent on the team isn’t particularly high, they could be used more effectively than they are.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Belleville Player Usage

However you assess the talent in Belleville the one thing that’s within the control of the organisation is how to use that talent. I’ve complained about some of the decisions before, but it’s worth going through the numbers so that you can get a sense of who is or isn’t performing given that usage. We don’t have things like TOI recorded in the AHL, but we do have lineups and while adjustments happen in game at the least they tell us a coach’s intentions and how he adapts the lineup from game-to-game in hopes of better results. I have excluded players who have played less than 10 games–anyone eager for Chris DiDomenico’s information etc let me know in the comments. I’m also addressing defensemen differently since the order in which Kleinendorst’s combos are listed rarely means anything other than the third pairing. Below I’ve listed players in order of who has played most on the top lines (21 total games; 1st/2nd/3rd/4th):

Games Played by Line
McCormick/O’Brien 13/5/1/0
Gagne 8/4/8/1
Paul 6/7/0/0
Werek 5/9/4/0
Rodewald 4/7/0/0
White 3/8/1/0
Chlapik 2/5/10/3
Perron 0/4/13/2
Reinhart 0/4/7/9
Ciampini 0/0/7/10
Randell 0/0/6/13
Dunn 0/0/0/11

So what does this mean? It illustrates who Kleinendorst trusts–not to score, as we’ll get into, but to play responsibly–to play safe. For over two-thirds of this season the tandem of Max McCormick and Jim O’Brien have been on the top line–both players best known for their defensive play, which isn’t conducive to consistent or regular production (they are, in fact, producing at the same rate they have previously as second or third-line players). On the flip side of this are two offensively gifted prospects, Filip Chlapik and Francis Perron. Each has spent more than half the season playing third-line minutes despite their offensive gifts. I’ve picked these four for a very deliberate reason, as given the rather large difference in ice time between them here’s their production thus far this season:

Chlapik 20-3-8-11 4 PPP
O’Brien 19-6-4-10 1 PPP
McCormick 19-3-7-10 2 PPP 1 SHP 2 empty-net points
Perron 19-2-8-10 2 PPP 1 empty-net point

Virtually identical production, which shouldn’t be the case given the ice time disparity. The coaching staff aren’t idiots and recognise they are surrendering offense in doing this, but why then put the vets on the top powerplay unit as well (which continues to struggle)? It’s puzzling to say the least.

What about even-strength scoring–who is doing it–both collecting the points and on-ice for the production? The raw numbers first (again, excluding those who’ve played less than 10 games; games with points noted first; I’ve excluded empty-net production; in brackets are the on-ice per game averages):

Rodewald 11-8 10 OI (0.91)*
Paul 13-4 10 OI (0.77)
Werek 18-10 12 OI (0.66)
O’Brien 19-9 12 OI (0.63)
Gagne 21-8 12 OI (0.57)
Perron 19-7 11 OI (0.57)
McCormick 19-5 11 OI (0.57)
Chlapik 20-7 11 OI (0.55)
Reinhart 20-7 10 OI (0.50)
White 12-5 6 OI (0.50)
Ciampini 17-6 7 OI (0.41)
Dunn 11-3 4 OI (0.36)
Randell 19-0 3 OI (0.16)

*amusingly Rodewald was given an additional three assists in Belleville’s 5-2 win over Charlotte after the game was completed, something I didn’t realise until I was putting this together

A few things stand out–on a per-game basis both Nick Paul and Jack Rodewald are way ahead of the curve, albeit Paul’s actual point totals are poor and both are on the low end of games played. Beyond that it’s fairly even across the board, which does not correspond to how ice time is being handed out. White’s tallies are below expectations and Randell’s indicate he shouldn’t be dressing.

These are all in isolation however–it’s a team game, there are linemates, so what about lines? Which lines are producing? This was fascinating to dive into. I’ve thrown out DiDomenico’s data (for obvious reasons), as well as the empty-net goals (the BSens have three), but what’s interesting is that of the 33 5-on-5 goals scored, 9 (or 27%) are by lines that have never been formerly been put together and virtually none of the scoring lines have been kept together for more than two or three games. Roster movement plays a part in this, but only a part. I’ve organised this list by how often the line has been in the lineup card:

McCormick-O’Brien-Gagne – 8 games, 3 goals (0.37)
Perron-Chlapik-Gagne – 3 games, 3 goals (1.00)
Werek-Reinhart-Rodewald – 3 games, 2 goals (0.66)
Werek-Chlapik-Perron – 3 games, 1 goal (0.33)
Werek-O’Brien-Sexton – 2 games, 2 goals (1.00)
Werek-Paul-Rodewald – 2 games, 1 goal (0.50)
Werek-Paul-O’Brien – 2 games, 1 goal (0.50)
Werek-Chlapik-White – 2 games, 1 goal (0.50)
Perron-Chlapik-White – 2 games, 1 goal (0.50)
Dunn-Reinhart-Randell – 2 games, 1 goal (0.50)

And that’s it. No other scoring line has played together for more than a single game (this despite the fact that Paul-White-Rodewald scored three times or that McCormick-Chlapik-Ciampini scored twice, both in single-game combinations)–that doesn’t mean they haven’t occasionally been formulated again within a game, but it’s awfully strange to stick with something that isn’t producing (the first line listed for example) and move away from ones that are.

What about duos–which pairs are most productive (these are on-ice for goals rather than points, compared to GP together)?

White-Paul 3/2 (1.5)
McCormick-Werek 3/2 (1.5)
Rodewald-Paul 6/5 (1.2)
Chlapik-Gagne 4/4 (1.0)
Werek-Rodewald 4/4 (1.0)
White-Rodewald 3/3 (1.0)
Chlapik-Perron 7/8 (0.87)
Reinhart-Werek 3/4 (0.75)
Perron-Gagne 5/8 (0.62)
O’Brien-Werek 3/6 (0.5)
Reinhart-Ciampini 3/7 (0.42)
O’Brien-Gagne 3/9 (0.33)
McCormick-Gagne 3/10 (0.3)

The nightmarish numbers at the bottom illustrate the problems of putting three shooters together. The headscratcher in all of this is: why isn’t there more follow through on this and other results? It’s not rational for a team that often struggles to score (2 or fewer goals in 11 of 21 games) to avoid combinations that work. Why not play McCormick with either Werek or Chlapik (or both), where most of his production has come from, rather than sticking him with O’Brien? Why not put the Paul-White-Rodewald line back together to see if they can replicate their success? Etc–it’s the kind of thing that can make you crazy.

There are similar signs of conservatism, of playing it safe, on the blueline. With the injuries and call-ups there have been a bevvy of combinations, but we’ll look first at individual numbers and then combinations (I’ve excluded Harpur because he’s only played in 4 games; the on-ice per-game ratio is in brackets):

Chabot 13-7 11 OI (0.8)
Burgdoerfer 21-6 15 OI (0.7)
Murray 14-6 9 OI (0.6)
Sieloff 21-3 13 OI (0.6)
Jaros 14-5 7 OI (0.5)
Lajoie 11-4 6 OI (0.5)
Englund 21-2 11 OI (0.5)
Erkamps 11-1 6 OI (0.5)

In terms of ratios it’s fairly close other than Chabot. What about pairings? Once again we see a lot of the 5-on-5 production comes from little used combinations (8 of 33, or 24%). There’s also a reluctance to pair offensive blueliners together:

Sieloff-Burgdoerfer 12 games, 5 OI goals (0.41)
Englund-Jaros 9 games, 4 OI goals (0.44)
Chabot-Burgdoerfer 6 games, 6 OI goals (1.0)
Murray-Erkamps 5 games, 4 OI goals (0.80)
Lajoie-Jaros 4 games, 1 OI goal (0.25)
Chabot-Englund 4 games, 1 OI goal (0.25)
Sieloff-Englund 4 games, 1 OI goal (0.25)
Lajoie-Murray 2 games, 1 OI goal (0.50)
Chabot-Murray 2 games, 1 OI goal (0.50)

Everything else is in single games; the most productive non-unit is oddly Englund-Burgdoerfer (3 OI), despite neither being particularly gifted offensively. Sieloff-Harpur, incidentally, played 4 games together (4 OI). Offensive combos like Chabot-Jaros and Lajoie-Burgdoerfer, despite success, simply aren’t used except on the powerplay or in desperate circumstances. One particular oddity is that Erkamps has proven a productive partner with virtually everyone except Englund.

What we can hope for through all of this is a change in mindset where Kleinendorst unglues his favourite veterans from the top-line and let’s the lineup breath. I’m not sure that will actually happen, but I can’t see a positive change unless he does.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 1, Toronto 2 (SO); Belleville 1, Toronto 5

The BSens lost back-to-back games against the talented Marlies over the weekend, something that should cause considerable concern if Randy Lee and the other people involved with the team want them to make the playoffs (something I think is likely). The addition of a broken down Chris Kelly didn’t help, nor the returns from Ottawa in the second game, but before I get into more specifics we’ll go game-by-game and start with the basics (the box score):
Shots: 27-32
PP: 0-2
PK: 3-4
Goaltender: Danny Taylor got the start and despite putting up good numbers was a beneficiary of his team playing two very good periods and not forcing him to make many key saves (I had him at 3 key saves); Chris Driedger backed him up.

The Opposition
Toronto is a very good team with an excellent record, but for two periods they played Belleville’s game–if you didn’t know any better you’d think they were evenly matched. The Marlies made adjustments and in the third and outshot the BSens 16-4 with that territorial domination continuing for the most part in the second game.

The Goals
1. Toronto PP – Perron gets puck-watching allowing the open man to bang in a rebound
2. Marlies leave the puck for the wrong team and Reinhart finds a wide open Chlapik who makes no mistake in the slot
Taylor was easily beat by both shooters in the shootout, as for the BSens:
Reinhart – stopped going 5-hole
Gagne – tries to deke and gets pokechecked

Scoring chances (7): Kelly (x2), Chlapik, Murray, Reinhart, Ciampini, Rodewald

The Roster
Chris Kelly was signed to a PTO (he’d been skating in Ottawa since getting cut by Edmonton), while Maxime Lajoie returned from injury and Justin Vaive dressed (for whatever reason); scratched was Vincent Dunn (earmarked for Brampton if the roster remains stable) and Macoy Erkamps (who was sent to Brampton subsequently); Jim O’Brien was out after taking a stick to the face in the previous game (joining Blunden, Flanagan, and Sexton on the injured side).

The Lines

If you’re asking why McCormick is still on the first line then I refer you to him still being on the first powerplay unit, which is to say: who knows? Luke Richardson used to do the same on the PP, but at least didn’t shove him into the top line this often. Chlapik on the fourth line is frustrating, but is not the first time Kleinendorst has done this to him (he also was in the 7-4 loss to Springfield; and no, scoring a goal didn’t change things for him the next game). Early to midway through the second Chlapik replaced Randell on the third line, but was slid back to the fourth in the third.

Special Teams
Power Play
Penalty Kill
Perron-McCormick/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer (scored on)

Who needs to score right? Put McCormick in every combination! Why he played half of OT is just another one of those mysteries (for those counting he has 2 goals against goaltenders in 19 games). Despite all the seeming PK variation just seven players account for the bulk of the ice time.

Notable Plays
Chlapik made a great pass to Vaive in the first, but the lumbering ECHLer couldn’t get his stick on the puck; credit to McCormick who made a great pass in the first to Perron which went nowhere. As you can see, not a lot of notable plays.

I’ll save player notes for after the game #2 stuff.

The following afternoon Belleville received the thumping I’d anticipated for their first game, this despite an injection of talent from the NHL. Before comments, here are the basics (the box score):
Shots: 29-39
PP: 0-4
PK: 4-5 (includes a lengthy 5-on-3)
Goaltender: Driedger got the start and is probably still having nightmares because of it, despite playing very well (twelve key saves by my count, despite giving up 4 goals); Taylor backed up; Andrew Hammond was reassigned by Colorado so will be back in the picture for the team’s next game.

The Goals
1. Toronto – Ciampini late on the backcheck and his man scores on a one-timer from the bottom of the circle
2. Toronto – Paul gets puck-watching and his man bangs in the puck
3. Toronto – Werek falls asleep positionally and his man scores from the slot
4. Toronto PP – tip-in (Englund facing the wrong way to take the man)
5. Gagne scores high with a wrist shot (this via the very briefly reconstituted Gagne-Chlapik-Perron line)
6. Toronto – empty net (Murray baubles the puck at the blueline)

Scoring chances (9): Gagne (x2, pp), Rodewald (x2), McCormick, Jaros, Chlapik, Perron, Murray

The Roster
With Thomas Chabot and Nick Paul returned from Ottawa there was some shuffling–Vaive was scratched and I think Lajoie was out because of injury, but I didn’t hear anything one way or another when I was catchign up on the game (I can’t imagine he’d be scratched in favour of Murray, but the possibility remains).

The Lines

Despite all the changes we know who the top left-winger is. Chlapik remained on the fourth line to start, but once the score got out of hand Kleinendorst was forced to play him more (Kelly slid down to make room for him). Poor Chabot–he’s spent a lot of time with Murray as his partner and that’s been a massive drag on his performance (I think Kleinendorst is afraid to put Jaros with him for defensive reasons, but Murray isn’t any better defensively in my opinion).

Special Teams
Chlapik-Reinhart-Gagne/Chabot-White (once)
Penalty Kill
McCormick-Rodewald/Englund-Jaros (scored on)

A few takeaways here: there actually was experimentation on the PK and Kleinendorst mostly kept Kelly off it (either through fears of conditioning–back-to-back games–or because he knows Kelly won’t be on the roster long). I’m not a big Tyler Randell fan, but if he can be an effective penalty killer and that comprises most of his ice time, it’s better than how he was being played. The stubbornness with how the team operates their PP is beyond the pale at this point (they now haven’t scored in four straight games, 0-13, and in fact only have PP goals in 8 of 21 games with the worst percentage in the entire AHL).

Notable Plays
Paul shoots the puck over the net on a 3-on-2 (first); Gagne hits the post late in the first; Perron misses the net on a breakaway (second)–goes high backhand; Englund threw a huge hit in the second which resulted in a fight (Randell was the fighter); McCormick can’t get a shot on goal on a partial breakaway (second); Chlapik sets up Rodewald down low but he fans on the shot (second); Paul set up White who gets pokechecked by the goaltender before he can shoot (second).

Player Notes
Murray: were it not for the hat-trick he scored I’d be arguing for him to go down to Brampton; he’s struggled defensively and just hasn’t been effective in distributing the puck (he’s a major drag on Chabot)
Lajoie: didn’t play much in his game back, but if healthy would be a huge help to the team (very good at short, safe passes)
Burgdoerfer: his panic threshold is not good–the turnovers against the Marlies, especially in the second game, were off the chart
Sieloff: did a lot of running around looking for hits the first game, but settled down to his usual self for the second
Jaros: not hugely noticeable; some struggles on the PK, but I’m not entirely convinced that’s all his fault
Englund: was his usual, steady self; threw one of the biggest hits of the season (ultimately had no impact on the game, but great for the highlight reels)
Chabot: really didn’t impact the game; he should add a lot to the PP, but the current unit he’s on isn’t conducive to scoring so his ability to skate and distribute the puck doesn’t go anywhere
Vaive: a classic “because he’s big” guy; he’s so slow and has no hands whatsoever–should be returned to the ECHL
Ciampini: given the limited ice time he was fine
Randell: no offensive tools whatsoever, which (for me) means the guy shouldn’t play; for a supposedly physical player he doesn’t exactly put the fear of god into the opposition
Kelly: looked like a 37-year version of himself; solid defensively, clueless offensively–didn’t really help the BSens and I have no idea what the org thinks it’s getting from him
Werek: despite being up in the lineup was largely invisible (not bad per se, but not generating much either)
Rodewald: I expect more from the guy, although it remains an odd decision to keep him away from Paul given how much chemistry the two had early in the season
Reinhart: did not gel at all with linemates in either game, despite all theoretically being decent offensive players–the problem is that all three are shooters, so they need a puck distributor
Perron: had a rough game one against the Marlies, but was much better in the second when he was moved away from Kelly as his center
Gagne: in the second game he was taken off the first line for the first time since Belleville’s 2-1 loss to Charlotte; like Perron he benefited from Kelly being removed as his center
White: still struggling to find his home with the team; on paper there’s some sense to having McCormick on his wing (in theory a guy who will drive the net), but Nick Paul was having his worst game of the year so it’s hard to judge what this line could do
Paul: I don’t know if it was the travel or something else, but this was Paul’s worst game of the year–turnovers and poor decisions abounded; not entirely sure why he wasn’t partnered back up with Rodewald
McCormick: given his ice time apparently the best player on the team; Kleinendorst is a smart guy, but he must be suffering from a severe case of observation bias because nothing reduces his ice time; despite playing so much in prime offensive positions he’s actually below his expected points-per-game and well off his normal goal scoring pace–he needs to be put in his proper checking role

It was fun watching the Marlies play, but definitely frustrating to see the conservative Belleville coaching staff trying to deal with them. I think they learned the wrong lesson from game one and by the time that was clear (when it was 4-0) it was far too late to do anything about it. What can we expect from the next game? It’s hard to say.

I haven’t mentioned that Marcus Hogberg seems to have found his game in Brampton. After the trip to Sweden he’s won 3 of 4 games and in the last two faced 95 shots and stopped 90 of them. While the team in front of him isn’t very good, he seems to have turned a corner. This, of course, puts Belleville’s wonky goaltending situation in a bigger tizzy as I’m not sure any of the constituent parts that you’d want to move (including in the NHL) are really movable.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Thoughts on How to Improve Belleville’s Lineup

While the BSens haven’t been awful this year, a .500 record (9-9-1) isn’t going to cut it, especially when they have yet to play the Marlies (.778 and representing a huge volume of games the BSens have to play). In my opinion, one of the ways to improve the team is player usage, so I’m going to go through how I’d put the lines and pairings together (excluding players currently in the NHL or injured) and then go into why. The recent PTO for Chris Kelly feels more like a move for Ottawa rather than Belleville, but I mention where I’d put him below. It’s worth noting that I don’t think Kleinendorst is willing to demote his favourites below the top two lines, but there’s no reason not to hope I’m wrong.

Has it happened this season? They were the second pp unit for the 7-1 loss against Utica; they scored the lone goal
The logic: Chlapik likes to carry the puck and both his wingers, while they can as well, don’t need to have it on their stick as much; both options tend to shoot more than pass, but not with the obsessiveness of an O’Brien; both options have great speed and good hands
Has it happened? No
The logic: White needs to carry the puck and is a shooter, while Perron only wants to pass, with both benefiting from Werek going to the net without the puck
Has it happened? PP combination in their 4-2 loss Rochester, 5-4 win over the Amerks, and 7-1 loss to Utica
All three shoot first, so this is more about the defensive qualities of McCormick and O’Brien than what Reinhart brings to the table, but he at least consists of an offensive option and is more useful up the lineup than on the fourth line
Has it happened? No
These are warm bodies; Ciampini can produce offense with limited playing time while the other two are simply better options than PTO Vaive; this is where Kelly would slot in, bumping Randell to the pressbox
Has it happened? PP duo in the 5-1 win over Hartford, 3-2 loss to Providence, 7-4 loss to Springfield, and 4-3 win over Manitoba
These two were fantastic as second until pp blueliners (the duo disrupted by Harpur’s return and then injuries); both can handle the puck and get the offense moving from the back end–Lajoie is excellent at setting up Jaros’ big shot
Has it happened? Yes, frequently on the pk and as a pairing
They add almost no offense whatsoever but, collectively, are safe defensively and play well together
Has it happened? Yes in both cases, with one an effective pk duo and the other a disaster
Defensively the double EE’s have been surprisingly effective, while with Murray it’s a defensive disaster–I include the latter because Kleinendorst is more than willing to play just five defensemen 5-on-5 so it’s a question of what he’d want with his sixth (someone for the PK or someone for the PP–although Murray has not been very effective on the powerplay)

It’s worthwhile to make some observations on key prospects and how they’ve played thus far this season (Key: sc=scoring chances, evp=even strength points, ppp=powerplay points, shpg=shots-per-game):

Filip Chlapik
October 8-1-4-5 (0.62) SC 12 EVP 3 PPP 2 SHPG 2.5 PP shifts PG 4.5
November 10-1-5-6 (0.6) SC 4 EVP 4 PPP 2 SHPG 1.3 PP shifts PG 3.5
Excellent speed
Capable of beating players one-on-one and good at entering the zone with possession; likes to hang on to the puck
On the rush he’s about 50-50 between shooting and passing, but inside the zone he likes to carry the puck around the zone and dish off to a defenseman, then swing out into the open; this latter strategy works well with good puckhandling blueliners, but not otherwise
Defensively he’s very good on the backcheck, while positionly he’s about average
You can see by his decline in shots-per-game and scoring chances how the change in his ice time has impacted him

Francis Perron
October 7-0-3-3 (0.42) SC 4 EVP 2 PPP 1 SHPG 1.28 PP shifts 1.42
November 10-2-5-7 (0.7) SC 5 EVP 6 PPP 1 SHPG 1.3 PP shifts 3.0
Average speed
Doesn’t try to beat players one-on-one that often, preferring to pass
On the rush he’ll pass unless there’s no other option
Likes to make cross-ice passes which can get him into trouble
Solid defensively when it comes to position and instincts

Gabriel Gagne
October 9-4-0-4 (0.44) SC 5 EVP 4 PPP 0 SHPG 2.66 PP shifts 0.85
November 10-4-1-5 (0.5) SC 13 EVP 3 PPP 2 SHPG 2.6 PP shifts 3.0
Great speed
Capable of beating players one-on-one, but doesn’t need to carry the puck; sometimes opts for the chip and chase
On the rush he’s about 60-40 between shooting and passing; he has a great shot
Defensively he’s about average
His massive swing in scoring chances is related to a big upswing in TOI and PP opportunities

Thomas Chabot
October 5-1-2-3 (0.6) SC 4 EVP 0 PPP 3 SHPG 3.4 PP shifts 6.2
November 7-1-3-4 (0.57) SC 1 EVP 2 PPP 2 SHPG 3.0 PP shifts 4.42
Excellent skater
Capable of beating players one-on-one and likes to carry the puck; generally passes on the rush
Defensively he’s quite good, albeit his infrequent PK appearances make him hard to judge there

Maxime Lajoie
Oct-Nov* 10-0-4-4 (0.4) SC 2 EVP 2 PPP 2 SHPG 1.0 PP shifts 4.0
*with just one game in November I combined the stats
Average speed
Doesn’t try to beat players one-on-one, preferring to move the puck
Prefers to set up shooters and works to make those passes the high percentage variety
Defensively he’s about average

Christian Jaros
October 8-1-4-5 (0.62) SC 5 EVP 3 PPP 2 SHPG 2.5 PP shifts 4.5
November 4-0-0-0 (0.0) SC 0 SHPG 1.0 PP shifts 2.75
Good speed
Can beat players one-on-one, but doesn’t attempt it as often as (say) Chabot
Has a great shot and uses it as much as he can
Defensively he’s solid 5-on-5, but just average on the PK
Can play physically but is careful in picking his spots

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 5 Charlotte 2

Last night the BSens finished their four-game season series against Charlotte and picked up their first win on the back of strong goaltending and timely scoring. Before I get into my observations, here are the basics (the box score):
Shots: 23-29
PP: 0-4
PK: 2-2
Goaltender: Chris Driedger started again because Colorado had recalled Andrew Hammond and Danny Taylor was still sick–he was excellent, although the team didn’t force him to bail them out as much as the night before (he made five key saves).

The Opposition
The only major change from the previous night was in net and veteran ‘tender Jeremy Smith continued his awful season with Charlotte.

The Goals
1. Englund steals the puck on the Checker breakout and Werek essentially bounces the puck in off Reinhart
2. Charlotte – wide open beats Driedger low far side from the slot (Werek late on the backcheck)
3. Ciampini goes shelf on a partial break after poking the puck passed the D at his own blueline
4. Werek finds O’Brien all alone in front who dekes the goalie and scores on the backhand (Jimothy was part of a line change the Checkers did not pick up on)
5. Driedger beaten high on the short side from the goal line (not a good goal)
6. Reinhart buries the pass from Werek on the 2-on-1
7. McCormick beats the empty net, giving him the team lead in empty net points

Scoring chances (12): Reinhart (3), Gagne (x2, pp), White, Rodewald, Sieloff, Ciampini, McCormick (pp), Englund, O’Brien

The Roster
The only change was Ciampini replacing the pylon known as Justin Vaive.

The Lines

Every line except the fourth was changed (Werek and Reinhart moved to the second, White to the third, Ciampini to the fourth); while the defense pairings were unchanged, Erkamps played exactly one shift (in the third when the score was 5-2).

Special Teams
Penalty Kill

This is only the second time this year that the BSens were shorthanded just twice (the other was their 3-2 OT win over Manitoba). If the powerplay combinations look like everything but the kitchen sink that’s not far off. In the third Kleinendorst was clearly experimenting, but nothing was working. The major problem was on the back end–Jordan Murray has had all kinds of problems quarterbacking powerplay units (no one seems to know what he’s going to do, including him it seems). Getting into the zone isn’t the issue when Murray isn’t in the unit, but that’s typically when McCormick and O’Brien are on the ice so the problems are inside the zone.

Notable Plays
Werek was speared in the first (undetected) and was doubled over in pain, but stayed in the game and seemed fine; Perron made a fantastic backhand aerial pass to White in the first that gave him a breakaway; in the second Jaros was in a big collision in the corner (offensive zone) and seemed momentarily stunned, but was no worse for wear subsequently; Randell continued his struggles versus empty nets as late in the second he was unable to handle a pass for what would have been a tap-in; Perron was in a lot of pain with a late third period shot-block (again, he stayed).

Player Notes
Erkamps: he played one shift, so what can I say?
Murray: in front of family and friends he was not good at all–indecisive and unproductive–he was wisely kept off the PK
Burgdoerfer: the turnovers continue–he runs into trouble overhandling the puck or simply panicking in the defensive zone
Englund: wasn’t a perfect game for him but he contributed to an offensive play and had his first genuine scoring chance since the team’s 5-1 win over Hartford
Sieloff: one of his better games, including his first scoring chance since scoring in Belleville’s 7-4 loss to Springfield
Jaros: still doesn’t seem 100%, but continues to gradually improve; I thought he was strong defensively
Dunn: didn’t play much, but no overt snafus
Randell: he’s now played 17 games without a point versus a goaltender–why is he dressing?
Ciampini: credit a guy for producing with limited ice time
Chlapik: seems to have lost some of his confidence–a mix of the wrong linemates and a lack of TOI aren’t helping
Perron: played very well, but he and Chlapik haven’t meshed as a unit (linemates 7 of the last 8 games)
White: speaking of guys who don’t gel with Chlapik, he was largely invisible after the first
Rodewald: despite playing a ton was not that noticeable
Reinhart: benefited tremendously from playing with Werek (nothing about his game was different, simply his linemates)
Werek: I’ve been saying for awhile that he was a bad fit on Chlapik’s wing and Kleinendorst finally gave up on the experiment (after 4 of the last 5 games) and it provided immediate results
Gagne: tonight was a good illustration that his production is inspite rather than because of his linemates; he was fine, but there’s so much more he could do
O’Brien: took a stick in the face in the third and scored a nice goal
McCormick: is playing far too much; dependable defensively, but Kleinendorst needs an intervention on he and Jimothy

A great win for the team, albeit things could have easily gone the other way as the BSens benefited from subpar goaltending. I mentioned a lot of lineup complaints and I’ll have a piece talking about what I would do if I was putting this group together.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Charlotte 4 Belleville 2

Yesterday the BSens lost their third straight game against the Checkers and, like their previous game against them, did so after getting an early lead. Notably the game had just one official and that is legendary AHL referee Terry Koharski (whose brother Don was a long time NHL official). Terry has never been good enough for the NHL and does things his own way in the AHL–this is nothing new and the BSens should have been well-aware, but as we’ll see below, they chose to ignore this reality. Before I get into further observations, here are the basics (and the box score):
Shots: 23-33
PP: 0-3
PK: 2-4
Goaltender: Chris Driedger earned his first start and was fantastic in goal (he had thirteen key saves); Andrew Hammond backed him up while Danny Taylor didn’t join the team on the trip due to illness (Marcus Hogberg remained with Brampton). Hammond’s subsequent call-up to Colorado will make the decision tonight an interesting one in goal.

The Opposition
Charlotte is a very talented team (10-7 may not seem to reflect that, but they are). After the quick two goals by Belleville they shut things down effectively and were it not for the goaltending this game could easily have been 6-2 or 7-2.

The Goals
1. Werek one-times a back-hand pass from Perron
2. 28-seconds later Reinhart scores from above the circle far side through a crowd
3. Charlotte PP – top-corner from the point through a crowd (tipped)
4. Charlotte PP – top of the circle scores high (looked like it ramped up Perron’s stick)
5. Charlotte – Erkamps turns it over and a quick pass to a wide open Checker beats Driedger
6. Charlotte EN – Jaros turns it over

Scoring chances (8): Werek (x3, pp), McCormick (x2, pp), Reinhart, Randall, Gagne

The Roster
Chabot was recalled to Ottawa, so Erkamps dressed; Ciampini was scratched in favour of Randell (who was injured the last two games, not simply a scratch–alas); Lajoie, who is now healthy, was sent down to Brampton. Why Justin Vaive was dressed is beyond me.

The Lines

Inexplicably the lines were never Tweeted out, but outside the roster moves they were unchanged (until McCormick was thrown out of the game, moving Rodewald up to the first line); Vaive was frequently replaced by Reinhart on the second line.

Special Teams
Power Play
Penalty Kill
Perron-White/Englund-Jaros (scored on)
Perron-Randell/Sieloff-Burgdoefer (scored on)

Werek’s PP appearance was due to McCormick being booted from the game; Randell on the PK again was unfortunate. As much as I like Perron I’m not sure why Kleinendorst is constantly throwing him on the PK.

Notable Plays
The most notable was McCormick getting a penalty and mouthing off to Koharski such that he earned himself an abuse of official penalty–I have no idea why anyone would bother saying anything to Koharski–keep your mouth shut and go to the box; one of McCormick’s scoring chances was on a partial breakaway; early in the second Randell had back-to-back glorious opportunities and couldn’t put the puck on net for either of them; Rodwald made a great rush in the second, but missed the net; Gagne’s chances was on a breakaway late in the second, but he was poked checked and only managed a dribbler on goal; Reinhart flubbed a backhand and missed an empty net in the third.

Player Notes
Erkamps: wears the goat horns for the winning goal against which is not a good look
Murray: not one of his better games, albeit not glaringly bad
Jaros: still getting readjusted after coming back from his concussion, but this was a better game than his last and he played more accordingly (he should have been on the first pp unit)
Englund: I made no notes for him so, largely invisible
Burgdoerfer: the turnover ratio for him is really high given his experience and he needs to be better (putting him on the first PP unit was a bizarre decision–he’d had 1 point in his last 7 games)
Sieloff: played well defensively
Vaive: lumbers around the ice with the impact of an awkward pylon
Dunn: seems to have given up his agitator role, but I don’t know what else he brings to the table
Randell: I don’t understand the coaching love affair with him; he can’t finish offensively and isn’t consistent enough defensively
Reinhart: him scoring is something of a bonus this season, so that’s a win; had no business on the first PP though so I’m glad Kleinendorst removed him
Chlapik: mixed results from him; I don’t think Werek on that line really works (as I’ve mentioned repeatedly)
Perron: pretty quiet game from him; the pass-first thing is occasionally frustrating
Werek: woke up a little in this game, although still doesn’t have much chemistry with his linemates (he’s a crash-the-net kind of player whereas both Chlapik and Perron want to move the puck around and set up a play)
Gagne: relatively quiet (given his linemates that’s not a surprise–he’s a shooter playing with other shooters)
O’Brien: Jimothy was in his quiet place tonight and accomplished nothing
McCormick: with the “A” on his sweater he can’t be getting himself kicked out of a game for nothing

The team got discombobulated the moment that Checkers scored their first goal and had no momentum afterwards. Some of that I put directly on Kleinendorst’s shoulders for stubbornly sticking with line combos (and players) who weren’t getting the job done. Looking at the lines for tonight we can see some proper adjustment, but we’ll have to see how that pays off.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 1 Utica 7

I caught this game on replay in the midst of my Punisher binge on Netflix (great show, incidentally). The only feed was the away stream and AHL Live was extra muddy from Utica. Before I get into my feelings, here are the basics (the box score):
Shots: 27-34
PP: 1-7 (included a lengthy 5-on-3)
PK: 3-6 (one of these was cancelled immediately off a faceoff violation)
Goaltender: Danny Taylor who was absolutely awful (he made just 4 key saves); Chris Driedger backed up and should have played at some point, but Kleinendorst refused to pull the veteran

The Goals
1. Utica PP – Taylor beat short side by a one-timer from the top of the circle
2. Utica – Taylor beat high from the top of the slot
3. Utica PP – Murray way out of position leaves the man wide open to bang in the rebound (not sure why Taylor wasn’t pulled after this)
4. Utica – one-timer from just inside the circle
5. Utica – scores on a breakaway
6. PP – Gagne off a nice pass from Chlapik (goes top shelf)
7. Utica – breakway (deke)
8. Utica PP – Sieloff gets puck watching leaving his man open to bang in the rebound

Scoring chances (11): McCormick (x4, pp, shx2), Gagne (x3, ppx2), White, Werek, Murray (pp), Reinhart (pp)

The Roster
Nick Paul and Ben Harpur joined Ottawa and were replaced by now-healthy Christian Jaros and Justin Vaive. Randell and Erkamps remained healthy scratches, Donaghey and Marcus Hogberg were in Brampton (the latter getting his first win and being a big part of it).

The Lines

Vaive barely played, but there wasn’t a regular fill-in for him; Jaros didn’t play much comparatively. Kleinendorst did a little juggling in the third once it was 5-0 (playing Chlapik, Gagne, and Perron more).

Special Teams
Gagne-Chlapik-Rodewald/Murray-Perron (scored)
Penalty Kill
McCormick-O’Brien/Englund-Sieloff (scored on)
McCormick-Rodewald/Englund-Murray (scored on)
White-Rodewald/Murray-Jaros (scored on)

This huge list is due both to experimentation as well as guys being in the penalty box (the BSens took a lot of dumb penalties). One of the notable trends, however, is less and less Burgdoerfer on special teams (he’s completely absent from the PP and little-used on the PK).

Notable Plays
Jaros made a great rush in the first; O’Brien missed the net on a breakaway (the first); Murray hit the post in the third; O’Brien deked out his teammates and then fanned on his shot leading to a partial breakaway the other way (third); former Leaf Sifers attacked Chlapik in the third (forced a fight)

Player Notes
Jaros: didn’t play as much as he normally would; beyond the rush mentioned above his other highlight was a great pass to McCormick in the first resulting in a scoring chance
Murray: doesn’t seem like a good fit on the PK and didn’t accomplish much outside of two shifts in the third (hitting the post and then a scoring chance on the PP)
Englund: had his cloak of invisibility on as I made zero notations for him
Burgdoerfer: not a pretty game for him with a lot of turnovers
Sieloff: took a dumb penalty that resulted in the second Utica goal; otherwise it was a pretty standard game for him
Chabot: carrying around Burgdoerfer doesn’t do his game any favours and I don’t think the current first PP arrangement suits him either–an unremarkable outing (his highlight was a great defensive play in the first)
Vaive: I want him sent back to the E, but that means Randell plays so I’m in a bind
Dunn: dressed in this game, but made no impact on it
Ciampini: see above
Reinhart: Kleinendorst needs to give up playing him with the first powerplay unit; it’s pretty apparently his lousy season in the DEL last year wasn’t a fluke
Perron: did not make much of an impact–seems at his best when paired with Gagne (although oddly I’m not sure those two with Chlapik works)
Werek: he’s now gone pointless in four games and, as I said last time, isn’t a great fit with Chlapik (his points have generally come from banging in rebounds from other shooters)
Chlapik: I’m not sure what it will take to consistently put him with the right players–much like Perron his production jumps with Gagne as they compliment one another; beyond his assist tonight he made a great defensive play late in the second
Rodewald: not his best game–I don’t think he fits well with White as his center (I’d rather see him with Chlapik)–but that wasn’t due to a lack of effort
White: I’m still not sure who the best wingers for him are, but more experimentation is needed
O’Brien: there’s far too much Jimothy in my life–despite 1 point in his last 4 games his minutes are still near the top of the forward heep
McCormick: on the one hand you want to credit him for all the scoring chances, but on the other he needs to finish some of them if he’s going to get all these opportunities–2 goals on the season at this point is not acceptable
Gagne: a funny thing–he’s played more and he’s produced more–I wish Kleinendorst would take the hint for all top prospects! He’s misplaced playing with two shooters (O’Brien and McCormick) however

My primary complaint in this game is leaving Danny Taylor in net–what for? He’s now been awful in three straight starts, that’s far too long for an experienced netminder. Maybe he needs a game in Brampton or to sit for Driedger a few times to get himself straightened out. That said, scoring one goal isn’t enough either, although I think much of that is down to player usage.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 6 Lehigh Valley 2

For a game with such a lopsided score this is one the BSens could have easily lost were it not for some spectacular goaltending. Before I get into my observations, here are the basics (the box score):
Shots: 35-46
PP: 1-1
PK: 3-3 (one abbreviated)
Goaltender: Andrew Hammond, who was fantastic (12 key saves); Danny Taylor backed-up while Chris Driedger was scratched and Marcus Hogberg backed-up in Brampton

The Opposition
One of the better teams in the league (9-4-2 coming in), the high flying Flyers dominated much of the game (particularly the second period), but struggling netminders (both played and gave up 3 goals each) along with Hammond’s play were too much to overcome. The team has a BSens’ connection as Phil Varone is on the roster.

The Goals
1. Harpur floats one through a crowd
2. Rodewald bangs in Harpur’s rebound
3. Gagne bangs in Burgdoerfer’s rebound
4. Lehigh – Sieloff passes to the wrong team and they score on the breakaway
5. Lehigh – Sieloff turns it over and the puck is deflected in
6. Gagne scores low, far side in tight
7. PP O’Brien bangs in Chabot’s rebound
8. White with the one-timer via Rodewald on a 2-on-1

Scoring chances (13): Gagne (x3), Rodewald (x2), O’Brien (x2), Harpur, White, Paul, Chlapik, Reinhart, Perron

The Roster
A lot of changes as nearly all players were returned from Ottawa–Rodewald, Paul, and Harpur. These additions meant the scratching of Erkamps (on the blueline), Randell (is this the beginning of him getting Stortini’d?), and the demotion of Donaghey to Brampton.

The Lines

The major changes are to the second and third lines; Harpur, who was averaging 28 minutes a night in his previous games, also played a ton, but looked much better.

Special Teams
McCormick-Paul-White/Chabot-O’Brien (scored)
Penalty Kill
There wasn’t a lot of special teams time, but the main impact on the lineup was Harpur’s presence, who reduced Englund’s time on the PK rotation.

Notable Plays
Chlapik missed the net trying to one-time a pass from Perron on a 2-on-1 in the third; Chabot hurt his hand when hit from behind in the same period, but seemed fine afterwards.

Player Notes
Murray: virtually invisible after getting a hat-trick in the previous game, but he didn’t play much
Burgdoerfer: only thing I noted was a turnover in the third
Englund: also largely invisible (as above I just noted a turnover, albeit in the first)
Sieloff: an ugly game for him as both goals against were directly off terrible turnovers he made
Chabot: picked up points and was generally good overall, albeit lost some ice time due to Harpur’s presence
Harpur: was much better than his previous tour with the team; while he remains lumbering he made much smarter decisions with the puck
Dunn: a non-factor
Ciampini: also invisible
Reinhart: the return of Paul and Rodewald radically cut his ice time and other than his scoring chance wasn’t a factor
Werek: third straight game without a point and doesn’t really mesh well on his current line
Perron: after exploding for three-points he was pretty quiet outside a flurry early in the third
Chlapik: third-line minutes aren’t helping, but when he was allowed to play he was a factor (had a very good third period)
Paul: despite Rodewald’s presence his struggles offensively continue
Rodewald: great game from him–the team has sorely missed him
White: quiet performance and I don’t think he functions that well on Paul’s wing
McCormick: he had three-assists so I’d call that a good night
O’Brien: I sound like a broken record, but he’s not a first-line center; the goal is welcome
Gagne: I was complaining earlier in the year how he needed to play more and we’re seeing the result of that happening (three goals in his last three games)

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Belleville 5 Rochester 4 (OT)

The rematch with the Amerks was an entertaining game to watch (I caught it after the fact). Before I get into my observations, here are the basics (the boxscore):
Shots: 40-23
PP: 0-3
PK: 2-3
Goaltender: Andrew Hammond, who struggled (he made 7 key saves); Chris Driedger backed up, while Danny Taylor was scratched.

The Opposition
Rochester played their backup who, like Hammond, was also guilty of some bad goals. The team was also without veteren blueliner Redmond who was replaced by former Binghamton flameout Conor Allen (who was -3 on the night). So all-in-all, it was a weaker team.

The Goals
1. Chabot one-timer from the dot
2. Rochester – 3-on-2 shoots and scores 5-hole
3. Rochester – odd man rush hits the post and neither Gagne nor Englund can tie-up the man in front who bangs in the loose puck
4. Rochester PP – great pass through the crease beats Hammond 5-hole
5. Murray’s point shot goes in 5-hole (this was originally given to McCormick)
6. Rochester – Hammond beat 5-hole
7. Murray from a terrible angle down low
8. Perron bangs in flubbed Reinhart shot in front
9. Murray tips in Perron’s flip pass

Scoring chances (12): McCormick (x3, pp), Murray (x3), Perron (x2), Chabot, O’Brien (pp), Werek, Ciampini

The Roster
All the injured players remained out and with ECHL callup Walters already returned (I’m not sure what the story behind that is); instead Cody Donaghey was dressed but sat on the bench the entire game (zero shifts).


This is the identical lineup and, as mentioned, Donaghey did not get a shift. Also of note, Werek took Perron’s spot on the second line early in the game (this helped the latter, not the former).

Special Teams
Penalty Kill
Perron-White/Murray-Englund (scored on)
Ciampini-Reinhart/Murray-Erkamps (once)

I’m not a big fan of the PP as currently configured–if McCormick and O’Brien are on the powerplay they should be on the second unit, but I don’t know what it will take to get Kleinendorst away from that (he gave up on Werek pretty quickly, but he knows the latter two from coaching them previously). Erkamps returns to the PK rotation, but really the combos are basically the same.

Notable Plays
Despite the huge volume of shots the BSens were guilty of missing open opportunities on numerous occasions (Reinhart in the first, O’Brien in the first and second, and Burgdoerfer and Chabot in the third). We also got the trademarked O’Brien OT maneuver from Burgdoerfer who pulled the puck out of the zone while having offensive pressure because reasons.

Player Notes
Erkamps: picked up his first point of the year and seemed more comfortable 5-on-5 than he has all season
Murray: a non-factor since being recalled from Brampton he exploded for a hat-trick (!); if he can in anyway start to consistently produce I’ll pat Randy Lee on the back for the signing–but one game isn’t quite enough for that
Englund: another day at the office for him
Sieloff: most notable play was taking a head shot from MacWilliams in the third; he’s lucky he was able to continue
Burgdoerfer: hasn’t had a point in five-games, is off the PK, but gets to play with Chabot–makes my head hurt a little
Chabot: pretty much back to form–not only did he get his first 5-on-5 point, but he was dominant and probably played 30 minutes on the night
Dunn: I know he played, but warranted no notations
Ciampini: invisible except for the play leading to the tying goal, so all things considered, that’s not bad
Randell: two of his teammates took nasty hits in the game and his response was… well he didn’t respond (nor did he do anything notable). He’s off the PK though, so that’s something
Werek: I mentioned earlier that he’d regress to the mean and that’s happening in a hurry (being off the PP doesn’t help), with just one assist in his last three games; he isn’t a good fit with Chlapik/White and I hope Kleinendorst doesn’t stick with that line
Reinhart: got off the schneid in the previous game and picked up another point, which is what he’s on the team to do
Perron: was demoted down the lineup, but scoring did wonders for his confidence (he was definitely struggling prior to that goal)
White: is a funny player in that he’s hugely impacted by who he plays with–not a great fit with Werek–my only note for him the entire game was a turnover late in the third
Chlapik: had his point streak broken, but not for a lack of trying–made a great steal in the offense zone in the third to set up Chabot who walked up main street but missed the net; he did the same for Burgdoerfer later in the period who also missed
Gagne: showed off great speed, but the most notable moment was a terrible fall into the end boards in the third (I think the Amerk D might have helped him on his way)–he looked shook up, but was fine and played in OT
O’Brien: a solid game for Jimothy as he picked up another point, but he’s badly misplaced as a top center
McCormick: his assist still has him slightly behind his expected ppg (6 instead of 7) and he’s far behind his goal-scoring pace from both previous seasons (he’s about on par with his rookie year), this despite an enormity of ice time including the top powerplay unit

The BSens did well to come back from a pair of two-goal deficits and bail out the goaltender who has stood tall for them all season. There are still issues on the powerplay, which has only scored in one of the last seven games–the hypodermic needle marked “veteran-I-know” that Kleinendorst uses so often is still an impediment, although spreading out talented prospects (like Gagne) throughout the lineup helps. I was happy to see Erkamps play regularly as it’s simply too much of a burden to play five-defensemen night after night (he might as well play on the PK as well, as the results have been fine when he has). The team definitely needs a different player on White’s line–possibly Gagne, or even someone like Reinhart who can let the other two figure out possession for him.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)