Belleville 4 Syracuse 3 (SO), Belleville 1 Charlotte 6

I’ve been sick this week so I’m a bit late in putting this out. Before I get into the games just an observation: with AHL mud-vision (aka AHL Live) it’s almost incredibly difficult to read the numbers on the BSens home jersey.

The home opener for Belleville was attended by Pierre Dorion and Randy Lee and this had an impact on the style of play for the BSens. Through nine road games the team wasn’t particularly physical and barely fought (and the game following this one returned to that pattern), but against Syracuse (the team they’d brawled against back on October 13th in a game that, outside of that, wasn’t particularly physical), the silliness was on full display, the chippy play resulting in two of their better defensemen getting hurt (Christians Jaros and Maxime Lajoie; also call-up Justin Vaive). Did the physicality play into the result of the game? No, but it certainly hurt the team in their game against Charlotte.

Before my observations here are the basics (the box score is here):
Shots: 20-26
PP: 1-8
PK: 2-4 (including one in OT)
Goaltender: Andrew Hammond (who made 4 key saves by my count); Danny Taylor backed-up and I think it’s pretty clear that he’s lost his #1 spot; both Chris Driedger and Marcus Hogberg were healthy and sat–one or both should be back in the ECHL sooner than later

The Opposition
The Crunch have a more talented roster, which includes ex-BSens Jason Akeson and Cory Conacher. Adam Erne was able to get many of the BSens off their game.

The Goals
1. Syracuse (PP) – Reinhart gets puck watching and leaves his man wide open for a cross-ice pass
2. Chlapik creates a turnover and Perron finishes off a nice pass from Gagne
3. Syracuse – Harpur pushes his man down and skates past his own goal, leaving a man open for the rebound
4. (PP) Lajoie shot gets to the line and Chlapik bangs it in
5. Syracuse (PP) O’Brien is asleep on the backcheck leaving a man wide-open for a tap-in
6. Pretty three-way passing play that Werek finishes off (starts with a Paul steal)
Shootout
Sexton and Chlapik are both stopped, but Gagne scores on a big slapper to win it

Scoring chances (11): White (x3, pp), Werek (x2), Chlapik (pp), Perron, Gagne, Lajoie, Paul, Randell; Reinhart hit the post in the third

The Roster
Blunden, Flanagan, and Chabot remained out with injuries; Ciampini was also out with an undisclosed injury; DiDomenico and Rodewald remained with Ottawa; Dunn and Erkamps were healthy scratches. Colin White played in his first game (I didn’t like his line, but liked him).

The Lines
Werek-Paul-O’Brien
McCormick-White-Sexton
Perron-Chlapik-Gagne
Vaive-Reinhart-Randell
Sieloff-Harpur
Englund-Jaros
Lajoie-Burgdoerfer

Vaive was hurt very early in the game, which understandably had little impact. Jaros was hurt in the second (from his reaction it looked like a concussion, but I’m no doctor), while I didn’t see Lajoie’s injury (there were a lot of dangerous hits in the game–yet another reason why that style of play is counterproductive). A hapless Harpur probably played 30 minutes.

Special Teams
Powerplay
White-Chlapik-Sexton/Lajoie-Burgdoerfer (scored)
Perron-Paul-Werek/Harpur-Jaros
Gagne-Paul-Werek/Harpur-Jaros
Perron-Paul-Gagne/Englund-O’Brien
Perron-Paul-Gagne/Harpur-O’Brien
White-Chlapik-Sexton/Harpur-Burgdoerfer
Perron-Chlapik-Gagne/Harpur-O’Brien
Perron-Paul-Gagne/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
4-on-4
White-Sexton/Lajoie-Burgdoerfer
Perron-Chlapik/Englund-Sieloff
Perron-Chlapik/Lajoie-Burgdoerfer
OT
Gagne-Chlapik/Harpur
Paul-O’Brien/Burgdoerfer
Penalty Kill
McCormick-Sexton/Harpur-Burgdoerfer
Paul-O’Brien/Harpur-Sieloff
McCormick-Sexton/Jaros-Burgdoerfer
Perron-Reinhart/Jaros-Burgdoerfer (scored on)
McCormick-White/Englund-Burgdoerfer
Perron-O’Brien/Sieloff-Jaros (scored on)
Paul-O’Brien/Englund-Sieloff
4-on-3 in OT
McCormick/Sieloff-Harpur
Sexton/Sieloff-Harpur

The injuries made for varied combinations, although the struggles on the powerplay also caused experimentation. The main PP drag was Harpur, who looked clueless all night.

Play of Note
The Harpur boondoggles were many tonight and verged on the comical, but my favourite was in OT when he went full Jim O’Brien and, with the offensive pressure on, skated out of his own zone to…throw the puck away and make a change.

Normally I’ve done player assessment for each game, but I’ll do one for both at the bottom to keep this a bit more condensed and less cluttered.

Between games the BSens signed Werek to an AHL-deal. Given the relative lack of forward depth I don’t hate the move, but he’s yet another impediment to playing prospects more.

Friday’s game against a talented Charlotte lineup was a straight-up spanking (the most lopsided loss of the year). The BSens spent most of their time running around in their own zone and fell behind early due to questionable goaltending, but before my specific observations here are the basics (the box score is here):
Shots: 29-40
PP: 0-2*
PK 4-4
AHL website has just 1 PP for the team, but there were 2
Goaltenders: Taylor got the start, but struggled (2 key saves) and was eventually replaced by Hammond who was excellent in the third (6 big saves); I’ve seen enough of Taylor now to know that, at least this season, he’s struggling a lot with his general positioning, particularly high glove side; both Driedger and Hogberg sat in the pressbox.

The Opposition
The Checkers are the highest scoring team in the AHL and the score could have been much higher if they’d kept the peddle to the metal. The only BSens connection on the roster is Zack Stortini, who was the healthy scratch he always should be.

The Goals
1. Charlotte – a bad goal as a point shot floats in far side
2. Charlotte – Englund caught puck-watching, leaving his man alone in front to bang in a pass from behind the net
3. Charlotte – breakaway goal off a bad change
4. Chlapik deflects a pass in front of the net that gets poked in by O’Brien
5. Charlotte – White goes for the puck and misses, leaving his man open in front to bang in the puck (some criticism for Sexton as well, who didn’t switch checks to tie up the only man in front)
6. Charlotte – Taylor gives it away behind the net and can’t get functionally back in the net
7. Charlotte – bangs in a rebound

Scoring chances (8): White (x3, pp), Ciampini (x2), O’Brien, McCormick, Sexton

The Roster
Jaros, Lajoie, and Vaive joined Blunden and Flanagan on the injured side; Harpur was recalled to Ottawa; both Chabot and Ciampini returned to the lineup, as did Erkamps and Murray. Dunn remained a healthy scratch.

Lines
McCormick-White-Sexton
Werek-Paul-O’Brien
Perron-Chlapik-Gagne
Ciampini-Reinhart-Randell
Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Chabot-Murray
Englund-Erkamps

Despite the score Kleinendorst did not change things up much at all and while you’d expect the hot line (the third line) to play more…nope, they didn’t. On defense Erkamps was used sparingly which, in a game like this, seems pointless.

Special Teams
Powerplay
McCormick-Paul-Sexton/Chabot-Chlapik
Werek-White-O’Brien/Murray-Burgdoerfer
White-Paul-Sexton/Chabot-Chlapik
McCormick-O’Brien-Werek/Murray-Burgdoerfer
Penalty Kill
Paul-O’Brien/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Paul-O’Brien/Sieloff-Englund
McCormick-Sexton/Englund-Murray
McCormick-Sexton/Chabot-Murray
McCormick-White/Chabot-Murray
Ciampini-Randell/Chabot-Murray
Perron-O’Brien/Englund-Erkamps

The whistles were largely away for this one. What puzzles me here is that after infrequent attempts in the Syracuse game, Kleinendorst took both Perron and Gagne off the powerplay, despite better production than some of his favourites. I do think having forwards play the point at this stage makes some sense. On the PK I was surprised not to see Erkamps as a regular part of the rotation (as he was in the October 13th game against Syracuse)–why not play him where he can function when the defense is so depleted? The counter argument would be that they didn’t give up a powerplay goal.

Notable Play
Not much to look at here (it was not a particularly engaging game), but there was a great rush by Chlapik late in the first that sadly lead to nothing.

Player Notes (for both games)
Erkamps: looked pretty lost in the game against Charlotte, but didn’t play a whole lot
Murray: when he’d played previously he played a lot–Kleinendorst was a more conservative with him, but he didn’t do anything significant (not sure why he was on the PK)
Englund: normal games from him; fought Adam Erne when he hurt Vaive, which didn’t deter Erne from being a pest
Harpur: was awful in the Syracuse game–no idea what to do with the puck, but Kleinendorst kept putting him on the ice
Sieloff: didn’t stand out positively or negatively–his usual standard of play
Burgdoerfer: usual mix of positives and negatives (his turnover ratio is pretty high for someone with this much experience); the BSens broadcast crew love him
Chabot: the rust was very apparent against Charlotte, as his impact was as minimal as I’ve seen it
Lajoie: I think he should play more, albeit that’s not easy when you’re injured; before he was hurt continued to make intelligent plays with the puck
Jaros: I felt the pain seeing him leave the ice for the dressing room; he does so much for the team, albeit there have been some struggles on the PK
Randell: wasn’t that involved in the chippy game in Syracuse where he’s supposed to protect the important players on his team, but managed to take a dumb penalty against the Checkers–utterly useless (although the Belleville broadcast team can’t help but pump his tires)
Reinhart: not only is he in the dog house, but he looks miserable whenever the camera focuses in on him; very Jekyll and Hyde (hits the post late in the third against Syracuse, whereas in the first his lazy D is part of the first goal against)
Vaive: for the minute or so he played he was just as useless as he was the previous games
Ciampini: I’ve warmed to him–he’s pretty consistent in getting scoring chances in limited duty–more of a shooter than passer though
Gagne: what’s it going to take to get him permanently on the powerplay rotation? I’m lost on Kleinendorst’s hesitation
Perron: see the above; clearly there’s trust issues for the coach
Chlapik: it’s a puzzle: when he was making plays and not getting results at the start of the season, he played a ton–now that he’s getting results, he’s playing less
White
: plenty of jump in his game and he had the most scoring chances in both games, but I think he’s hampered by teammates he’s not gelling with (McCormick in particular)
McCormick: the guy who gives the coach and Randy Lee wet dreams, he’s still playing way too much and in scoring roles that aren’t suited to him
O’Brien: a coach K crush–he’d been kept off the powerplay earlier in the season, but now we’re seeing him there as well; he made a nice pass for the Werek goal in the Syracuse game and cleaned up the garbage for Chlapik in Charlotte, but this isn’t a sign of offensive prowess, just a result of playing a ridiculous amount
Werek: basically invisible, but he did score once, so there’s that
Sexton: speaking of invisible, not much action from Sexton, who doesn’t seem to function well with White (put him with Paul or back with Chlapik perhaps?)
Paul: still misses Rodewald and while his work on the PK has been fine his offensive game has largely disappeared (the exception is the play leading to the Werek goal)

I wasn’t particularly happy with either game–the chippy one against Syracuse, despite the win, ultimately hurt the team–while the second was a direct result of both the player losses due to injury and recalls. Kleinendorst continues to frustrate in his reluctance to trust most of the younger players such that middling veterans get far more ice time than makes any sense. Signing players like O’Brien and Werek just gives him more excuses to hesitate in trusting younger ones. That said, he showed the same tendency last season and overcame it, so there’s a reason to hope. On the goaltending side the alarm bells are ringing for Danny Taylor–the team also needs to find a place for Driedger to play.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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1 Comment

  1. […] Belleville 4 Syracuse 3 (SO), Belleville 1 Charlotte 6 […]


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