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.

Gagne-Chlapik-Rodewald
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
Perron-White-Werek
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
McCormick-Reinhart-O’Brien
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
Dunn-Ciampini-Randell
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
Lajoie-Jaros
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
Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
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
Englund-Erkamps/Murray
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)

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