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)



  1. Love your bit about Kelly, well played! Really appreciate these, please keep up the great work!

  2. Absolutely infuriating lineup management, especially given the parent club’s clear need of the blue chippers to develop as soon as possible.

  3. […] Belleville 1, Toronto 2 (SO); Belleville 1, Toronto 5 […]

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