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)



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