Belleville 4, Binghamton 3; Belleville 2 Rochester 4

Another two-for-one post from me, with thoughts chronologically, so the Binghamton game first. It wasn’t a particularly emotional game for the teams involved, but for long time BSens fans it had a little extra zest, as Binghamton had been the stomping grounds for Ottawa’s prospects for so long. Before I get into my observations, here are the basics (the box score):
Shots: 28-28
PP: 0-4 (running their total to 0-19 over five games)
PK: 4-5
Goaltender: Andrew Hammond, who was solid if not quite spectacular (I had him making 5 key saves); Danny Taylor backed up while Chris Driedger sat in the pressbox (he’d be sent to Brampton the following day)

The Opposition
Bingo came in with a strong lineup (5-3-1), but their game was hampered by bad goaltending from Ken Appleby who gave up four goals in sixteen shots before being relieved.

The Goals
1. O’Brien scores shortside from a bad angle
2. Binghamton PP – just a great passing play
3. McCormick bangs in a rebound
4. White scores off a great bank-pass by Chlapik with the Devils goalie down and out
5. Dunn centers the puck and O’Brien cleans up the play
6. Binghamton – bounces the puck in off Chabot
7. Binghamton – bang in a rebound (Chabot a bit soft on the back check)

Scoring chances (8): O’Brien (x4), White (x2), McCormick, Dunn

The Roster
Lajoie, Jaros, Blunden, Vaive, and Flanagan still out with injury; Sexton was a surprise scratch (also injured); Paul, Hogberg, Rodewald, and DiDomenico remain in Ottawa (given his production I think the odds of the latter ever returning are virtually zero now); Donaghey remained the lone Senator in Brampton.

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

The defense pairings are unchanged from the previous game, but the forward groups are scrambled with Gagne moving off the third line for the first time this year.

Special Teams
Powerplay
McCormick-Reinhart-White/Chabot-Werek
McCormick-Reinhart-White/Murray-Burgdoerfer
Gagne-Chlapik-Perron/Murray-Burgdoerfer
Penalty Kill
McCormick-White/Englund-Sieloff (scored on) – Murray had switched on for Sieloff
Perron-O’Brien/Englund-Burgdoerfer
McCormick-White/Englund-Burgdoerfer
Perron-O’Brien/Murray-Erkamps
McCormick-O’Brien/Englund-Sieloff
Perron-White/Englund-Sieloff
McCormick-O’Brien/Chabot-Burgdoerfer
Perron-White/Englund-Burgdoerfer

Keeping Chlapik off the top powerplay unit remains bizarre to me, but Kleinendorst has been trying to stick to his combinations more throughout games hoping for it to work. Despite all the seeming variety on the PK the defense units were quite stable and the forward personal remained steady as well, just the combos varied.

Notable Plays
Chabot made a nice rush in the first–getting the puck in front to Werek, but he missed the net. Later that period Perron had a great chance but couldn’t get the shot off (something that’s happened to him fairly frequently this season). Speaking of Perron, he went offside on a 2-on-1 vs an empty net.

The game against Rochester saw the exact same lineup–the BSens called up Ryan Walters (no relation to the former NHLer) from ECHL Utah, but he was unable to get there in time. Unlike previous call-up Justin Vaive, Walters is a very productive ECHLer (0.92 PPG) who briefly played in the Belarussian league to start the year. Before my observations, here are the basics (the box score):
Shots: 40-30
PP: 2-6 (one brief)
PK: 5-5 (including a two minute 5-on-3)
Goaltender: Taylor got the start and his struggles continued (he made 7 key saves); Hammond backed up while Driedger played (and won) his game with Brampton.

The Opposition
The Amerks are a veteran team and (on-paper) better than the BSens (arriving with a 6-4-1 record). The team has a couple of productive rookies to go along with solid goaltending.

The Goals
1. Rochester – White turns it over in the neutral zone leading to a breakaway
2. PP Reinhart bangs in a shot from the point
3. Rochester – screened shot from a bad angle is deflected in
4. Rochester – Sieloff gets undressed and Taylor is beat on a bad angle
5. Rochester SH – Perron turnover leads to a breakaway
6. PP Gagne bangs in Chlapik’s rebound

Scoring chances (11): Reinhart (x4, pp), Gagne (x2, pp), O’Brien (x2), Perron, Burgdoerfer (pp), Erkamps

The Roster
No changes from the previous game, although it was clearly intended that Walter would be the twelfth forward.

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

These are the same lines as the previous game. Of note, besides taking an awful penalty in the third, Randell was basically invisible and part of that was him playing less, so that made me happy.

Special Teams
Powerplay
McCormick-Reinhart-O’Brien/Chabot-White (scored)
Gagne-Chlapik-Perron/Murray-Burgdoerfer (scored)
Penalty Kill
McCormick-O’Brien/Englund-Sieloff
Perron-White/Englund-Burgdoerfer
McCormick/Englund-Sieloff
White/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer

This is the least amount of variation this season (given a reasonable number of opportunities). The second unit is what used to be the third line although, again, I have to wonder why Chlapik is getting second unit time.

Notable Plays
Both Chabot and White hit the post (both in the second period, the latter on the powerplay). Chlapik had a couple of nice rushes (one in the first and one in the third), but neither resulted in shots (Gagne did the same thing in the second). He (Chlapik) did set-up Werek nicely in the second, but he shot the puck over the net from in close. McCormick missed the net on a 2-on-1 shorthanded in the second. Taylor almost repeated his mistake of mishandling the puck behind the net and getting scored on in the third (something he did in the 6-1 loss to Charlotte).

Player Notes
Erkamps: had what I believe is his first scoring chance of the season; seems largely removed from the PK but over the two games was adequate 5-on-5 (no notable snafus)
Murray: only negative notations from me (including a couple of turnovers and a bad penalty against Binghamton); did pick up an assist
Burgdoerfer: has had his PK time cut and on the whole made little impact in either game (without Lajoie or Chabot setting him up he’s virtually invisible on the PP)
Sieloff: played a ton, mostly within expectations (wasn’t as good against Rochester)
Englund: sometimes played entire PK shifts; mostly solid play, albeit late in the third against Binghamton he passed to the wrong team and Hammond had to bail him out
Chabot: clearly still recovering, but was starting to look like himself against Rochester–when he’s 100% he’ll go back to dominating; leads the team in PP points
Dunn: picked up a rare point against Binghamton, but returned to invisibility against Rochester (where he engaged in a pointless fight in the third)
Randell: removed from special teams and, with Kleinendorst rotating four lines, has seen his minutes cut; only notable moment was creating a 5-on-3 against by attempting to draw the Amerks into an off-setting penalty and failing
Ciampini: while he’s had some decent games this season he qualified for zero notations through both games (generous of me as he had a couple of turnovers that his teammates immediately bailed him out on)
Perron: I think there are some confidence issues going on for him as he made some uncharacteristic flubs in both games
Werek: had his opportunities, but struggled to get the puck on goal in both games
Reinhart: after 8-straight games without a point picked up his second goal of the season and also had a lot of quality chances–maybe this will be a lightbulb moment for him
White: has looked better and better with each game; definitely a shoot-first player at this level and his game has gone up a notch playing with Chlapik
Chlapik: taken off the top PP unit, but managed to get points in both games; fantastic hands and plays hard at both ends of the ice; took a nasty high hit late in the game against Rochester, but seemed alright afterwards
McCormick: after playing an absurd amount on the powerplay he picked up his first PP point against Rochester; the goal against Binghamton is nice, but he’s still playing way too much in an offensive role
O’Brien: had his first two-goal game since March of 2016 (that’s more than a full-season ago); as a first-line center he’s getting opportunities, but he’s not a puck-distributor nor possession driver, so ultimately I think it’s counter productive
Gagne: finally getting shifts on the PP unit, albeit the second, and picked up a goal in that capacity vs Rochester; he’s looked much more confident of late and his skating has definitely improved; I’ve come to like him a lot and the fact Kleinendorst has put him on the first line suggests he has his coaches confidence as well

While TOI is, in some respects, getting sorted out 5-on-5, I still think there are tweaks needed on special teams. The primary problem for the team in their loss was, however, goaltending. Maybe we’ll see Driedger get a start instead of Taylor (who has already lost the starting job to Hammond), but time will tell.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Advertisement

Belleville Senators News

Ottawa Senators Official NHL Headshots

With the big trade for Matt Duchene normally I’d be the one kicking and screaming about losing a high end prospect (Shane Bowers) and picks (a 1st and a 3rd). In this case, at least with the prospect, I’m content. I wasn’t a big fan of the selection, who I thought was an uninspired pick with a low ceiling (time will tell, of course). I do miss the picks, but the org has always been very free in dolling them out, so it’s to be expected. The most interesting decision involves Andrew Hammond, where Pierre Dorion pulled the reverse of what Toronto did in the Dion Phaneuf trade (when Matt Frattin was included, but just his salary, as Ottawa loaned him back to the Marlies immediately). Initially I’d thought the team was making room for it’s two prospects (Hogberg and Driedger), but now I think it’s more likely that the Swede is going to be loaned back to Linkoping or elsewhere in the SHL, while Driedger goes down to Brampton (unless they trade Danny Taylor–a savvy move in my opinion, assuming he can be moved).

For the NHL side of the deal I suggest reading Nichols, whose opinions are largely my own–the Sens are merely buying another season (perhaps) of Cup relevance before their aging lineup starts to drag them down.

travisyost

Noted comic book fan Travis Yost looks at something Micah Blake McCurdy studied back in 2014, which is how long does it take for a team’s performance to settle to show what they truly are? McCurdy felt that 25 games was the point of no return, whereas Travis is roughly at 30. These are worth keeping in mind when it comes to early returns for every team.

belleville sens

For those who missed it I did a very crunchy breakdown of the BSens month of September (here and here). Right now the team is in the midst of injury troubles on the blueline and a coach struggling to find the right forward combinations (Kleinendorst suffers from a very common coaching affliction, which is an over dedication to veterans and perceived “safe” players).

The team is near the veteran contract limit: Danny Taylor, Andrew Hammond, Mike Blunden, and Max Reinhart quality (Chris DiDomenico‘s Italian league games don’t seem to count, while Tyler Randell was two games under the limit when signed). Both Jim O’Brien and Ethan Werek qualify as veterans, but the Sens seemingly have dodged the limit by signing them to AHL-deals. The PTO rules, incidentally, are pretty loose, as each such contract covers 25 games played and a player can go through two of those before the team has to make a decision (so through two-thirds of the season).

As a note, the rules to be considered a rookie if you are European are a bit wonky:
-cut off is 26th birthday by Sept.15th
-less than 100 European Elite League games
The latter is part of the reason you don’t see a lot of European pros come to the AHL

Like many cities after the fact, some in Belleville are concerned about the deal that was struck to bring the AHL franchise to the city:

“I felt the deal struck with Melnyk wasn’t the best deal available to the city,” Sandison said. “Now, we own nothing and we loaned Melynk $6.5 million USD. I believe the negotiating team exercised poor judgement and made a deal that shouldn’t have been made.”

Coun. Paul Carr said he relied on the recommendation made by the negotiating team which included Mayor Taso Christopher and city director Mark Fluhrer. “Those negotiations were proceeding and there were some positive elements to it, but that deal fell through,” Carr said.

“At that point, there was no firm endorsement required,” said Carr, “That deal never got to the point where it was a take it or leave it. The first one never got to a point where we had to make a final decision because the party [Grant Kook’s Westcap Management Ltd] backed out.”

There’s no going back for Belleville at this point, as they’ve given the Sens the arena rent-free for three years, but it’s yet another indication that public funding for sports teams is virtually never a winning formula for tax payers.

freeagent

Overage CHLer Max Fortier was signed by Columbus. He was expected to be drafted in both 2016 and this year, but his size (5’10) proved too much of an impediment.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 1 Charlotte 2

With the trade of Andrew Hammond the logjam in goal isn’t what it was, but I’ll discuss that in detail elsewhere. On Saturday the BSens had their re-match with the talented Checkers and ultimately the game was won by the better team (it’s very reminiscent of the 3-2 shootout loss to Providence–blowing a lead late by a team that badly out-shot them). Before I get into my observations, here are the basics (box score):
Shots: 22-35
PP: 0-3
PK: 3-4
Goaltender: Hammond who was excellent (9 key saves); Danny Taylor backed up–soon to be the starter again given the trade; both Chris Driedger and Marcus Hogberg were scratched

The Opposition
Unchanged other than the goaltender; Stortini remained scratched, which was appropriate

The Goals
1. Werek tips in a high flip pass from White
2. Charlotte (PP) – soft goal from Hammond up high on a tough angle
3. Charlotte – Chabot baubles the puck at the blueline leading to a breakaway that scores five-hole on a deke

Scoring chances (7): O’Brien (x2, sh), Chlapik (x2, pp), Werek, White, Gagne (pp), Murray hit the post

The Roster
Blunden, Flanagan, Jaros, Lajoie, and Vaive remained out with injuries and Dunn as a healthy scratch–that is to say, the lineup was unchanged other than the goaltender.

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

The top two lines changed, with Sexton joining O’Brien and Paul, and Werek joining McCormick and White (neither change had a positive impact). The defense pairs were scrambled and I’m not entirely clear why–my guess is that the changes were largely in an attempt to help Chabot, but it did not work.

Special Teams
Powerplay
Paul-White-Sexton/Chabot-Perron
Reinhart-Chlapik-Gagne/Murray-Burgdoerfer
Penalty Kill
McCormick-Sexton/Sieloff-Englund
McCormick-Sexton/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Paul-O’Brien/Murray-Erkamps
McCormick-White/Sieloff-Englund
Paul-Sexton/Chabot-Englund
Paul-Sexton/Murray-Burgdoerfer (scored on)
White-O’Brien/Englund-Murray

Taking Chlapik off the top PP unit was an odd choice, but it’s been apparent for the last several games that Kleinendorst has no idea what to do with the man advantage and is trying anything to get it going (the team is 0-15 the last four games).

Notable Plays
I got a sense of why Randy Lee was so eager to sign Jordan Murray at last, as the blueliner threw a couple of big hits in the game (there wasn’t much physicality in the game overall); Chlapik made a great end-to-end rush on the powerplay in the third which was followed up by him giving Murray a great opportunity (he hit the post); with the net empty both White and Murray made saves as Charlotte failed to score on three attempts.

Player Notes
Erkamps: played more five-on-five than has been typical; a mixed bag (my primary note was a turnover in the third)
Murray: outside the post he hit on the PP was most notable for a couple of turnovers and a big hit
Englund: his usual self–didn’t earn a positive or negative notation
Chabot: is still nowhere near as good as he was prior to the injury, although having no support doesn’t make it any easier
Burgdoerfer: usual mixed bag–notable turnover (something routine for him) along with a good defensive play
Sieloff: solid defensively and picked up a rare assist
Randell: played in this game–who knows why?
Reinhart: his two points this season came in the same game–it’s getting bleak for the veteran who is supposed to score
Ciampini: not a great game for him–turnovers in the first and nothing accomplish offensively
Gagne: finally got a regular rotation on the powerplay, but still gets limited usage given his production
Perron: see above–I’m not sure what it’s going to take for Kleinendorst to let their line play more
Chlapik: as the BSens production has gone down the drain the Czech rookie has played less–go figure
McCormick: solid on the PK and thankfully removed from the PP (a first), but essentially a non-factor
White: still hasn’t gelled with linemates, but on his own remains a threat
Werek: scored a goal, so still the best–right?
Paul: has that cloak of invisibility on–since Rodewald’s recall he’s been struggling offensively
O’Brien: thankfully off the powerplay, but still plays way, way, way too much
Sexton: another player looking for a good fit–no scoring chances in two straight games

Some of the problems confronting the BSens are simply a matter of talent–the lack of puck-movers from the blueline given the injuries. The forward lines need work–I like the third line, but it should be playing more, and the players currently in the top-six are not a good mix and need to be shifted around. I’d staple O’Brien and McCormick to the third line where they belong, but it’s unrealistic for me to expect Kleinendorst to do that (at least with both).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

 

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)

Belleville Senators: Assessing the Players

My previous post was largely about the team, so here I’ll break down players as best I can (I looked at goalies in that post, so I’ve skipped them here–I’ve tried not to duplicate material from the previous article).

Before we get to the individual breakdowns, the leaderboard in a couple of categories:
Points-Per-Game
DiDomenico 1.25
Werek 1.00
Rodewald 0.80
Chlapik/Jaros 0.63
Chabot 0.60

Shots-Per-Game
Chabot 3.4
Gagne 2.66
DiDomenico/Chlapik/Jaros/Sexton 2.5
O’Brien 2.22
Rodewald 2.2
Werek 2.16

Players below are arranged by points-per-game. Acronyms: PPP=powerplay points, SHP= shorthanded points, ENP=empty-net points, SHPG= shots per game, vet=veteran contract status; career=PPG before this season

Chris DiDomenico 28, C/RW 4-3-2-5 1.25 PPP 2 ENP 1 SHPG 2.5
Contract: 17-18; 8th pro season; career 0.22; last season 0.79 (NLA)
Currently in Ottawa where 5 points in 5 games means he’s not likely to return any time soon. The diminutive former Toronto draft pick (6-164/07) was a star in the Q who also played for the WJC team (John Tavares/Cody Hodgson era); dumped to Chicago before ever suiting up for the Leafs, he failed out of the Hawks org and went to reestablish himself in Europe. Signed to a phantom two-year deal last season it was an open question whether he’d be able to translate junior/European production at this level–the short returns have certainly been good, although he wasn’t a dominant player in limited action with Belleville.

Ethan Werek 26, C/LW 6-3-3-6 1.00 PPP 2 ENP 1 SHPG 2.16
Contract: PTO; 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 provide the kind of return that’s particularly enticing (now that he has veteran status it’s likely he’ll jump to Europe sooner than later). He took part in both Ottawa and Belleville’s training camps, but was cut and signed with Brampton. Recalled on a PTO without ever suiting up in the E, he’s off to a hot start, albeit already regressing to the mean. Will the BSens bite the bullet and sign him? I’m not sure, as Kleinendorst hasn’t embraced him in the way he did O’Brien (see below).

Jack Rodewald 23, RW 5-3-1-4 0.80 SHPG 2.2
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 bring him up to Ottawa. He’s a solid AHL-player; good speed, versatile on special teams, and so forth. What remains to be seen is what his offensive potential is.

Filip Chlapik 20, C/LW 8-1-4-5 0.63 PPP 2 SHPG 2.5
Contract: 19-20; rookie; last season 1.59 (QMJHL)
The big question for the big Czech was how dependent was he on Pittsburgh pick Daniel Sprong while in the Q? I think he’d reasonably answered that while the Dutch player wasn’t playing, but what I’ve seen in his start is promising. I don’t think he’ll be quite as productive as Sprong, but he’s a very good player–great speed, good hands, excellent hockey IQ. A bit iffy defensively at times, but that’s not down to effort.

Christian Jaros 21, DR 8-1-4-5 0.63 PPP 2 SHPG 2.5
Contract: 19-20; rookie; last season 0.36 (SHL)
My concern with the Slovakian blueliner were his hands–could he move the puck, could he handle the speed? While he doesn’t have Chabot’s silky moves he’s much, much better than I expected. Has a cannon of a shot, good hands, and much better speed than expected (all the comparisons to Borowiecki put a very different image in my head). He’s also been much smarter about when to throw hits than I expected–doesn’t run around head-hunting–just takes what’s available.

Thomas Chabot 20, DL 5-1-2-3 0.60 PPP 3 SHPG 3.4
Contract: 19-20; rookie; last season 1.32 (QMJHL)
The hype was high for him and for once it’s well-deserved. Utterly dominant when fully healthy at this level and he can do things with the puck that most can’t. It’s always harder to write about extremely talented prospects–enjoy?

Nick Paul 22, C/LW 8-0-4-4 0.50 PPP 1 SHPG 2.0
Contract: 17-18; 3rd pro season; career 0.46; last season 0.51
A Dallas pick (4-101/13) that came over in the otherwise disastrous Jason Spezza trade. He subsequently played on the WJC (without making much impact) and then struggled in his rookie season with Binghamton. Paul is big, rangy, good at both ends of the ice, and can beat players one-on-one, but struggles to function without a possession-heavy winger. He and Rodewald were a very good pair, but since the latter’s call-up Paul has looked a bit lost.

Ben Sexton 26, RW 4-2-0-2 0.50 SHPG 2.5
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 and while I was skeptical when I saw that in limited duty he’s actually been quite effective. Good speed, good hands, good shot–not sure what his issues in Providence were (usage?), but while I don’t think he’s going to set the AHL on fire he’s been a solid addition.

Erik Burgdoerfer 28, DR 9-2-2-4 0.44 PPP 2 SHPG 1.66
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. I’ve been pretty critical of this signing, largely because he’s a veteran whose numbers have never been remarkable. After watching him for 9 games, he’s pretty much as expected–underwhelming offensively, solid defensively. He’s a fairly safe player who generally isn’t going to hurt you, but he’s not going to win you a game either.

Gabriel Gagne 20, C/LW 9-4-0-4 0.44 SHPG 2.66
Contract: 18-19; 2nd pro season; last season 0.14
After last season I think some fans were understandably wondering if he was already a failed pick. Not only did he fail in the AHL, he didn’t accomplish much in the ECHL either. Gangly and awkward looking on the ice, he barely played to start the season and has seen virtually no powerplay time. That said, he has a rocket of a shot and it’s becoming apparent that if he’s paired with someone who can move the puck he can be effective.

Daniel Ciampini 26, LW 7-1-2-3 0.43 SHPG 0.85
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. He’s never been able to translate his tier-2 offense at this level, but on the whole he’s been a positive contributor in limited time.

Max McCormick 25, LW 7-1-2-3 0.43 SHP 1 ENP 1 SHPG 2.14
Contract: 17-18; 4th pro season; career 0.42; last season 0.54
I’m often put in the position of criticising McCormick, but none of the things I’m critical of are his fault–my issue with him is his usage–coaches (from Kleinendorst to Luke Richardson) keep pushing him into a scoring role he’s just not suited too. He has a good shot–his AHL numbers illustrate that–but he’s not a possession player and too many times on the powerplay he’s a detriment. So: I like him, he’s a great third-line player who kills penalties–that’s just how I want him used. Even on the penalty kill he’s being over used (among the regular PK forwards he has the worst shifts-to-goals ratio).

Francis Perron 21, C/LW 7-0-3-3 0.43 PPP 1 ENP 1 SHPG 1.28
Contract: 18-19; 2nd pro season; last season 0.38
One of the primary issues for the former QMJHL start is his TOI and linemates, but we might finally be turning the corner on that. Offensively gifted, I don’t know what his AHL-ceiling is, but we can’t find out unless he’s consistently paired with complimentary players and that’s just not been the case this season. Definitely a pass-first player.

Jim O’Brien 28, C/RW 9-1-2-3 0.33 SHP 2.22
Contract: 17-18; 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 up points. Kleinendorst coached Jimothy previously (10-12) and that familiarity has seen him play O’Brien far too much. He has good speed, is solid defensively and has an okay shot, he has no hands whatsoever. Belongs on the PK and the third line.

Maxime Lajoie
 19, DL 9-0-3-3 0.33 PPP 2 SHPG 1.0
Contract: 19-20; rookie; last season 0.61 (WHL)
I spent last season wondering what the org hype was all about for Lajoie, as he had decent but not remarkable junior numbers. Now that I’ve seen him play I get it now. I’m not sure his game translates at the next level (his skating needs work), but in the AHL he’s a very smart puckmover and has been excellent on the PP.

Jordan Murray 24, DL 3-0-1-1 0.33 SHPG 1.0
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. I’m not sure what prompted the commitment, as while he’s not a bad player–he can move the puck–he doesn’t blow me away either. It’s a strange move.

Max Reinhart 25, C/LW 8-1-1-2 0.25 SHPG 0.87
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. He’s quickly found himself in Kleinendorst’s doghouse and it will be interesting to see what happens to him over the next month or so (will the Sens trade him? it’s tough moving a vet, but I’m reminded of the org dumping Shaun Heshka in a somewhat similar situation back in 11-12).

Mike Blunden 30, RW 4-0-1-1 0.25 SHPG 0.5
Contract: 17-18; 12th pro season (vet); career 0.52; last season 0.43
Former Chicago pick (2-43/05), being big with decent speed has meant he’s always been attractive to GM’s, but in 12 pro seasons he never managed more than half an NHL season and, for the most part, he’s simply appeared in a handful of games each year playing fourth-line minutes. At the AHL-level, barring an anomalous season with Syracuse, he’s always chipped in at borderline second-line levels, but his best years are behind him. Prior to his injury Kleinendorst was using him in all situations and playing him far, far too much.

Vincent Dunn 22, LW 4-0-1-1 0.25 SHPG 0.25
Contract: 17-18; 3rd pro season; career ECHL 0.38; last season 0.25 (ECHL)
Former QMJHL pest with behavioural problems 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. Destined for Brampton the moment there’s enough forwards for him to be moved.

Patrick Sieloff 23, DL 9-1-1-2 0.22 SHPG 0.66
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 finished up his ELC with the expected unremarkable numbers and was shifted 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.

Andreas Englund 21, DL 9-0-2-2 0.22 SHPG 0.66
Contract: 18-19; 2nd pro season; last season 0.14
After a rough couple of games to start the season he’s settled down to be as advertised: dependable defensive defenseman with limited offensive instincts and abilities. I’m not sure if there’s another gear for him or not–if not, he’s basically Sieloff who threws a few extra hits.

Tyler Randell 26, RW 9-1-0-1 0.11 ENP 1 SHPG 1.0
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, but at least here was a player we wouldn’t see on the powerplay…until we did. Hopefully that was a mere flutter on Kleinendorst’s part. Randell periodically takes dumb penalties, but as a positive I will say he’s reasonably responsible defensively–there’s just no reason to play him unless he’s punching people.

Macoy Erkamps 22, DR 4-0-0-0 0.00 SHPG 0.25*
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. He’s barely played 5-on-5, but spent a ton of time on the PK where he was actually fairly effective. Given the limitations of his appearances I’m not really sure what he is, but it seems like he can fill in as a penalty killer if nothing else.
*The AHL website erroneously has him listed for 5 games (despite correctly showing that he played four in the game-by-game section–I think this is related to the pre-game lineup Belleville released where he was removed at the last minute)

Kyle Flanagan 28, C/LW 2-0-0-0 0.00 SHPG 0
Contract: 17-18 (AHL); 5th pro season; career 0.41; last season 0.42
Undrafted, undersized college grad was signed by Philadelphia, but flubbed his rookie season so went to MODO in the SHL the following season, where he remained unimpressive. Signing an ECHL contract with Adirondack he was called up by Binghamton and did well enough to be earn to a two-year AHL deal. He’s a decent third-line player, although a concussion early this season makes assessing him impossible.

Ben Harpur 22, DL 2-0-0-0 0.00 SHPG 2.0
Contract: 17-18; 3rd pro season; career 0.30; last season 0.42
A Jekyll and Hyde ELC, 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 that’s not how he should be judged.

Justin Vaive 28, LW 2-0-0-0 0.00 SHPG 1.0
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.

Cody Donaghey 21, DR ECHL 5-2-1-3
Contract: 18-19; rookie; last season 0.77 (QMJHL)
The org has seemed keen on getting rid of the CHL FA ever since the acquired him; Toronto signed him and included him with the assorted detritus involved in the Dion Phaneuf trade. A potent QMJHL blueliner offensively, he has yet to dress with Belleville and has logged the most time with Brampton thus far (5-2-1-3).

In general I want to see prospects like Perron and Gagne play more, vets like Blunden, O’Brien, Randell, and McCormick to play less (especially on special teams). The return to the lineup of players like Colin White will help in that regard, although who knows how long high end prospects like that will remain?

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)