Belleville Senators: Assessing the Team (November)

This is the second part of my look at how the BSens performed in November (you can see the same thoughts for October here). This isn’t so much how individual players performed, but rather about the team. The basics first: the BSens were 6-6-1 for the month, which is an exact continuation from October (4-4-1). They only scored 36 goals (2.77), while allowing 46 (3.53), which is a 0.23 drop on the former and a 0.09 increase on the latter. The team is giving up an average of 35.4 shots against (roughly the same as in October), while firing 28.3 themselves (again, roughly the same). So the same number of shots, but fewer goals–this tells you the wrong people are getting more shots. As for powerplay and shorthanded situations, they were 6-48, or 12.5%, and 41-54, or 75.9%. These are both atrocious numbers giving them the worst PP in the league and the 27th PK in the league–you ask what areas coaches impact most and this is it.

Scoring Chances
By my count the team had 130 chances throughout the month (or 10 per game), which is very similar to what they produced in October. Here’s the list of the players who had the most chances per game with goals scored in brackets (minus empty-netters; minimum of 0.5 per game):
O’Brien 1.45 (6)
Gagne 1.3 (5)
Rodewald 1.14 (2)
McCormick/White 1.0 (1/3)
Reinhart 0.84 (4)
Paul 0.83 (0)
Werek 0.69 (3)
Perron 0.53 (2)
Murray/Ciampini 0.5 (3/1)

The prevailing theory when it comes to scoring chances is that players will ultimately produce at their normal level so long as they keep getting chances–so despite how atrociously McCormick has been when it comes to goal-scoring, if he continues to get chances he should finish within his usual parameters (0.14 currently, very close to his rookie average, versus 0.31 last season). You worry when a player stops getting chances and the biggest drop comes from Filip Chlapik, who went from 1.5 per game in October to 0.46, much of which is related to ice time (playing less on scoring lines and getting dropped to the second PP unit).

Breaking Down Special Teams

Both have been absolute garbage this month, so let’s look first at the players given the most prominent roles and then look at combinations (only those who played a minimum of 5 games are considered); it’s organised by shifts-per-game with their on-ice for a goal noted as well as the number of points; I’ve divided it between forwards and defensemen.

Powerplay
White 3.84 (3/0)
Rodewald 3.14 (2/0)
Chlapik 3.07 (3/2)
Gagne 3.00 (2/2)
Paul 3.00 (1/0)
McCormick 2.84 (3/3)
O’Brien 2.54 (3/2)
Perron 2.46 (1/1)
Reinhart 2.38 (1/1)
Werek 0.92 (0/0)

Chabot 4.5 (2/2)
Jaros 3.16 (0/0)
Murray 2.5 (2/0)
Burgdoerfer 1.84 (2/0)

This doesn’t differentiate between first and second unit usage (each scored 3 goals), so what about units? What were the common combinations? Here are the most frequent by shifts (minimum of five shifts together) with goals scored in brackets and an indication if it was a first or second unit:
McCormick-Reinhart-O’Brien 15 (1) 1st
Gagne-Chlapik-Perron 13 (1) 2nd
Gagne-Chlapik-Rodewald 7 (1) 2nd
McCormick-O’Brien-Rodewald 7 (1) 1st
Chlapik-White-Sexton 6 (1) 2nd
Paul-White-Sexton 5 (0) 1st
Werek-Reinhart-Rodewald 5 (0) 2nd

Here are the defense pairings with the same organisational model:
Chabot-White 20 (1) 1st
Murray-Burgdoerfer 9 (1) 2nd
Murray-Perron 7 (0) 2nd
Murray-Jaros 6 (0) 2nd
Chabot-Perron 5 (1) 1st

The odd insistence on putting O’Brien, McCormick, and sometimes Reinhart on the first PP unit has resulted in a major throttling of offense.

Penalty Kill
Beginning with individual players, here’s who has played on the PK the most (again going by shifts with goals against noted–minimum of five games played):
McCormick 3.53 (5)
O’Brien 3.3 (2)
Paul 2.83 (1)
White 2.76 (4)
Rodewald 2.71 (4)
Perron 2.46 (6)
Randell 1.27 (1)

Sieloff 3.76 (4)
Englund 3.61 (5)
Burgdoerfer 3.07 (5)
Jaros 3.0 (5)
Murray 1.41 (3)

Both Perron and Murray standout as being victimized proportionally (albeit via a small sample size). There’s a lot more consistency in the pairings (as you’d expect), organised by shifts (goals against).

McCormick-O’Brien 23 (1)
Perron-White 15 (1)
McCormick-Sexton 11 (0)
Paul-O’Brien 9 (0)
McCormick-White 8 (1)
Perron-O’Brien 5 (1)
Paul-Sexton 5 (2)

On defense:

Sieloff-Burgdoerfer 24 (3)
Englund-Sieloff 20 (1)
Englund-Burgdoerfer 16 (1)
Englund-Jaros 9 (2)
Sieloff-Jaros 6 (1)
Englund-Murray 6 (2)
Sieloff-Harpur 5 (0)
Murray-Jaros 5 (1)

The top-four forward combinations listed have all been very good, as have the top-three defense combinations. The coaching staff’s experimentation seems like a mix of attempting to develop prospects (particularly Perron and Jaros) and rewarding favourites (Randell, whose combinations don’t make this list).

Since I posted an article on lines recently, I’ll simply say November was a frustrating month for ideal usage.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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Belleville 1, Toronto 3

The third game against the Marlies this season went just like the others, as the BSens struggled to stifle Toronto’s offense (don’t let the shot totals fool you). Before I get into specific observations, here are the basics (box score):
Shots: 25-23
Powerplay: 0-7 (includes a 4-on-3 that became a 5-on-3)
Penalty Kill: 1-7 (includes a 5-on-3)
Goaltender: Danny Taylor got the start and kept most of his key saves until after the result of the game was no longer in question (8 key saves); Chris Driedger backed up, Andrew Hammond was scratched, and Marcus Hogberg remains in Brampton (he was the back-up for the game played by the Beast).

The Opposition
The talented Marlies arrived first in the division (16-4-0), whose only flaw is their powerplay (the team being guilty of over-passing, something they did 5-on-5 against the BSens as well). With some of the best goaltending in the league the team feels free to take chances, which means they surrender them too.

The Goals
1. Toronto – terrible change (Murray and Lajoie came off for Sieloff and Burgdoerfer; the latter should/could have turned around) leaves a Marlie wide open who walks in and scores
2. Perron bangs in a loose puck in front
3. Toronto – Burgdoerfer doesn’t see the man behind him who beats Taylor up high
4. Toronto PP – low shot through the crowd

Scoring chances (14): White (x3), Werek (x3), Lajoie (pp), McCormick (pp), Randell, Rodewald, Gagne, Reinhart, Paul, Perron

This is a high volume of chances for the team and particularly remarkable for Werek who barely played.

The Roster
The BSens went with the identical lineup that beat Laval in overtime, meaning two of their best players (Werek and Chlapik) barely played all game despite being very effective when they were on the ice.

The Lines
McCormick-O’Brien-Gagne
Paul-Reinhart-Rodewald
Perron-Kelly-White
Werek-Chlapik-Randell
Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Englund-Jaros
Lajoie-Murray

As mentioned above these are completely unchanged from the last game.

Special Teams
Powerplay
McCormick-O’Brien-Rodewald/Lajoie-White
Paul-Reinhart-Gagne/Murray-Jaros
4-on-3
Paul-White/Rodewald-Jaros
5-on-3
Paul-White-Rodewald/Burgdoerfer-Jaros (Burgdoerfer was the man in the box, thus joined the 4-on-3 unit)
4-on-4
Paul-White/Lajoie-Murray
Penalty Kill
Perron-Kelly/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Perron-Kelly/Englund-Jaros (scored on)
Kelly-Randell/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Kelly-Randell/Sieloff-Englund
Kelly-Randell/Englund-Jaros
McCormick-O’Brien/Englund-Jaros
McCormick-O’Brien/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Paul-White/Murray-Burgdoerfer
Paul-White/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Paul-O’Brien/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
5-on-3
White/Englund-Burgdoerfer

The powerplay was unchanged and while the addition of Lajoie to the first unit helps a lot, much of the talent with him isn’t conducive to regular production. The second unit lacks a consistent presence to get the puck into the zone with control. Despite all the seeming combos on the PK it was fairly consistent, with the most notable changes being Randell’s return to it and O’Brien playing less. I’d read nothing into the 5-on-3 defense, as the Marlies spent the entire time trying to get their teammate a hat-trick.

Notable Plays
Perron misses the net from the slot on a nice steal (first); Rodewald, right after a great opportunity to score, got into a fight that he lost pretty badly (second); Reinhart and Chlapik had a 2-on-1 in the second, but the former couldn’t connect his pass to the latter for a tap-in; a wide open Randell missed the net from below the dot on a great feed from Chlapik (third).

Player Notes
Murray: invisible most of the night (which is both good and bad–other than the bad line change there was nothing particularly awful)
Lajoie: kept setting up McCormick with open lanes on the PP to shoot, but the latter just didn’t want to shoot; a good game for him outside a brutal turnover in the second
Jaros: unfortunately playing with Englund, while better for him defensively, stifles his offense (he does much better when paired with a puck-mover like Lajoie or Chabot); only snafu was taking a double minor trying to pound on Kapanen for no particular reason
Englund: solid game for him (nothing exciting, but nothing bad)
Burgdoerfer: the Turnover Meter was at zero tonight, which is a big plus for him, but he was guilty of lack of awareness on the game winning goal, so one can’t get too excited
Sieloff: outside of throwing a big hit in the second and having to fight because of it, was his simple, defense-first self
Chlapik: barely played, but when he was he created chances; he and Werek had a particularly dominant shift early in the third and were reward edwith…their regular rotation–coaching!
Werek: to get three scoring chances when you barely play is pretty remarkable; he has to be frustrated
Randell: speaking of frustration, it’s frustrating to see a player with no hands be given golden opportunities and do nothing with them; he’s been okay on the PK
Kelly: he is what he is–adds nothing offensively, but is solid defensively (he’s been pretty bad on faceoffs, incidentally)
Perron: I’m always happy when he scores; not sure he belongs on the PK (his on-ice numbers for goals against are very high)
White: most of his scoring chances are generated individually, as he still hasn’t been given regular linemates who gel with him
Reinhart: has been playing on the second line long after he cooled off; outside bungling the 2-on-1 with Chlapik he was invisible
Rodewald: does not work well with Reinhart as his center (I’d much rather see Paul lining up in the middle with him)
Paul: largely invisible; his goalless streak has reached 15-games
Gagne: his line doesn’t generate much offense–most of what he gets comes off individual rushes into the zone
McCormick: clearly has lost his confidence as he passed up numerous opportunities to shoot on the powerplay
O’Brien: while he’s probably the team’s best penalty killer he’s had his shifts reduced (I’m not sure why precisely)

At this stage the frustrations are less about the players than the coaching. Last season I was happy that Kleinendorst moved away from some of Luke Richardson’s stubbornness with the lineup (Stortini in particular), but we can see this year he has many of the same tendencies. Will this loss make him change things up? Certainly Chris DiDomenico’s return (re-claimed off waivers) will have an impact.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)