Belleville 2, Syracuse 8

What happens when an undermanned BSens roster runs into a talented team? A shellacking. This game wasn’t close and the score could have been much worse (entertaining to watch the Crunch play, admittedly). Before I get into specific observations, here are the basics (the boxscore):
Shots: 29-37
PP: 1-4 (one brief)
PK: 4-6 (including a 4-on-3)
Goaltender: Andrew Hammond got the start after a couple of games off and had no support in getting lit up for six goals before the reluctant Kleinendorst pull (he made two key saves); Driedger arrived in relief and was solid (one key save)–neither goaltender can be blamed for the blowout in my opinion. Danny Taylor was scratched amidst the triple-rotation clusterfuck (Marcus Hogberg made 44 saves in his win in Brampton and is nearing the top-ten in save percentage in the E–if you threw out his initial three starts he’s at .936–through nine games–which would put him second overall).

The Opposition
The Crunch were 14-11-3 coming into the game, but 8-2-0 in the their last ten and simply a much more talented team than the BSens. The primary issue they presented was speed and the ability of the roster to make quick passes (the BSens were terrible at filling up passing lanes with either sticks or bodies–something related to the difference in speed).

The Goals
1. White scores from the side boards on his off-side
2. Syracuse – Terrible line change and a poor defensive play by Rodewald leads to a 3-on-1 against whose pretty passing results in a pretty goal
3. Syracuse – Murray gives up on his check who tips in a backhand
4. Syracuse – Burgdoerfer gets puck watching and his man bangs in the rebound
5. Syracuse – Randell loses his check who bangs in a nice pass from behind the goal line
6. Syracuse – tip-in
7. Syracuse – Rodewald lazy on the back check and his man scores on a nice pass on a 3-on-1 down low
8. PP Murray floats one in from the point (Blunden with yet another phantom assist)
9. Syracuse PP – Peca allowed to walk in and scores low through the defender
10. Syracuse PP – three BSens get puck-watching leaving the Crunch player wide open to score on an empty net after Driedger makes the initial save

Scoring chances (5): White, Murray (pp), Werek, Dunn, O’Brien (sh)

The Roster
Innumerable call-ups have denuded the roster, as Andreas Englund and Chris DiDomenico were added to Ottawa’s roster. Werek’s return from injury prevented any need to sign a forward to a PTO, but Jamie Doornbosch (who played some games with Binghamton last year) was signed (either in lieu of Cody Donaghey, or else he’s injured in Brampton). The BSens played essentially four ECHL defensemen on the night (Murray, Erkamps, Melancon, and Doornbosch).

The Lines
McCormick-O’Brien-Gagne
Werek-White-Rodewald
Ciampini-Reinhart-Blunden
Dunn-Perron-Randell
Murray-Burgdoerfer
Lajoie-Erkamps
Doornbosch-Melancon

The second and third lines aren’t bad, although why poor Perron is buried with non-entities on the fourth is beyond me. Burgdoerfer, now exposed without an experienced lefty to save him, struggled throughout the night. The D-shortage meant there was a lot more Lajoie–pretty rough around the edges defensively, but is worth that for all the other things he does well.

Special Teams
Powerplay
Werek-Reinhart-Blunden/Murray-White (scored)
Gagne-O’Brien-Rodewald/Lajoie-McCormick
Perron-O’Brien-Gagne/Lajoie-McCormick (once)
4-on-4
O’Brien-Rodewald/Murray-Burgdoerfer
Gagne-McCormick/Lajoie-Erkamps
Gagne-Rodewald/Burgdoerfer-Erkamps
Penalty Kill
McCormick-O’Brien, Randell-Blunden (scored on), Perron-White, McCormick-Blunden, White-Randell, White-Rodewald, McCormick-White, Randell-Rodewald, Perron-Randell (scored on)
Lajoie-Burgdoerfer, Melancon-Erkamps, Murray-Erkamps, Murray-Burgdoerfer (scored on), Lajoie-Melancon, Lajoie-Erkamps, Lajoie-Murray (scored on), Burgdoerfer

The category of “goals against when Randell kills penalties” is ever-growing, otherwise the variation on the PK is simply a product of how quickly the game grew out of reach. The goals against is really three, as one of the goals the Crunch scored was just as the penalty expired. The PP shot the puck more and while that didn’t produce many scoring chances it did get them a goal (Murray’s first since his hat-trick over a month ago–also his first PP point of the season, which took seventy-nine PP shifts to accomplish).

Notable Plays
There weren’t many in a game like this, however: White got away with boarding a player in the second; Murray had his legs taken out from under him and had to be assisted off the ice (second), but stayed in the game; McCormick got into a fight in the third and that did not go well for him; Reinhart took a dumb penalty on the PP (third), which continues a recent trend of selfish penalties from him.

Player Notes
Burgdoerfer: I mentioned above that without the protection offered by his usual partners (Sieloff, Harpur, or Englund) he struggled defensively, particularly with coverage
Doornbosch: an offensive guy in the E, why not put him on the PP?
Dunn: I think a pylon with skates would accomplish the same thing–he can’t skate and as a supposed agitator he neither agitates nor hits, so why play him?
Randell: when he started being used on the PK I thought it made little sense, but he seemed at least reasonably competent–that’s gone out the window in December as poor decisions are resulting in goals against
Perron: there must be some edict from on-high that keeps pushing him onto the PK (the org probably thinks he’s another Pageau), where he’s had no success this year; why a talented player like him is buried on the fourth-line (again) is beyond me
Rodewald: the wheels have completely fallen off for him–he hasn’t had a point in December (eight games) and you again have to wonder if the org fell in love with him due to yet another hot-streak that belies limited production

I lost track of how many odd-man rushes the BSens gave up–and let’s keep in mind this was a home game so they should be getting the best possible match-ups. For a team that emphasizes defense they showed a lot of structural problems against a team with speed–both in closing lanes up high and failing to effectively collapse down low (you might want to blame the call-ups on D, but they weren’t involved in any of the goals against). The team also continues to bump into the problem of the staff overplaying players of limited talent–once they get behind it’s that much harder to catch up. Kleinendorst doesn’t seem to know how to load up an offensive line unless obvious players like DiDomenico are on the roster (part of this is due to his over estimation of how impactful guys like O’Brien and McCormick are).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

 

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