Belleville 0, Laval 4

I mentioned that in their previous game against Laval the BSens were badly outplayed, but still won. The situation remained the same in last night’s game except for the result. There’s going to be blame thrown Marcus Hogberg’s way and while some of that is deserved he made 38 saves so he could have been a lot worse too–he doesn’t score goals either. Before we get into the specifics, here are the basics (the boxscore):
Shots: 25-42
PP: 0-3
PK: 3-6 (two 5-on-3’s, getting scored on the lengthier one)
Goaltender: Hogberg got the start–he’d been pulled his last two starts as he’s the only goalie Kleinendorst has an itchy trigger finger with when it comes to pulls; while the big Swede wasn’t perfect, he actually played fairly well (nine key saves); Danny Taylor was the backup while Chris Driedger remains scratched (and you have to wonder what’s to become of him at this point) and Andrew Hammond is still in Colorado.

The Roster
Max Lajoie, who was sent head-first into the boards in the previous game, was understandably out of the lineup. Rather than make a call-up the team simply dressed thirteen forwards (an interesting decision–clearly they don’t want Cody Donaghey playing in Belleville, but perhaps the lack of a call was because Brampton was in Reading, PA–but who really knows?), bringing in the always useless Tyler Randell.

The Lines
Perron-Kelly-Blunden
Paul-O’Brien-Rodewald
McCormick-Reinhart-DiDomenico
Werek-Flanagan-Gagne
Englund-Jaros
Murray-Burgdoerfer
Randell-Erkamps

Yes, that’s Chris Kelly slotted as the #1 center and no, the staff didn’t make a lot of adjustments once they were down by several goals. Randell, incidentally, did not rotate in as a defenseman–instead Reinhart played on the blueline, with a variety of forwards on the third line and Randell on the fourth.

Special Teams
Powerplay
Werek-Reinhart-DiDomenico/Murray-Perron
Werek-Paul-DiDomenico/Murray-Perron
Gagne-Reinhart-O’Brien/Murray-Perron
Gagne-Reinhart-McCormick/Murray-Rodewald
Penalty Kill
Kelly-Blunden, McCormick-Flanagan (scored on), McCormick-Blunden (scored on), Perron-Flanagan, McCormick-O’Brien, Kelly-Flanagan, Rodewald-Randell, Kelly, McCormick (scored on),
Englund-Burgdoerfer (scored onx3), Murray-Jaros

A few observations here: scoring two goals did not move Gagne up to the top PP unit (apparently there was no sentiment to put the hot guy in a position to stay hot); I don’t think Perron on the point works–he’s far better working the half-boards on the wall as he’s not a threat to shoot from the point (Jaros or Gagne should be on the points for that purpose); Englund and Burgdoerfer played almost every PK minute (Murray-Jaros got one shift late in the game) and clearly it’s just not sustainable to do that; it was a rough night for McCormick and being on-ice for three PP’s against is an indicator of that.

The Goals
1. Laval PP – tipped in front
2. Laval – rebound bounces up in the air and it gets knocked in
3. Laval PP – McCormick decides to take no one and Laval walks in front of the net and scores
4. Laval PP – shot from the point goes in five-hole through a screen

Reading this you get the impression that the BSens struggled to keep the front of their net clear and that is correct.

Scoring chances (4): Rodewald, Reinhart, Gagne (pp), Paul (pp)

This pathetic amount of scoring chances ties them for the worst of the season (they pulled the same trick in their 5-1 loss to Toronto at the end of December). The sad thing is the only thing Kleinendorst did to drum up offence was a little more McCormick and O’Brien–the needle he’s been plunging into his arm all season that has the team at 18-22-3–maybe mix it up a little?

Notable Plays
Jaros was hurt by blocking a shot (first)–had to be helped to the training room, but actually did return for very limited action; DiDomenico missed an empty net; Murray took a dumb interference penalty (threw a body check at a guy without the puck) which turned into a goal against; Rodewald steamrolled a guy and had to fight (which did not go well for him); Blunden missed the net on a 2-on-1; great pass by Perron is wasted on Randell; O’Brien with a hilarious pass from the Laval corner that misses the entire team; Blunden lost his mind after Murray was clipped (he wasn’t hurt) and got tossed from the game leading to the first 5-on-3 against–this was followed by O’Brien throwing a bodycheck on Laval’s goaltender for another 5-on-3 against–veteran leadership it was not.

This was an ugly game with very few positives. Werek and Gagne remain marooned on the fourth line, while Kelly (who will be gone soon) is playing too much (no goals in fifteen games). Kleinendorst (like the org) is too much in love with McCormick, who struggled tonight–he’s a passionate guy, but he has skill limitations and should be used accordingly.

After posting an article on the powerplay (which I’ll update eventually) I owe one on the PK–I’m going to try to get it out this week. Otherwise let’s hope both Lajoie and Harpur get healthy and that Kelly’s departure means we can get forward lines that are a little less ridiculous. I know fans in Ottawa are excited to see guys like Filip Chlapik and Colin White play in the NHL, but I’d much rather see them get more minutes in Belleville where they can develop–Boucher’s fourth line doesn’t do anyone any good.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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Belleville 2, Syracuse 1 (OT); Belleville 4, Laval 1

The BSens are coming off three straight wins for the first time this season (their last two-game streak was in November), winning in front of a rejuvenated Danny Taylor. Starting with the game against the Crunch, let’s dig into the last two games, starting with the basics (boxscore):
Shots: 25-19
PP: 0-4
PK: 2-3
Goaltender: Taylor’s second straight start and second straight win, although he didn’t have to do much in this game (six key saves; this is only the second time this season the BSens have held a team to less than 20 shots, the other time being their 5-2 win over Hershey back in October); Marcus Hogberg was the backup, while Chris Driedger was scratched and Andrew Hammond remains in Colorado.

The Roster
The only change was the insertion of Macoy Erkamps due to the injury to Ben Harpur.

The Lines
McCormick-Kelly-Blunden
Paul-O’Brien-Rodewald
Flanagan-Chlapik-DiDomenico
Perron-White-Gagne
Englund-Jaros
Murray-Burgdoerfer
Lajoie-Erkamps

The nonsensical first line looks like a joke, but Kleinendorst largely stuck to this arrangement (until Chlapik was recalled to Ottawa mid-game), although all lines were rotated pretty evenly.

Special Teams
Powerplay
DiDomenico-Paul-White/Murray-Chlapik
DiDomenico-Paul-White/Lajoie-Chlapik
DiDomenico-Paul-O’Brien/Murray-White
Gagne-Perron-Blunden/Lajoie-Jaros
Gagne-Perron-Blunden/Murray-Jaros
OT
O’Brien-Rodewald/Burgdoerfer
Paul-White/Englund
McCormick-O’Brien/Burgdoerfer (scored)
Penalty Kill
Kelly-Blunden (scored on), O’Brien-Flanagan, McCormick-O’Brien, White-Flanagan
Englund-Burgdoerfer (scored on)

Murray struggled a bit on the powerplay (enough to briefly be removed from the first unit); the team really did just use one defense combination on the PK.

The Goals
1. Syracuse PP – one-timer from the board sneaks through Taylor
2. O’Brien goes five-hole on a breakaway
3. McCormick keeps and shoots on a 2-on-1

Scoring chances (10): O’Brien (x2), McCormick (x2), DiDomenico (x2, pp), Murray (pp), Gagne, Paul, Blunden

Notable Plays
Jaros with a great cross-ice pass through traffic–winds up as a Blunden one-timer, but he misses the net (first); two chances on the PP are via Chlapik passes (first); Laj hits the crossbar (second); Paul with nice moves, but no shot (third)

Belleville 4, Laval 1

This was kind of a funny game in that, through most of it, the BSens were badly outplayed, but goaltending (both good and bad) determined the outcome. The basics (boxscore):
Shots: 23-37
PP: 0-3
PK: 4-4
Goaltender: Taylor got the start again and was good (six key saves); Hogberg again backed up, with Driedger scratched and Hammond in Colorado.

The Roster
Both Chlapik and Colin White were on recall, so Werek and Reinhart drew back into the lineup.

The Lines
Paul-O’Brien-Rodewald
Perron-Kelly-Blunden
McCormick-Reinhart-DiDomenico
Werek-Flanagan-Gagne
Lajoie-Burgdoerfer
Englund-Jaros
Murray-Erkamps

There are some strange combinations here and not surprisingly the “fourth” line scored three of the teams four goals.

Special Teams
Powerplay
Werek-Reinhart-DiDomenico/Murray-Perron
Gagne-O’Brien-Blunden/Lajoie-Jaros
Penalty Kill
Kelly-Blunden, McCormick-O’Brien, Perron-Flanagan
Englund-Burgdoerfer, Lajoie-Jaros

I’m not a fan of Reinhart on the PP (his performance on it hasn’t been good) and I’d much rather have Jaros on the first PP, but the coaches have struggled to figure out the PP all season, so expectations for usage have to be kept in check. It was interesting seeing Lajoie play on the PK–normally that’s Murray’s spot (or Erkamps), so I wonder if there’s pressure from above to play him more.

The Goals
1. Gagne’s slapper goes through Werek’s screen
2. Murray floats one through a crowd (or really, over)
3. Blunden scores off a nice pass from O’Brien into the slot
4. Gagne scores a beauty top shelf
5. Laval – right after a PP they bang in a rebound

Scoring chances (11): Gagne (x3, pp), Murray (x2), Werek (x2, ppx2), Blunden, Burgdoerfer, Jaros, Rodewald

Notable Plays
Three BSens converge to hit one player leaving another open for a good opportunity against (first); Werek misses an empty net (first); Werek gets run over (first) and leaves the ice with difficulty (stays in the game); Laval hits the post (second); Kelly gets crushed (second; slow to get up; stays in the game); Lajoie is knocked head-first into the boards and stays down for a long time (third); Rodewald and Perron miss the empty net (third)

One thing of note about Chris Kelly here: according to the AHL’s PTO rules at team can only sign a player to two such contracts–if he was released for both the Spengler Cup and the Olympic squad (as opposed to loaned) the BSens would have to sign him to an actual (veteran) contract once the Olympics are over. I don’t think his loss would mean very much to the roster, but it’s food for thought.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville Senators at the Forty-Game Mark

mediocre

The above is probably unfair to the word “mediocre”, but I’m in a glass half full mood. Typically I do these assessments on a monthly basis (like I did in November), or in 19-game increments (the quarterly mark for the season), but because my schedule was thrown into chaos by the passing of my father now seems as good a time as any to catch up and look at where the team is as well as how things have changed over the last month and a half.

The BSens are 16-21-3, which puts them 28th in the league. This is actually a slightly better winning percentage than how they finished last season (0.43 vs 0.39), but not a point of pride and certainly not what the organisation expected when they spent money on questionable talent in the off-season. As the inaugural season in Belleville the org wanted a winning, or at least competitive, team, and they just haven’t delivered.

Speaking of that winning percentage, it has dropped from where it stood after two months of the season (10-11-1), having gone a miserable 6-10-2 since. As much as coach Kurt Kleinendorst likes to make excuses for his team (injuries and call-ups), they’ve actually lost less man-games over this period compared to the start of the season (91 due to injury and 58 on call-ups in the first two months, versus 58 and 57 since).

On special teams there have been tiny improvements on the powerplay–it remains 27th in the league, but has gone up to 13.6% from 12.5% in November (they are 10-69, or 14.5%, of late). Officially the PK has also gone up a little to 29th (to 76.6% from 75.9% in November), but my numbers have them 57-77 (74%) over this period–how this causes an increase I don’t know, but it does match the team’s overall numbers (I have them at 137-178 on the season, while the AHL has them at 134-175–we both have 41 goals against and the same overall percentages).

Other team numbers: the BSens continued to be consistently outshot (4-17-1 in games prior to this segment, 4-13-1 in it)–over the latter period they gave up 109 more shots than they took (6.05 per game) versus 127 previously (5.77 per game), with the team averaging 25.77 shots per game (versus 28.36 to start the season). As for goals per game, the team scored an anemic 39 (2.16), a huge drop from 2.77 in November (and 3.00 in October). The team has given up 76 goals (4.22) versus 77 previously (3.5).

Individual Performance (December-January)
[Arranged by points-per-game, minus empty-net points which are noted in their totals, with their relative performance increasing/decreasing noted by colour–green is increasing, red is decreasing; players with 6 games or fewer are in italics]
White 0.62 16-5-5-10 (+0.16)
Jaros 0.53 13-1-6-7 (+0.2)
Harpur 0.5 6-1-3-4 (EN) (even)
Werek 0.5 12-3-3-6 (-0.13)
DiDomenico 0.5 16-2-6-8 (-0.5)
McCormick 0.5 18-2-7-9 (+0.05)
Chlapik 0.44 9-3-1-4 (-0.13)
Murray 0.44 18-2-6-8 (+0.04)
Blunden 0.4 15-4-3-7 (EN) (+0.15)
Ciampini 0.4 5-1-1-2 (ECHL 6-1-5-6) (+0.03)
O’Brien 0.38 18-2-5-7 (-0.22)
Gagne 0.31 16-3-2-5 (-0.14)
Paul 0.3 10-2-1-3 (-0.02)
Perron 0.27 18-2-3-5 (-0.18)
Flanagan 0.25 4-0-1-1 (n/a)
Reinhart 0.25 16-2-2-4 (-0.13)
Englund 0.17 17-0-3-3 (+0.04)
Rodewald 0.16 18-1-2-3 (-0.75)
Burgdoerfer 0.16 18-1-2-3 (-0.11)
Randell 0.16 12-0-2-2 (+0.16)
Kelly 0.11 9-0-2-2 (EN) (n/a)
Lajoie 0.06 15-0-1-1 (-0.32)
Erkamps 13-0-0-0 (-0.09)
Sieloff 6-0-0-0 (-0.13)
Dunn 5-0-0-0 (ECHL 6-2-0-2) (-0.33)
Doornbosch 1-0-0-0 (n/a)
Melancon 2-0-0-0 (n/a)
Donaghey (ECHL 13-0-0-0) (n/a)

Many of these players suffered through long scoring slumps and some of the positive/negative comparisons are related to small sample size or slight changes. The biggest changes come from Rodewald, DiDomenico, Lajoie, and O’Brien (on the negative side) and Jaros and White on the positive. For context, here are the season-to-date totals (minimum 10 games played, prospects in blue, veterans in purple):

DiDomenico 0.6 20-5-8-13 6 PPP (empty-net)
Werek 0.58 31-9-10-19 6 PPP (empty-net)
White 0.55 29-8-8-16 5 PPP
Chabot 0.53 13-2-5-7 5 PPP
Chlapik 0.53 30-6-10-16 7 PPP
Harpur 0.5 10-2-4-6 2 PPP (empty-net)
O’Brien 0.5 38-9-10-19 3 PPP
McCormick 0.47 38-5-15-20 3 PPP (2 empty-net)
Rodewald 0.46 30-6-8-14 1 PPP
Jaros 0.42 28-2-10-12 5 PPP
Murray 0.42 33-5-9-14 5 PPP
Gagne 0.39 38-12-3-15 3 PPP
Ciampini 0.38 21-3-5-8
Perron 0.36 38-4-11-15 3 PPP (empty-net)
Blunden 0.36 19-4-4-8 1 PPP (empty-net)
Paul 0.33 24-2-6-8 2 PPP
Reinhart 0.32 37-7-6-13 2 PPP (empty-net)
Burgdoerfer 0.22 40-3-6-9 3 PPP
Lajoie 0.21 28-0-6-6 4 PPP
Dunn 0.21 14-0-3-3
Englund 0.15 39-0-6-6
Sieloff 0.1 28-1-2-3
Kelly 0.08 12-0-2-2 (empty-net)
Randell 0.06 32-1-2-3 (empty-net)
Erkamps 0.04 24-0-1-1

For any Nick Paul fans out there…yikes! I’m not sure he’ll ever be more than he is (an occasional call-up). This isn’t his rookie or sophomore season, this is year three of his ELC, and he just can’t put up the numbers.

On a more positive note, let’s look at a couple key players who have spent much of the season in Ottawa and see what impact they’ve had on the team when they’ve been in Belleville (Chabot and Harpur have never been in the lineup at the same time, incidentally):

Thomas Chabot 4-8-1, PP 8-63 (12.7%), PK 48-60 (80%), GF 34 (2.61), shots 381 (29.3)
Ben Harpur 7-3-0, PP 7-30 (23.3%), PK 23-32 (71.8%), GF 32 (3.2), shots 267 (26.7)

Don’t get too excited about data from the small sample size (the winning percentage for Harpur is an excellent illustration of that), but there are a few interesting nuggets here: Chabot adds more shots, as you’d expect, but his impact on the PK versus Harpur is interesting (he didn’t play much on the PK, but his presence meant the blueliners who did were kept in their role).

Finally, let’s take a look at goaltending. None of the men between the pipes have played especially well over this period, although they’ve all had their moments:
Marcus Hogberg 2-2-0 .882 3.75 (ECHL 3-2-0 .939 2.13)
Danny Taylor 1-3-0 .878 3.33
Andrew Hammond 2-4-1 .868 4.37
Chris Driedger 1-2-0 .859 4.50

These are all terrible save percentages, but the fact that they are all low indicates problems with team defense as much as issues with the goaltenders themselves.

I’ve criticized the coaching all season long, but I want to make it clear that better usage wouldn’t make the BSens a good team, it would just be a little better and prospects would get more opportunities–the latter is what’s most important in a year where the team has no chance of making the playoffs.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 4, Hartford 2

Hartford rolled into Belleville as the worst team in their own division with only marginally better numbers than the BSens. This “battle of the basement” meant a competitive and entertaining game. Before we get into the specifics, here are the basics (the boxscore):
Shots: 28-32
PP: 0-2
PK: 1-1 (five-minute major)
Goaltender: Danny Taylor was given his first start since a 3-1 loss December 20th and he put up his best performance of the season (seven key saves). Marcus Hogberg sat as the back-up while Andrew Hammond remained with Colorado and Chris Driedger was the healthy scratch. If this can drum up some interest in Taylor, whose veteran presence serves no purpose on a bottom-tier AHL roster, perhaps the Sens can move him so the prospects can play out the string and develop (neither Hammond or Taylor will be with the BSens next season, so they might as well decide what they want to do going forward–if you’re going to let Driedger go it’s far better to establish some value and trade him).

The Roster
Ethan Werek and Max Reinhart were out of the lineup from the blowout loss to Wilkes-Barre (I didn’t catch if they were scratched or hurt–with the latter at least I’m guessing hurt), creating space for Gabriel Gagne and Kyle Flanagan to slot back in.

The Lines
Paul-O’Brien-Rodewald
McCormick-Kelly-Blunden
Perron-White-Gagne
Flanagan-Chlapik-DiDomenico
Harpur-Burgdoerfer
Englund-Jaros
Lajoie-Murray

Kleinendorst took his veteran needle and stuck it deep in his vein for this one–it panned out and going by the usual confirmation bias that plagues the Sens’ org I think we’ll see this again next game. Anyone who thinks this result justifies the instinct needs to look at the BSens record to understand how often it has failed in general.

Special Teams
Powerplay
McCormick-Paul-DiDomenico/Harpur-Chlapik
Gagne-Perron-Blunden/Murray-Jaros
Penalty Kill
Kelly-Blunden, McCormick-O’Brien, Perron-Flanagan
Harpur-Burgdoerfer, Englund-Jaros

McCormick back on the powerplay is simply a symptom of the veteran heroin Kleinendorst was mainlining on the night. This is the first time all season the BSens have only given up a single powerplay, albeit was a five-minute major, but this is less about the team learning discipline and the vagaries of individual referees having their own standards (Darcy Burchell riding solo on the night). I intend to put up a post about the PK this season, something put on hold with my father passing away, but I’m hopeful I can get it out sooner than later.

The Goals
1. Hartford – Kelly and Harpur get confused on coverage leaving a man wide open in the slot
2. White scores off a sweet pass from Perron on a 2-on-1
3. Hartford – a tired Perron can’t keep up with his check who walks into the slot and scores
4. O’Brien bangs in Jaros’ rebound
5. Blunden deflects in McCormick’s pass
6. Blunden into an empty net

Scoring chances (9): O’Brien (x2), White, Blunden, Harpur, Jaros, Perron (pp), Gagne, McCormick (sh)

Notable Plays
Flanagan with a terrible giveaway that leads to breakaway (first); Chlapik guilty of over passing–he’s right in the slot and passes it off (second); White gets tossed for a hit from behind (second); Chlapik skates through two guys…but not the third and losses the puck (third).

Player Notes
Chris Kelly picked up his first two points of the season, but before uncorking the champagne it has to be said that one was a secondary assist and the other a helper on an empty net goal–however long he’s with the BSens he’s going to remain a drag on the offense. As for Blunden, the goals are nice, but he’d been pointless his previous six games and it’s unlikely this is a sign of regular production from him. I’m far happier with Jaros picking up a couple of points–I’m keen on him getting top PP time and this is a step in that direction. Lajoie, who I quite like, is in the midst of a terrible twelve-game pointless streak, but I think a good part of that is usage and bad luck. Speaking of pointless streaks, Gagne’s has hit eleven games–first unit PP time would help, as well as more ice-time and better linemates. Paul also continues to struggle to produce (one point in his last seven) despite favourable usage.

I haven’t talked about the guys in the ECHL in quite some time–once Hogberg was freed from Brampton and Donaghey’s season was clearly a failure I haven’t paid as much attention to it. Daniel Ciampini, who deserves to be playing with the BSens, is humming along at a point-per-game clip (6-1-5-6); Vincent Dunn is playing like Vincent Dunn (6-2-0-2); and Cody Donaghey’s struggles continue (28-2-2-4). If Ben Harpur stays in Belleville or Patrick Sieloff gets healthy I’d expect Macoy Erkamps to go down to Brampton sooner than later. It doesn’t seem like sending either Hogberg or Driedger down again is in the cards, so the ridiculous four-goalie situation will remain until someone is moved.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 2, Wilkes-Barre 6

Last week the BSens went into Wilkes-Barre and got crushed 6-0 (my discussion of that game is here), so with a much improved roster what did we get? Another lopsided loss, albeit the score is a little unfair to the team. Still, it’s a wake-up call for anyone who thought their win against the Amerks was a sign that things were changing for the team. Before the observations, the basics (the boxscore):
Shots: 21-32
PP: 1-3
PK: 3-4 (one of these was the last eight seconds of the third period)
Goaltender: Marcus Hogberg got the start, but was pulled after three goals (he made two key saves)–Danny Taylor came in as relief (four key saves; it’s the first time he’s played since a December 20th loss to Rochester). Both goalies let in weak goals, but I wouldn’t blame either for the loss per se. Chris Driedger was scratched and Andrew Hammond (coming off a win over Rochester) was on recall with Colorado.

The Goals
1. Wilkes-Barre – Hogberg beat short-side on a rush (not a great goal)
2. White bangs in McCormick’s cross-crease pass
3. Wilkes-Barre – Hogberg beat top-shelf on a clear shot (might have gone off Lajoie’s stick, but even so the shot was a long way out)
4. Wilkes-Barre – Hogberg beat high far side from the slot (this was a A+ scoring opportunity, so no fault here)
5. PP White one-times a nice feed from Chlapik
6. Wilkes-Barre – DiDomenico just doesn’t bother taking the man who beats Taylor swinging from one side of the rink to the other
7. Wilkes-Barre PP – awful goal from the the goal line (Taylor not against his post)
8. Wilkes-Barre – empty net goal

Scoring chances (9): White (x2, pp), Rodewald (x2), Chlapik (x2), Blunden, DiDomenico, McCormick

The Roster
Gagne (!) and Flanagan were out of the lineup, replaced by Chlapik and White; Erkamps was out in favour of Harpur. Sexton remains out with injury (he hasn’t played since November 4th), as is Sieloff (last played December 30th); Chabot remains in the NHL (presumably permanently); Ciampini, Dunn, and Donaghey are in the ECHL, while Randell thankfully remains a healthy scratch.

The Lines
Paul-Reinhart-DiDomenico
McCormick-O’Brien-White
Werek-Chlapik-Rodewald
Perron-Kelly-Blunden
Harpur-Burgdoerfer
Englund-Jaros
Lajoie-Murray

As nice as it was for Reinhart to score in his last game, he shouldn’t be in the top-six; nor should McCormick or O’Brien (who, thanks to White, both broke pointless streaks–four and five games respectively); why Werek or Chlapik were on the third line is beyond me as both were excellent. The defense could be better, but the pairings aren’t terrible.

Special Teams
Powerplay
Werek-Chlapik-White/Harpur-DiDomenico (scored)
Paul-Reinhart-Blunden/Murray-Jaros
Penalty Kill
O’Brien-White, Kelly-Blunden (scored on), Perron-White, Perron-O’Brien, McCormick-O’Brien
Harpur-Burgdoerfer (scored on), Englund-Jaros

I’m not a fan of the second unit–Blunden’s footspeed issues should keep him off all special teams, while Reinhart’s production on the PP has been terrible (eg). With Gagne off the roster there aren’t a lot of other options, but they exist.

Notable Plays
White with a great blueline save on the PP (first); Perron took a crosscheck to the back of the head (first); Harpur threw a huge hit in the offensive zone (second); DiDomenico made a blind pass to the wrong team which resulted in him taking a penalty (third); Murray took a dumb neutral zone penalty that wound up as a goal against (third).

Players Notes
Hogberg: he’s good enough that he shouldn’t be giving up goals on clean shots, but the plus side is the talent is there–it’s about technique and consistency (a guy this big should not be getting beat high this often)
DiDomenico: his worst game of the season–a lot of mistakes, particularly in the third period with a poor defensive effort
Chlapik: wish he played more as he does so many things well
White: as a top-prospect he’s been underwhelming in his rookie season (he broke a five-game pointless streak tonight), but some of that is related to how he’s been used–tonight he showed what he can do if he’s properly set-up
Kelly: before we sing “Oh Canada” let’s bow our heads over his eleven game pointless streak
Paul: for a guy with good hands it’s amazing how little he accomplishes with his skills
Rodewald: nice player, but I have to wonder if the Sens are already regretting giving him that ELC–just like last season, after an early hot streak he has gone ice cold (17-1-2-3)–regressing to the mean
Blunden: I mentioned his skating and it’s no coincidence that despite a lot of ice time he’s pointless in his last six games
Perron: his fourth game without a point, but I’m not sure what he’s supposed to do playing on the fourth line with spot duty on the PK (and currently off the PP)

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 3, Rochester 2 (OT)

Here we are with a much more relaxed and normal recap. Other than convincing my buddy that “Homer the Yellow” wasn’t a great name for his D&D character, there are no distractions.

The BSens played an entertaining game against a talented Rochester American squad last night. The Amerks took the game pretty lightly as evidenced by them dressing former BSen bust Conor Allen (he’d only played two games in December and this was his first in January)–for those who don’t know Allen was a mid-season acquisition in the 2015-16 season that didn’t pan out (added and then discarded). With that said, let’s delve into the basics (boxscore):
Shots: 35-23
PP: 1-4
PK: 2-2
Goaltender: Andrew Hammond was between the pipes and miraculously didn’t need to be that good for the team to win (five key saves); Marcus Hogberg backed up, while both Chris Driedger and Danny Taylor were scratched.

It’s worth pointing out this is the second largest margin of outshooting a team this season (the largest was also against Rochester) and only the fifth time this year they’ve both scored on the powerplay and not been scored on the penalty kill. While the performance wasn’t perfect, there was a lot to like about how the team played.

The Goals
1. Werek is wide open in front for Rodewald and dekes the goaltender
2. Rochester – Flanagan passes to the wrong team and the Amerks score on the 2-on-1
3. Rochester – deflection in front
4. Reinhart bangs in Jaros’ rebound
5. PP Murray walks in and scores shelf with a wrister

Scoring chances (15): Rodewald (x3), Werek (x2), Reinhart (x2), Perron (x2, sh), DiDomenico (x2), Murray (pp), Englund, Burgdoerfer, Lajoie

The Roster
The main change was the addition of Chris Kelly on a PTO (right before he was named to Team Canada), the deletion of Filip Chlapik on recall, and Kyle Flanagan slotting in for the useless Tyler Randell.

The Lines
Paul-Reinhart-DiDomenico
McCormick-O’Brien-Gagne
Werek-Flanagan-Rodewald
Perron-Kelly-Blunden
Lajoie-Burgdoerfer
Englund-Jaros
Murray-Erkamps

How Reinhart’s 7-1-0-1 performance warranted centering the first line I don’t know, but he did score, so that’s something. The second line…I’m glad Gagne played more, but I don’t like who he plays with. I also don’t like Perron on the fourth line, who was good again tonight, but the talent at forward tonight was reasonable enough that he wasn’t completely wasted.

Special Teams
Powerplay
Werek-Reinhart-DiDomenico/Paul-Murray
Gagne-Perron-Blunden/Lajoie-Jaros
Werek-Reinhart-DiDomenico/Jaros
Werek-Reinhart-DiDomenico/Murray (scored)
Penalty Kill
Forwards: Kelly-Blunden, McCormick-O’Brien, Perron-Flanagan, Kelly-Flanagan
Defense: Englund-Jaros, Englund-Lajoie, Murray-Jaros, Englund-Burgdoerfer

The latter PP combinations were only for OT, with Jaros having jumped off for a change when the winning goal was scored. Blunden is far too slow to be on either special team, but he is a step up from Randell.

Notable Plays
Reinhart passes to the wrong team (first); Blunden blows a 3-on-2 by throwing a bad pass through everyone (first); McCormick takes a puck to the face (first); Perron with a fantastic backhand pass (first); McCormick hits the post (second); Paul passes to the wrong team in front of his own net (third); Jaros with a great rush (Gagne’s shot is over the net; third).

Players Notes
Lajoie: I’ve been happy to see him play more–great hands, although both his foot speed and defensive play need work–had a fantastic scoring opportunity in the game, but is still looking for his first goal
Murray: it took a very long time for him to appear comfortable on the powerplay and while I still think there’s room to improve he’s finally putting up numbers; I’d rather see him on the second unit, but I’m less bothered than I was with him previously
Kelly
: while he wasn’t particularly distinguished, this was his best game of the season–clearly playing in the Spengler Cup helped him a little
Perron: there have been a lot of positive signs from him of late–showing off great hands (particularly passing)–albeit he’s rarely been put in a position to capitalize on that talent
Werek: after spending five games spinning his wheels on the fourth line he was moved up to the third and his effectiveness improved at a commensurate rate
Gagne: I’d like him to play with a premiere passer, but Kleinendorst has veered away from that presumably fearing his defensive play (which isn’t that bad in my opinion)

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Catching Up on Belleville’s Games (Part Two)

I’m now fully caught up on the BSens games, having watched those I missed while attending my father’s funeral. As with the last post I’ve slightly truncated my usual format to prevent the text wall from becoming overwhelming. Before I break down the games though, I’ll reiterate what I said on Twitter: the most obvious thing a coach impacts is special teams and discipline. Where are the BSens in that respect? PP 27th, PK 30th, and PIMs 30th–how does this report card get a thumbs-up from the org? Kleinendorst can blame his roster all he wants–while the BSens were never going to set the AHL on fire, they are better than this.

Belleville 1, Binghamton 6 (boxscore)

Lineup
Hogberg (eleven key saves)/Driedger (three key saves)
McCormick-O’Brien-Blunden
Paul-White-Rodewald
Perron-Reinhart-DiDomenico
Werek-Flanagan-Gagne
Englund-Burgdoerfer
Murray-Jaros
Lajoie-Erkamps

I’ll reiterate the theme for most of this season: TOI and combinations don’t make a lot of sense.

Goals
1. Binghamton – shot from the slot via a nice pass through traffic
2. Binghamton – low far side from the dot on a 3-on-2
3. Binghamton PP – 4-on-2 after the shorthanded chance–keeps and scores short side
4. Binghamton PP – one-timer from the top of the circle
5. Binghamton PP – high shot through a crowd
6. PP Jaros wrister from the hashmarks
7. Binghamton PP – one-timer from the dot

How do you give up this many penalties? The other crazy thing is neither goaltender played that badly–in fact, Hogberg was mostly good (if rough around the edges). The BSens, including their coach, showed an inability to control themselves and losing control cost them four goals–four. Ridiculous.

Notable Plays
Lajoie with a nice defensive play to break up a 2-on-1 (first); Erkamps got turned into a pylon (first), but Bingo missed the net; Blunden couldn’t get a shot off on a 2-on-1 (second)–his inability to skate causes him so many problems; Englund got into another pointless fight and lost (third).

Belleville 0, Wilkes-Barre 6 (boxscore)

The feed for Wilkes-Barre is awful–like watching through a film of mud; the WB broadcaster tries way too hard to imitate his NHL counterpart.

Lineup
Driedger (seven key saves)
DiDomenico-Chlapik-Rodewald
Perron-Paul-Gagne
McCormick-O’Brien-Blunden
Werek-Reinhart-Randell
Lajoie-Burgdoerfer
Englund-Jaros
Murray-Erkamps

On paper there are improvements to the lineup (org pressure putting Chlapik on the first line), but why is Randell playing? It’s one of life’s great mysteries. Lajoie did not play as much as you’d hope given the lineup.

Goals
1. Wilkes-Barre – Driedger beat high from a long way out
2. Wilkes-Barre – Driedger beat high from a shot from the boards
3. Wilkes-Barre – Murray turns it over which causes a 2-on-1, where Burgdoerfer decides to chase the puck-carrier leaving the other man wide open to score
4. Wilkes-Barre PP – the puck is bounced in off Driedger from behind the goal line
5. Wilkes-Barre – shot from the point through a screen
6. Wilkes-Barre – one-on-four the Penguin walks through the forwards and beats

This wasn’t a Rembrandt from Driedger, but it wasn’t as bad as the score indicates either and even the second coming of Dominik Hasek can’t win if you don’t score goals.

Notable Plays
Lajoie with a great save along the blueline to keep up offensive pressure (first); kind of funny seeing WB’s McKegg favouring Chlapik’s usual play of circling behind the opposition goal and skating to the blueline to pass the puck off to the defenseman (first); Reinhart gets pushed into the net resulting in a large cuddle party after the whistle (third); Chlapik with a fantastic steal and pass (third).

Both of these games were ugly, with the BSens shooting themselves in the foot against Binghamton. Chlapik was recalled to Ottawa (alas) and the team re-signed Chris Kelly to a PTO because the struggle to score goals needs to be just that much more painful. The only motivation to keep the eyes on the team now is watching prospects and hoping for a change in coaching philosophy that let’s them all play.

My original intention was to do a summary and analysis of the team for December, but as we get further and further away from that I might just go through all the games since November rather than cutting if off at the 31st–stay tuned.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)