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)

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