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

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
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

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

Special Teams
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)