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

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
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)