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)

Catching Up on Belleville’s Games (Part One)

As some of you know my father passed away December 30th, which, along with bowling me over emotionally, also threw a wrench into my schedule. I’m mostly caught up with Belleville’s games and this is the first of a two part effort to post the notes that I have before they become extremely dated. I was on a music nostalgia kick before the death of my father and Pearl Jam’s “Better Man” seems appropriate to Belleville’s coach and GM–you just can’t find a better man (apparently). With that said it’s time to hop into the time machine and turn the dial back–we’re going chronologically through these since my last game post (I’ve truncated my usual format to avoid the text wall becoming ridiculous):

Belleville 3, Laval 4 (boxscore)

Lineup
Hammond (six key saves)
DiDomenico-O’Brien-Rodewald
Werek-White-Gagne
McCormick-Reinhart-Blunden
Perron-Randell
Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Englund-Jaros
Murray-Erkamps
Lajoie

This game seems a million years ago, but what the hell is Lajoie doing as the 7th defenseman, or Perron on the fourth line, or Randell dressing? That said, in the context of the Kleinendorst universe the forwards lines are a step in the right direction (which, alas, would not last).

Goals
1. Laval – Murray turns it over and Hammond is beat far side on a wrister at the dot
2. Laval PP – one-timer from a bad angle
3. Laval – Erkamps gets bowled over and White doesn’t take the check who bangs in the rebound
4. O’Brien off a nice feed from McCormick from behind the net
5. Laval PP – one-timer from the point
6. McCormick bangs in his own rebound
7. PP Rodewald bangs in Murray’s rebound

Rodewald broke a 9-game pointless streak with the late goal, but the surge was too little, too late, as lousy special teams (along with a bad goal) combined to let the team down.

Notable Plays
The first Laval PP goal was off a terrible penalty from McCormick; White nearly scored on a wrap-around (first); Hammond took a hilarious dive trying to draw a penalty (he failed; second); Reinhart was in some pain after a faceoff (third), but remained in the game.

 

Belleville 3, Providence 2 (OT) (boxscore)

Lineup
Hogberg (seven key saves)
DiDomenico-White-Rodewald
McCormick-O’Brien-Blunden
Perron-Reinhart-Gagne
Werek-Ciampini-Randell
Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Englund-Jaros
Lajoie-Murray

Erkamps’ boondoggle on the third Laval goal seems to have banished him for this game, moving Lajoie up. The second line here is…I mean, why? They could have Perron playing with Werek and Gagne, but why try to win games when you can just hope to win them?

Goals
1. Blunden bangs in a pass into the slot by O’Brien
2. PP – Werek shoves in Jaros’ rebound
3. Providence – shot from the point through a screen
4. Providence – high shot from the point through a crowd
5. Burgdoerfer picks up a loose puck in front and puts it away

Hogberg’s only struggles in the game were long, high shots, as he tended to make himself small and go into the butterfly. More incidentally, Fake Don Brennan on the Belleville broadcast is painfully bad; the BSens had a really strong first period, but were on their heels most of the rest of the game; the first PP unit looked good

Notable Plays
Randell missed the net from the slot (first); Jaros hit the post (first); Murray made a bizarre defensive place that forced Jaros to do some fancy work of his own to make up for it (first); Gagne made a great pass through a defender (nothing came of it, alas; first); Sieloff blocked a shot with his head and was taken off the ice and would miss the all the games I’ve seen since (third); Werek missed the net from the slot (third)

Belleville 1, Toronto 5 (boxscore)

I saw this game after the Binghamton game that follows because AHL Live took almost five days to respond to repeated requests for the video to be posted.

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

The silly second line remained as did the Curse of Randell. Despite Murray’s listing in the top pair he did not get the minutes associated with that (Englund and Jaros played more).

Goals
1. Toronto PP – Randell loses his position and a cross crease pass provides an open net
2. Toronto SH – Jaros briefly stops skating on the backcheck and his man bangs in a nice pass out front
3. Toronto SH – Jaros passes to a player going off the ice, leaving a Marlie wide open to walk in and beat Hammond five-hole
4. McCormick steals the puck and passes to a wide open DiDomenico who has an empty net
5. Toronto – Hammond beat high far side
6. Toronto – O’Brien gets puck watching leaving his man wide open to bang in a rebound

This was a straightforward spanking by the talented Marlies, who ate up the team on special teams (no coincidence the area of the game most influenced by coaching–a problem that goes back to the Luke Richardson era).

Notable Plays
DiDomenico misses the net all alone in front of the net (first); Jaros made a great aerial pass to White (to no result; first); Rodewald fell awkwardly and left the game for awhile (second).

Belleville 3, Binghamton 2 (SO) (boxscore)

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

The first line…what can you say really? Werek and Gagne on the fourth makes no sense either, but at least mercifully Randell is gone. Erkamps, incidentally, didn’t play a shift in the third.

Goals
1. Binghamton – top shelf off a clean face-off win
2. Paul bangs in a loose puck in front (off a play begun by him stealing the puck)
3. Binghamton – floats through a crowd (possibly deflecting off a BSen D)
4. Reinhart bangs in a fantastic pass from Perron
Gagne scored the only goal in the shootout

Notable Plays
Weird sequence where too many men penalty called on Binghamton that’s eventually rescinded (second); O’Brien can’t get a shot on a 2-on-1 (second); Burgdoerfer was hurt in a collision, but stayed in the game (third).

Overall Thoughts
Hardly a perfect sequence of games, but the BSens picked up 5 of 8 points, which is decent given the circumstances. It was great for Hogberg to win both his first two starts this season, while Hammond has become human in his AHL starts. The team struggles to score and while some of that is related to talent, some of it is also coaching decisions.

Clearly I have more games to catch up on (horrible ones from what I hear), but I shall endeavour to get through them as soon as I can. For those who liked the special teams stuff I usually post, I did track it, only removing it here to avoid grinding down the process and over inflating what is already a lengthy post.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)