Belleville 2, Laval 3; Belleville 3, Toronto 1

The BSens continue to tread water in the second half of the season, losing to the very beatable Laval and then winning against one of the best teams in the AHL. I did like the trade for Ville Pokka, albeit that it’s too late and the Sens have a long track record of abandoning assets like him in the off-season.

Belleville 2, Laval 3
boxscore
Shots: 27-27
PP: 0-6
PK: 3-3
Scoring chances: 9
Key saves: 5
The Goals
1. Rodewald tips in Murray’s shot (the play started with great work by Chlapik)
2. Laval SH – 2-on-1 keeps and scores (the odd-man rush because none of the forwards held back to cover Chlapik’s point)
3. Laval – Dunn stops skating and his check is wide open to bang in a centering pass
4. Laval SH – 3-on-2 scores from the slot
5. Gagne steals the puck and scores from in close

Notables: Sexton hits the post with an empty net (first); Sexton misses the net from the slot (first); great cross-ice backhand pass by Chlapik (first);Ciampini boarded (second; no call–crowd was gasping, but he kept playing); 2-on-1 no shot (second; McCormick can’t make a pass or shoot); Paul with a great chance off a rebound but can’t put it on net (second; a difficult play in this case); Chlapik hits the post (third); Chlapik set-up a couple of the scoring chances above with great passes.

After the first short-handed goal against Kleinendorst flipped which PP unit was first and second for the next few reps, which accomplished nothing (the second–now first–unit generated zero offense and the first–now second–gave up another shorty anyway). It’s a good example of Kleinendorst’s reactionary defense-first approach even when the team needs a goal.

Belleville 3 Toronto 1
boxscore
Shots: 25-26
PP: 0-3
PK: 3-3
Scoring chances: 10
Key saves: 3
The Goals
1. Randell scores on a nice feed to the slot from Englund
2. Sexton tips in Chlapik’s shot
3. Toronto – Rodewald lost in outer space as a wide open Marlie scores on a one-timer from the top of the circle
4. O’Brien scores on the empty-net

Notable plays: Gagne gets run over (first; he was fine); Englund misses an empty-net (second); O’B falls on a 2-on-1 (second).

AHL Live crashed for about three and a half minutes of the first period (I missed zero BSen shots or special teams play). This is the second game in a row in Belleville where there has been a streaming issue (albeit a shorter one than the last game against Toronto where half a period was lost). I’m not sure what the issue is, but at least it didn’t drag on as long.

Taylor had very little to do this game and in general has benefited from much better defensive play the last few games (the BSens used to give up a ton of shots, but have only given up over thirty once in the last fifteen).

As for the lineup, the newly acquired Ville Pokka played and did not disappoint. He shoots the puck a lot and can move the puck, which are two qualities lacking on the Sens blueline (“gritty” players like Englund, Sieloff, and Burgdoerfer have struggled all season to assist both the transition and possession). Other changes included Blunden returning from suspension (he wasn’t missed), White coming back from Ottawa (a welcome return), with McCormick going back up. It’s worth pointing out how well the team plays in the absence of Max McCormick: 3-0-0, +5 in goal differential, and a sparkling 87.5% on the PK. As I’ve said ad nauseum for years: McCormick is a decent third-line AHL forward who can do spot duty on the second line–that is it. When I see comments like this it’s either from old schoolers who think it’s twenty years ago or younger fans who let isolated plays and confirmation bias sway them. The numbers–and performance–doesn’t lie.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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