Belleville 5, Grand Rapids 3

It was another entertaining game last night as the BSens continue to outscore opponents to win. One of the concerns I had for the team coming into the season was their soft defense (especially given call-ups), but scoring at this pace means they can overcome that weakness.

Belleville 5, Grand Rapids 3
Shots: 27-34
PP: 1-3
PK: 4-5
Goaltender: Mike McKenna (31-34)
Paul (Rodewald, Batherson) (pp)
Tambellini (Beauchemin, Percy)
Percy (Tambellini, Rodewald)
Sieloff (Balisy, Sexton) (sh)
Balisy (Sexton, Sieloff)

Context
The Griffins arrived with a 2-4-0 record, but were coming off a win over Chicago. Regular starter Harri Sateri was in net (as he has been for all but one game), and he’s struggled all season, with just one game at a .900 save percentage. The team features former BSen (and first-round pick) Matt Puempel as well as failed first-rounder Dylan McIlrath.

Lines
The second line was fixed (Balisy moved up, LaBate moved to the fourth line, and Beauchemin moved up to the third), we also saw Leier scratched for the little used Scarfo.
Balcers-Paul-Batherson
Carey-Balisy-Sexton
Tambellini-Beauchemin-Rodewald
Scarfo-LaBate-Gagne

The downgrade between Chlapik to Paul remains apparent, because while the first line had chances they didn’t dominate possession the same way they normally do. The aforementioned changes, however, really helped the second and third lines and that shows up on the score sheet.

With Wolanin called up to Ottawa Murray was moved up to the first-pairing (!) and Sieloff came off the bottom rotation to play on the second.
Murray-Burgdoerfer
Sieloff-Percy
Englund-Bergman

I mentioned on Twitter prior to the game that I thought the top-pairing was going to struggle defensively and, indeed, they were on-ice for two of the three goals against (and largely responsible for both of them). I’m more than a little lost on the obvious solution with this kind of lineup: move Percy up to the top unit, shift Bergman to the second, and rotate Englund and Murray as a bottom or mixed pair.

Special Teams
After not scoring on the PP in the previous game the unit produced again. Sexton remains off the powerplay and I see no reason for him not to be on the second unit (at least). In terms of changes, the absence of Wolanin saw Percy move up to the top unit while Carey was added to the second.

The PK continues its horrendous streak of giving up a powerplay goal every single game. These are the current forward rotations:
Carey-LaBate
Balisy-Sexton
Beauchemin-Rodewald

Sexton was a very good penalty killer last season, so his addition makes a lot of sense, but Carey‘s inclusion seems to follow what Mann was doing with Chlapik and Balcers earlier in the season (more ice time for top players). This change seems to have hurt Rodewald the most, as he used to be part of the top duo.

On defense the norm remains Sieloff-Burgdoerfer, but the latter took a lot of penalties and was replaced by Percy. Oddly, the second pairing now seems to be Englund-Bergman (rather than having Percy play when there isn’t a penalty to one of the top two). Englund is an atrocious penalty killer (link above), so removing him would help the PK quite a bit (he was, indeed, on-ice for the goal against).

Other Notes
-Harri Sateri gave up a couple of genuinely bad goals (Sieloff‘s comes to mind)
Balisy was stopped on a penalty shot
Murray was guilty of a horrible turnover late in the first, but was fortunate not to pay for it
Rodewald badly flubbed a 2-on-1 in the second (no shot and couldn’t complete the pass); I’ve mentioned repeatedly that he’s not a playmaker and in scenarios like that he should simply shoot the puck
-I’ve been impressed with Beauchemin, who is gradually outplaying the other extraneous forwards (already ahead of CiampiniScarfo, and Leier)
-For general interest I posted an article yesterday looking at the struggles of sport in the current day and what might be behind that

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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