Belleville 1 Utica 7

I caught this game on replay in the midst of my Punisher binge on Netflix (great show, incidentally). The only feed was the away stream and AHL Live was extra muddy from Utica. Before I get into my feelings, here are the basics (the box score):
Shots: 27-34
PP: 1-7 (included a lengthy 5-on-3)
PK: 3-6 (one of these was cancelled immediately off a faceoff violation)
Goaltender: Danny Taylor who was absolutely awful (he made just 4 key saves); Chris Driedger backed up and should have played at some point, but Kleinendorst refused to pull the veteran

The Goals
1. Utica PP – Taylor beat short side by a one-timer from the top of the circle
2. Utica – Taylor beat high from the top of the slot
3. Utica PP – Murray way out of position leaves the man wide open to bang in the rebound (not sure why Taylor wasn’t pulled after this)
4. Utica – one-timer from just inside the circle
5. Utica – scores on a breakaway
6. PP – Gagne off a nice pass from Chlapik (goes top shelf)
7. Utica – breakway (deke)
8. Utica PP – Sieloff gets puck watching leaving his man open to bang in the rebound

Scoring chances (11): McCormick (x4, pp, shx2), Gagne (x3, ppx2), White, Werek, Murray (pp), Reinhart (pp)

The Roster
Nick Paul and Ben Harpur joined Ottawa and were replaced by now-healthy Christian Jaros and Justin Vaive. Randell and Erkamps remained healthy scratches, Donaghey and Marcus Hogberg were in Brampton (the latter getting his first win and being a big part of it).

The Lines
McCormick-O’Brien-Gagne
Vaive-White-Rodewald
Perron-Chlapik-Werek
Dunn-Reinhart-Ciampini
Chabot-Burgdoerfer
Englund-Jaros
Sieloff-Murray

Vaive barely played, but there wasn’t a regular fill-in for him; Jaros didn’t play much comparatively. Kleinendorst did a little juggling in the third once it was 5-0 (playing Chlapik, Gagne, and Perron more).

Special Teams
Powerplay
McCormick-Reinhart-O’Brien/Chabot-White
Gagne-Chlapik-Rodewald/Murray-Perron (scored)
5-on-3
Gagne-Reinhart-O’Brien/Chabot-White
Gagne-Perron-Rodewald/Murray-Jaros
4-on-4
McCormick-O’Brien/Chabot-Jaros
White-Rodewald/Murray-Chabot
Gagne-Perron/Murray-Chabot
Penalty Kill
McCormick-O’Brien/Sieloff-Jaros
McCormick-O’Brien/Englund-Burgdoerfer
McCormick-O’Brien/Englund-Sieloff (scored on)
Perron-White/Murray-Jaros
Perron-White/Sieloff-Jaros
Perron-White/Englund-Burgdoerfer
Perron-White/Englund-Jaros
McCormick-Rodewald/Murray-Jaros
McCormick-Rodewald/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
McCormick-Rodewald/Englund-Murray (scored on)
White-Rodewald/Murray-Jaros (scored on)

This huge list is due both to experimentation as well as guys being in the penalty box (the BSens took a lot of dumb penalties). One of the notable trends, however, is less and less Burgdoerfer on special teams (he’s completely absent from the PP and little-used on the PK).

Notable Plays
Jaros made a great rush in the first; O’Brien missed the net on a breakaway (the first); Murray hit the post in the third; O’Brien deked out his teammates and then fanned on his shot leading to a partial breakaway the other way (third); former Leaf Sifers attacked Chlapik in the third (forced a fight)

Player Notes
Jaros: didn’t play as much as he normally would; beyond the rush mentioned above his other highlight was a great pass to McCormick in the first resulting in a scoring chance
Murray: doesn’t seem like a good fit on the PK and didn’t accomplish much outside of two shifts in the third (hitting the post and then a scoring chance on the PP)
Englund: had his cloak of invisibility on as I made zero notations for him
Burgdoerfer: not a pretty game for him with a lot of turnovers
Sieloff: took a dumb penalty that resulted in the second Utica goal; otherwise it was a pretty standard game for him
Chabot: carrying around Burgdoerfer doesn’t do his game any favours and I don’t think the current first PP arrangement suits him either–an unremarkable outing (his highlight was a great defensive play in the first)
Vaive: I want him sent back to the E, but that means Randell plays so I’m in a bind
Dunn: dressed in this game, but made no impact on it
Ciampini: see above
Reinhart: Kleinendorst needs to give up playing him with the first powerplay unit; it’s pretty apparently his lousy season in the DEL last year wasn’t a fluke
Perron: did not make much of an impact–seems at his best when paired with Gagne (although oddly I’m not sure those two with Chlapik works)
Werek: he’s now gone pointless in four games and, as I said last time, isn’t a great fit with Chlapik (his points have generally come from banging in rebounds from other shooters)
Chlapik: I’m not sure what it will take to consistently put him with the right players–much like Perron his production jumps with Gagne as they compliment one another; beyond his assist tonight he made a great defensive play late in the second
Rodewald: not his best game–I don’t think he fits well with White as his center (I’d rather see him with Chlapik)–but that wasn’t due to a lack of effort
White: I’m still not sure who the best wingers for him are, but more experimentation is needed
O’Brien: there’s far too much Jimothy in my life–despite 1 point in his last 4 games his minutes are still near the top of the forward heep
McCormick: on the one hand you want to credit him for all the scoring chances, but on the other he needs to finish some of them if he’s going to get all these opportunities–2 goals on the season at this point is not acceptable
Gagne: a funny thing–he’s played more and he’s produced more–I wish Kleinendorst would take the hint for all top prospects! He’s misplaced playing with two shooters (O’Brien and McCormick) however

My primary complaint in this game is leaving Danny Taylor in net–what for? He’s now been awful in three straight starts, that’s far too long for an experienced netminder. Maybe he needs a game in Brampton or to sit for Driedger a few times to get himself straightened out. That said, scoring one goal isn’t enough either, although I think much of that is down to player usage.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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Belleville 6 Lehigh Valley 2

For a game with such a lopsided score this is one the BSens could have easily lost were it not for some spectacular goaltending. Before I get into my observations, here are the basics (the box score):
Shots: 35-46
PP: 1-1
PK: 3-3 (one abbreviated)
Goaltender: Andrew Hammond, who was fantastic (12 key saves); Danny Taylor backed-up while Chris Driedger was scratched and Marcus Hogberg backed-up in Brampton

The Opposition
One of the better teams in the league (9-4-2 coming in), the high flying Flyers dominated much of the game (particularly the second period), but struggling netminders (both played and gave up 3 goals each) along with Hammond’s play were too much to overcome. The team has a BSens’ connection as Phil Varone is on the roster.

The Goals
1. Harpur floats one through a crowd
2. Rodewald bangs in Harpur’s rebound
3. Gagne bangs in Burgdoerfer’s rebound
4. Lehigh – Sieloff passes to the wrong team and they score on the breakaway
5. Lehigh – Sieloff turns it over and the puck is deflected in
6. Gagne scores low, far side in tight
7. PP O’Brien bangs in Chabot’s rebound
8. White with the one-timer via Rodewald on a 2-on-1

Scoring chances (13): Gagne (x3), Rodewald (x2), O’Brien (x2), Harpur, White, Paul, Chlapik, Reinhart, Perron

The Roster
A lot of changes as nearly all players were returned from Ottawa–Rodewald, Paul, and Harpur. These additions meant the scratching of Erkamps (on the blueline), Randell (is this the beginning of him getting Stortini’d?), and the demotion of Donaghey to Brampton.

The Lines
McCormick-O’Brien-Gagne
Paul-White-Rodewald
Perron-Chlapik-Werek
Dunn-Reinhart-Ciampini
Sieloff-Harpur
Chabot-Burgdoerfer
Englund-Murray

The major changes are to the second and third lines; Harpur, who was averaging 28 minutes a night in his previous games, also played a ton, but looked much better.

Special Teams
McCormick-Paul-White/Chabot-O’Brien (scored)
4-on-4
Paul-O’Brien/Chabot-Burgdoerfer
Paul-Rodewald/Murray-Chabot
Reinhart-Ciampini/Englund-Burgdoerfer
Chlapik-Gagne/Murray-Chabot
Penalty Kill
McCormick-Rodewald/Sieloff-Harpur
O’Brien-Perron/Englund-Burgdoerfer
White-Perron/Sieloff-Harpur
McCormick-O’Brien/Sieloff-Harpur
Paul-Rodewald/Sieloff-Harpur
White-Perron/Englund-Harpur
There wasn’t a lot of special teams time, but the main impact on the lineup was Harpur’s presence, who reduced Englund’s time on the PK rotation.

Notable Plays
Chlapik missed the net trying to one-time a pass from Perron on a 2-on-1 in the third; Chabot hurt his hand when hit from behind in the same period, but seemed fine afterwards.

Player Notes
Murray: virtually invisible after getting a hat-trick in the previous game, but he didn’t play much
Burgdoerfer: only thing I noted was a turnover in the third
Englund: also largely invisible (as above I just noted a turnover, albeit in the first)
Sieloff: an ugly game for him as both goals against were directly off terrible turnovers he made
Chabot: picked up points and was generally good overall, albeit lost some ice time due to Harpur’s presence
Harpur: was much better than his previous tour with the team; while he remains lumbering he made much smarter decisions with the puck
Dunn: a non-factor
Ciampini: also invisible
Reinhart: the return of Paul and Rodewald radically cut his ice time and other than his scoring chance wasn’t a factor
Werek: third straight game without a point and doesn’t really mesh well on his current line
Perron: after exploding for three-points he was pretty quiet outside a flurry early in the third
Chlapik: third-line minutes aren’t helping, but when he was allowed to play he was a factor (had a very good third period)
Paul: despite Rodewald’s presence his struggles offensively continue
Rodewald: great game from him–the team has sorely missed him
White: quiet performance and I don’t think he functions that well on Paul’s wing
McCormick: he had three-assists so I’d call that a good night
O’Brien: I sound like a broken record, but he’s not a first-line center; the goal is welcome
Gagne: I was complaining earlier in the year how he needed to play more and we’re seeing the result of that happening (three goals in his last three games)

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

 

Belleville 5 Rochester 4 (OT)

The rematch with the Amerks was an entertaining game to watch (I caught it after the fact). Before I get into my observations, here are the basics (the boxscore):
Shots: 40-23
PP: 0-3
PK: 2-3
Goaltender: Andrew Hammond, who struggled (he made 7 key saves); Chris Driedger backed up, while Danny Taylor was scratched.

The Opposition
Rochester played their backup who, like Hammond, was also guilty of some bad goals. The team was also without veteren blueliner Redmond who was replaced by former Binghamton flameout Conor Allen (who was -3 on the night). So all-in-all, it was a weaker team.

The Goals
1. Chabot one-timer from the dot
2. Rochester – 3-on-2 shoots and scores 5-hole
3. Rochester – odd man rush hits the post and neither Gagne nor Englund can tie-up the man in front who bangs in the loose puck
4. Rochester PP – great pass through the crease beats Hammond 5-hole
5. Murray’s point shot goes in 5-hole (this was originally given to McCormick)
6. Rochester – Hammond beat 5-hole
7. Murray from a terrible angle down low
8. Perron bangs in flubbed Reinhart shot in front
9. Murray tips in Perron’s flip pass

Scoring chances (12): McCormick (x3, pp), Murray (x3), Perron (x2), Chabot, O’Brien (pp), Werek, Ciampini

The Roster
All the injured players remained out and with ECHL callup Walters already returned (I’m not sure what the story behind that is); instead Cody Donaghey was dressed but sat on the bench the entire game (zero shifts).

Lines
McCormick-O’Brien-Gagne
Perron-White-Chlapik
Ciampini-Reinhart-Werek
Dunn-Randell
Englund-Sieloff
Chabot-Burgdoerfer
Murray-Erkamps
Donaghey

This is the identical lineup and, as mentioned, Donaghey did not get a shift. Also of note, Werek took Perron’s spot on the second line early in the game (this helped the latter, not the former).

Special Teams
Powerplay
McCormick-Reinhart-O’Brien/Chabot-White
Gagne-Chlapik-Perron/Chabot-Burgdoerfer
Penalty Kill
McCormick-O’Brien/Sieloff-Englund
Perron-White/Sieloff-Englund
Perron-White/Murray-Englund (scored on)
Perron-White/Murray-Erkamps
Ciampini-Reinhart/Murray-Erkamps (once)

I’m not a big fan of the PP as currently configured–if McCormick and O’Brien are on the powerplay they should be on the second unit, but I don’t know what it will take to get Kleinendorst away from that (he gave up on Werek pretty quickly, but he knows the latter two from coaching them previously). Erkamps returns to the PK rotation, but really the combos are basically the same.

Notable Plays
Despite the huge volume of shots the BSens were guilty of missing open opportunities on numerous occasions (Reinhart in the first, O’Brien in the first and second, and Burgdoerfer and Chabot in the third). We also got the trademarked O’Brien OT maneuver from Burgdoerfer who pulled the puck out of the zone while having offensive pressure because reasons.

Player Notes
Erkamps: picked up his first point of the year and seemed more comfortable 5-on-5 than he has all season
Murray: a non-factor since being recalled from Brampton he exploded for a hat-trick (!); if he can in anyway start to consistently produce I’ll pat Randy Lee on the back for the signing–but one game isn’t quite enough for that
Englund: another day at the office for him
Sieloff: most notable play was taking a head shot from MacWilliams in the third; he’s lucky he was able to continue
Burgdoerfer: hasn’t had a point in five-games, is off the PK, but gets to play with Chabot–makes my head hurt a little
Chabot: pretty much back to form–not only did he get his first 5-on-5 point, but he was dominant and probably played 30 minutes on the night
Dunn: I know he played, but warranted no notations
Ciampini: invisible except for the play leading to the tying goal, so all things considered, that’s not bad
Randell: two of his teammates took nasty hits in the game and his response was… well he didn’t respond (nor did he do anything notable). He’s off the PK though, so that’s something
Werek: I mentioned earlier that he’d regress to the mean and that’s happening in a hurry (being off the PP doesn’t help), with just one assist in his last three games; he isn’t a good fit with Chlapik/White and I hope Kleinendorst doesn’t stick with that line
Reinhart: got off the schneid in the previous game and picked up another point, which is what he’s on the team to do
Perron: was demoted down the lineup, but scoring did wonders for his confidence (he was definitely struggling prior to that goal)
White: is a funny player in that he’s hugely impacted by who he plays with–not a great fit with Werek–my only note for him the entire game was a turnover late in the third
Chlapik: had his point streak broken, but not for a lack of trying–made a great steal in the offense zone in the third to set up Chabot who walked up main street but missed the net; he did the same for Burgdoerfer later in the period who also missed
Gagne: showed off great speed, but the most notable moment was a terrible fall into the end boards in the third (I think the Amerk D might have helped him on his way)–he looked shook up, but was fine and played in OT
O’Brien: a solid game for Jimothy as he picked up another point, but he’s badly misplaced as a top center
McCormick: his assist still has him slightly behind his expected ppg (6 instead of 7) and he’s far behind his goal-scoring pace from both previous seasons (he’s about on par with his rookie year), this despite an enormity of ice time including the top powerplay unit

The BSens did well to come back from a pair of two-goal deficits and bail out the goaltender who has stood tall for them all season. There are still issues on the powerplay, which has only scored in one of the last seven games–the hypodermic needle marked “veteran-I-know” that Kleinendorst uses so often is still an impediment, although spreading out talented prospects (like Gagne) throughout the lineup helps. I was happy to see Erkamps play regularly as it’s simply too much of a burden to play five-defensemen night after night (he might as well play on the PK as well, as the results have been fine when he has). The team definitely needs a different player on White’s line–possibly Gagne, or even someone like Reinhart who can let the other two figure out possession for him.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

 

Belleville 4, Binghamton 3; Belleville 2 Rochester 4

Another two-for-one post from me, with thoughts chronologically, so the Binghamton game first. It wasn’t a particularly emotional game for the teams involved, but for long time BSens fans it had a little extra zest, as Binghamton had been the stomping grounds for Ottawa’s prospects for so long. Before I get into my observations, here are the basics (the box score):
Shots: 28-28
PP: 0-4 (running their total to 0-19 over five games)
PK: 4-5
Goaltender: Andrew Hammond, who was solid if not quite spectacular (I had him making 5 key saves); Danny Taylor backed up while Chris Driedger sat in the pressbox (he’d be sent to Brampton the following day)

The Opposition
Bingo came in with a strong lineup (5-3-1), but their game was hampered by bad goaltending from Ken Appleby who gave up four goals in sixteen shots before being relieved.

The Goals
1. O’Brien scores shortside from a bad angle
2. Binghamton PP – just a great passing play
3. McCormick bangs in a rebound
4. White scores off a great bank-pass by Chlapik with the Devils goalie down and out
5. Dunn centers the puck and O’Brien cleans up the play
6. Binghamton – bounces the puck in off Chabot
7. Binghamton – bang in a rebound (Chabot a bit soft on the back check)

Scoring chances (8): O’Brien (x4), White (x2), McCormick, Dunn

The Roster
Lajoie, Jaros, Blunden, Vaive, and Flanagan still out with injury; Sexton was a surprise scratch (also injured); Paul, Hogberg, Rodewald, and DiDomenico remain in Ottawa (given his production I think the odds of the latter ever returning are virtually zero now); Donaghey remained the lone Senator in Brampton.

Lines
McCormick-O’Brien-Gagne
Chlapik-White-Werek
Perron-Reinhart-Randell
Dunn-Ciampini
Englund-Sieloff
Chabot-Burgdoerfer
Murray-Erkamps

The defense pairings are unchanged from the previous game, but the forward groups are scrambled with Gagne moving off the third line for the first time this year.

Special Teams
Powerplay
McCormick-Reinhart-White/Chabot-Werek
McCormick-Reinhart-White/Murray-Burgdoerfer
Gagne-Chlapik-Perron/Murray-Burgdoerfer
Penalty Kill
McCormick-White/Englund-Sieloff (scored on) – Murray had switched on for Sieloff
Perron-O’Brien/Englund-Burgdoerfer
McCormick-White/Englund-Burgdoerfer
Perron-O’Brien/Murray-Erkamps
McCormick-O’Brien/Englund-Sieloff
Perron-White/Englund-Sieloff
McCormick-O’Brien/Chabot-Burgdoerfer
Perron-White/Englund-Burgdoerfer

Keeping Chlapik off the top powerplay unit remains bizarre to me, but Kleinendorst has been trying to stick to his combinations more throughout games hoping for it to work. Despite all the seeming variety on the PK the defense units were quite stable and the forward personal remained steady as well, just the combos varied.

Notable Plays
Chabot made a nice rush in the first–getting the puck in front to Werek, but he missed the net. Later that period Perron had a great chance but couldn’t get the shot off (something that’s happened to him fairly frequently this season). Speaking of Perron, he went offside on a 2-on-1 vs an empty net.

The game against Rochester saw the exact same lineup–the BSens called up Ryan Walters (no relation to the former NHLer) from ECHL Utah, but he was unable to get there in time. Unlike previous call-up Justin Vaive, Walters is a very productive ECHLer (0.92 PPG) who briefly played in the Belarussian league to start the year. Before my observations, here are the basics (the box score):
Shots: 40-30
PP: 2-6 (one brief)
PK: 5-5 (including a two minute 5-on-3)
Goaltender: Taylor got the start and his struggles continued (he made 7 key saves); Hammond backed up while Driedger played (and won) his game with Brampton.

The Opposition
The Amerks are a veteran team and (on-paper) better than the BSens (arriving with a 6-4-1 record). The team has a couple of productive rookies to go along with solid goaltending.

The Goals
1. Rochester – White turns it over in the neutral zone leading to a breakaway
2. PP Reinhart bangs in a shot from the point
3. Rochester – screened shot from a bad angle is deflected in
4. Rochester – Sieloff gets undressed and Taylor is beat on a bad angle
5. Rochester SH – Perron turnover leads to a breakaway
6. PP Gagne bangs in Chlapik’s rebound

Scoring chances (11): Reinhart (x4, pp), Gagne (x2, pp), O’Brien (x2), Perron, Burgdoerfer (pp), Erkamps

The Roster
No changes from the previous game, although it was clearly intended that Walter would be the twelfth forward.

Lines
McCormick-O’Brien-Gagne
Chlapik-White-Werek
Perron-Reinhart-Randell
Dunn-Ciampini
Englund-Sieloff
Chabot-Burgdoerfer
Murray-Erkamps

These are the same lines as the previous game. Of note, besides taking an awful penalty in the third, Randell was basically invisible and part of that was him playing less, so that made me happy.

Special Teams
Powerplay
McCormick-Reinhart-O’Brien/Chabot-White (scored)
Gagne-Chlapik-Perron/Murray-Burgdoerfer (scored)
Penalty Kill
McCormick-O’Brien/Englund-Sieloff
Perron-White/Englund-Burgdoerfer
McCormick/Englund-Sieloff
White/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer

This is the least amount of variation this season (given a reasonable number of opportunities). The second unit is what used to be the third line although, again, I have to wonder why Chlapik is getting second unit time.

Notable Plays
Both Chabot and White hit the post (both in the second period, the latter on the powerplay). Chlapik had a couple of nice rushes (one in the first and one in the third), but neither resulted in shots (Gagne did the same thing in the second). He (Chlapik) did set-up Werek nicely in the second, but he shot the puck over the net from in close. McCormick missed the net on a 2-on-1 shorthanded in the second. Taylor almost repeated his mistake of mishandling the puck behind the net and getting scored on in the third (something he did in the 6-1 loss to Charlotte).

Player Notes
Erkamps: had what I believe is his first scoring chance of the season; seems largely removed from the PK but over the two games was adequate 5-on-5 (no notable snafus)
Murray: only negative notations from me (including a couple of turnovers and a bad penalty against Binghamton); did pick up an assist
Burgdoerfer: has had his PK time cut and on the whole made little impact in either game (without Lajoie or Chabot setting him up he’s virtually invisible on the PP)
Sieloff: played a ton, mostly within expectations (wasn’t as good against Rochester)
Englund: sometimes played entire PK shifts; mostly solid play, albeit late in the third against Binghamton he passed to the wrong team and Hammond had to bail him out
Chabot: clearly still recovering, but was starting to look like himself against Rochester–when he’s 100% he’ll go back to dominating; leads the team in PP points
Dunn: picked up a rare point against Binghamton, but returned to invisibility against Rochester (where he engaged in a pointless fight in the third)
Randell: removed from special teams and, with Kleinendorst rotating four lines, has seen his minutes cut; only notable moment was creating a 5-on-3 against by attempting to draw the Amerks into an off-setting penalty and failing
Ciampini: while he’s had some decent games this season he qualified for zero notations through both games (generous of me as he had a couple of turnovers that his teammates immediately bailed him out on)
Perron: I think there are some confidence issues going on for him as he made some uncharacteristic flubs in both games
Werek: had his opportunities, but struggled to get the puck on goal in both games
Reinhart: after 8-straight games without a point picked up his second goal of the season and also had a lot of quality chances–maybe this will be a lightbulb moment for him
White: has looked better and better with each game; definitely a shoot-first player at this level and his game has gone up a notch playing with Chlapik
Chlapik: taken off the top PP unit, but managed to get points in both games; fantastic hands and plays hard at both ends of the ice; took a nasty high hit late in the game against Rochester, but seemed alright afterwards
McCormick: after playing an absurd amount on the powerplay he picked up his first PP point against Rochester; the goal against Binghamton is nice, but he’s still playing way too much in an offensive role
O’Brien: had his first two-goal game since March of 2016 (that’s more than a full-season ago); as a first-line center he’s getting opportunities, but he’s not a puck-distributor nor possession driver, so ultimately I think it’s counter productive
Gagne: finally getting shifts on the PP unit, albeit the second, and picked up a goal in that capacity vs Rochester; he’s looked much more confident of late and his skating has definitely improved; I’ve come to like him a lot and the fact Kleinendorst has put him on the first line suggests he has his coaches confidence as well

While TOI is, in some respects, getting sorted out 5-on-5, I still think there are tweaks needed on special teams. The primary problem for the team in their loss was, however, goaltending. Maybe we’ll see Driedger get a start instead of Taylor (who has already lost the starting job to Hammond), but time will tell.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville Senators News

Ottawa Senators Official NHL Headshots

With the big trade for Matt Duchene normally I’d be the one kicking and screaming about losing a high end prospect (Shane Bowers) and picks (a 1st and a 3rd). In this case, at least with the prospect, I’m content. I wasn’t a big fan of the selection, who I thought was an uninspired pick with a low ceiling (time will tell, of course). I do miss the picks, but the org has always been very free in dolling them out, so it’s to be expected. The most interesting decision involves Andrew Hammond, where Pierre Dorion pulled the reverse of what Toronto did in the Dion Phaneuf trade (when Matt Frattin was included, but just his salary, as Ottawa loaned him back to the Marlies immediately). Initially I’d thought the team was making room for it’s two prospects (Hogberg and Driedger), but now I think it’s more likely that the Swede is going to be loaned back to Linkoping or elsewhere in the SHL, while Driedger goes down to Brampton (unless they trade Danny Taylor–a savvy move in my opinion, assuming he can be moved).

For the NHL side of the deal I suggest reading Nichols, whose opinions are largely my own–the Sens are merely buying another season (perhaps) of Cup relevance before their aging lineup starts to drag them down.

travisyost

Noted comic book fan Travis Yost looks at something Micah Blake McCurdy studied back in 2014, which is how long does it take for a team’s performance to settle to show what they truly are? McCurdy felt that 25 games was the point of no return, whereas Travis is roughly at 30. These are worth keeping in mind when it comes to early returns for every team.

belleville sens

For those who missed it I did a very crunchy breakdown of the BSens month of September (here and here). Right now the team is in the midst of injury troubles on the blueline and a coach struggling to find the right forward combinations (Kleinendorst suffers from a very common coaching affliction, which is an over dedication to veterans and perceived “safe” players).

The team is near the veteran contract limit: Danny Taylor, Andrew Hammond, Mike Blunden, and Max Reinhart quality (Chris DiDomenico‘s Italian league games don’t seem to count, while Tyler Randell was two games under the limit when signed). Both Jim O’Brien and Ethan Werek qualify as veterans, but the Sens seemingly have dodged the limit by signing them to AHL-deals. The PTO rules, incidentally, are pretty loose, as each such contract covers 25 games played and a player can go through two of those before the team has to make a decision (so through two-thirds of the season).

As a note, the rules to be considered a rookie if you are European are a bit wonky:
-cut off is 26th birthday by Sept.15th
-less than 100 European Elite League games
The latter is part of the reason you don’t see a lot of European pros come to the AHL

Like many cities after the fact, some in Belleville are concerned about the deal that was struck to bring the AHL franchise to the city:

“I felt the deal struck with Melnyk wasn’t the best deal available to the city,” Sandison said. “Now, we own nothing and we loaned Melynk $6.5 million USD. I believe the negotiating team exercised poor judgement and made a deal that shouldn’t have been made.”

Coun. Paul Carr said he relied on the recommendation made by the negotiating team which included Mayor Taso Christopher and city director Mark Fluhrer. “Those negotiations were proceeding and there were some positive elements to it, but that deal fell through,” Carr said.

“At that point, there was no firm endorsement required,” said Carr, “That deal never got to the point where it was a take it or leave it. The first one never got to a point where we had to make a final decision because the party [Grant Kook’s Westcap Management Ltd] backed out.”

There’s no going back for Belleville at this point, as they’ve given the Sens the arena rent-free for three years, but it’s yet another indication that public funding for sports teams is virtually never a winning formula for tax payers.

freeagent

Overage CHLer Max Fortier was signed by Columbus. He was expected to be drafted in both 2016 and this year, but his size (5’10) proved too much of an impediment.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 1 Charlotte 2

With the trade of Andrew Hammond the logjam in goal isn’t what it was, but I’ll discuss that in detail elsewhere. On Saturday the BSens had their re-match with the talented Checkers and ultimately the game was won by the better team (it’s very reminiscent of the 3-2 shootout loss to Providence–blowing a lead late by a team that badly out-shot them). Before I get into my observations, here are the basics (box score):
Shots: 22-35
PP: 0-3
PK: 3-4
Goaltender: Hammond who was excellent (9 key saves); Danny Taylor backed up–soon to be the starter again given the trade; both Chris Driedger and Marcus Hogberg were scratched

The Opposition
Unchanged other than the goaltender; Stortini remained scratched, which was appropriate

The Goals
1. Werek tips in a high flip pass from White
2. Charlotte (PP) – soft goal from Hammond up high on a tough angle
3. Charlotte – Chabot baubles the puck at the blueline leading to a breakaway that scores five-hole on a deke

Scoring chances (7): O’Brien (x2, sh), Chlapik (x2, pp), Werek, White, Gagne (pp), Murray hit the post

The Roster
Blunden, Flanagan, Jaros, Lajoie, and Vaive remained out with injuries and Dunn as a healthy scratch–that is to say, the lineup was unchanged other than the goaltender.

Lines
Paul-O’Brien-Sexton
McCormick-White-Werek
Perron-Chlapik-Gagne
Ciampini-Reinhart-Randell
Englund-Sieloff
Chabot-Burgdoerfer
Murray-Erkamps

The top two lines changed, with Sexton joining O’Brien and Paul, and Werek joining McCormick and White (neither change had a positive impact). The defense pairs were scrambled and I’m not entirely clear why–my guess is that the changes were largely in an attempt to help Chabot, but it did not work.

Special Teams
Powerplay
Paul-White-Sexton/Chabot-Perron
Reinhart-Chlapik-Gagne/Murray-Burgdoerfer
Penalty Kill
McCormick-Sexton/Sieloff-Englund
McCormick-Sexton/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Paul-O’Brien/Murray-Erkamps
McCormick-White/Sieloff-Englund
Paul-Sexton/Chabot-Englund
Paul-Sexton/Murray-Burgdoerfer (scored on)
White-O’Brien/Englund-Murray

Taking Chlapik off the top PP unit was an odd choice, but it’s been apparent for the last several games that Kleinendorst has no idea what to do with the man advantage and is trying anything to get it going (the team is 0-15 the last four games).

Notable Plays
I got a sense of why Randy Lee was so eager to sign Jordan Murray at last, as the blueliner threw a couple of big hits in the game (there wasn’t much physicality in the game overall); Chlapik made a great end-to-end rush on the powerplay in the third which was followed up by him giving Murray a great opportunity (he hit the post); with the net empty both White and Murray made saves as Charlotte failed to score on three attempts.

Player Notes
Erkamps: played more five-on-five than has been typical; a mixed bag (my primary note was a turnover in the third)
Murray: outside the post he hit on the PP was most notable for a couple of turnovers and a big hit
Englund: his usual self–didn’t earn a positive or negative notation
Chabot: is still nowhere near as good as he was prior to the injury, although having no support doesn’t make it any easier
Burgdoerfer: usual mixed bag–notable turnover (something routine for him) along with a good defensive play
Sieloff: solid defensively and picked up a rare assist
Randell: played in this game–who knows why?
Reinhart: his two points this season came in the same game–it’s getting bleak for the veteran who is supposed to score
Ciampini: not a great game for him–turnovers in the first and nothing accomplish offensively
Gagne: finally got a regular rotation on the powerplay, but still gets limited usage given his production
Perron: see above–I’m not sure what it’s going to take for Kleinendorst to let their line play more
Chlapik: as the BSens production has gone down the drain the Czech rookie has played less–go figure
McCormick: solid on the PK and thankfully removed from the PP (a first), but essentially a non-factor
White: still hasn’t gelled with linemates, but on his own remains a threat
Werek: scored a goal, so still the best–right?
Paul: has that cloak of invisibility on–since Rodewald’s recall he’s been struggling offensively
O’Brien: thankfully off the powerplay, but still plays way, way, way too much
Sexton: another player looking for a good fit–no scoring chances in two straight games

Some of the problems confronting the BSens are simply a matter of talent–the lack of puck-movers from the blueline given the injuries. The forward lines need work–I like the third line, but it should be playing more, and the players currently in the top-six are not a good mix and need to be shifted around. I’d staple O’Brien and McCormick to the third line where they belong, but it’s unrealistic for me to expect Kleinendorst to do that (at least with both).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

 

Belleville 4 Syracuse 3 (SO), Belleville 1 Charlotte 6

I’ve been sick this week so I’m a bit late in putting this out. Before I get into the games just an observation: with AHL mud-vision (aka AHL Live) it’s almost incredibly difficult to read the numbers on the BSens home jersey.

The home opener for Belleville was attended by Pierre Dorion and Randy Lee and this had an impact on the style of play for the BSens. Through nine road games the team wasn’t particularly physical and barely fought (and the game following this one returned to that pattern), but against Syracuse (the team they’d brawled against back on October 13th in a game that, outside of that, wasn’t particularly physical), the silliness was on full display, the chippy play resulting in two of their better defensemen getting hurt (Christians Jaros and Maxime Lajoie; also call-up Justin Vaive). Did the physicality play into the result of the game? No, but it certainly hurt the team in their game against Charlotte.

Before my observations here are the basics (the box score is here):
Shots: 20-26
PP: 1-8
PK: 2-4 (including one in OT)
Goaltender: Andrew Hammond (who made 4 key saves by my count); Danny Taylor backed-up and I think it’s pretty clear that he’s lost his #1 spot; both Chris Driedger and Marcus Hogberg were healthy and sat–one or both should be back in the ECHL sooner than later

The Opposition
The Crunch have a more talented roster, which includes ex-BSens Jason Akeson and Cory Conacher. Adam Erne was able to get many of the BSens off their game.

The Goals
1. Syracuse (PP) – Reinhart gets puck watching and leaves his man wide open for a cross-ice pass
2. Chlapik creates a turnover and Perron finishes off a nice pass from Gagne
3. Syracuse – Harpur pushes his man down and skates past his own goal, leaving a man open for the rebound
4. (PP) Lajoie shot gets to the line and Chlapik bangs it in
5. Syracuse (PP) O’Brien is asleep on the backcheck leaving a man wide-open for a tap-in
6. Pretty three-way passing play that Werek finishes off (starts with a Paul steal)
Shootout
Sexton and Chlapik are both stopped, but Gagne scores on a big slapper to win it

Scoring chances (11): White (x3, pp), Werek (x2), Chlapik (pp), Perron, Gagne, Lajoie, Paul, Randell; Reinhart hit the post in the third

The Roster
Blunden, Flanagan, and Chabot remained out with injuries; Ciampini was also out with an undisclosed injury; DiDomenico and Rodewald remained with Ottawa; Dunn and Erkamps were healthy scratches. Colin White played in his first game (I didn’t like his line, but liked him).

The Lines
Werek-Paul-O’Brien
McCormick-White-Sexton
Perron-Chlapik-Gagne
Vaive-Reinhart-Randell
Sieloff-Harpur
Englund-Jaros
Lajoie-Burgdoerfer

Vaive was hurt very early in the game, which understandably had little impact. Jaros was hurt in the second (from his reaction it looked like a concussion, but I’m no doctor), while I didn’t see Lajoie’s injury (there were a lot of dangerous hits in the game–yet another reason why that style of play is counterproductive). A hapless Harpur probably played 30 minutes.

Special Teams
Powerplay
White-Chlapik-Sexton/Lajoie-Burgdoerfer (scored)
Perron-Paul-Werek/Harpur-Jaros
Gagne-Paul-Werek/Harpur-Jaros
Perron-Paul-Gagne/Englund-O’Brien
Perron-Paul-Gagne/Harpur-O’Brien
White-Chlapik-Sexton/Harpur-Burgdoerfer
Perron-Chlapik-Gagne/Harpur-O’Brien
Perron-Paul-Gagne/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
4-on-4
White-Sexton/Lajoie-Burgdoerfer
Perron-Chlapik/Englund-Sieloff
Perron-Chlapik/Lajoie-Burgdoerfer
OT
Gagne-Chlapik/Harpur
Paul-O’Brien/Burgdoerfer
Penalty Kill
McCormick-Sexton/Harpur-Burgdoerfer
Paul-O’Brien/Harpur-Sieloff
McCormick-Sexton/Jaros-Burgdoerfer
Perron-Reinhart/Jaros-Burgdoerfer (scored on)
McCormick-White/Englund-Burgdoerfer
Perron-O’Brien/Sieloff-Jaros (scored on)
Paul-O’Brien/Englund-Sieloff
4-on-3 in OT
McCormick/Sieloff-Harpur
Sexton/Sieloff-Harpur

The injuries made for varied combinations, although the struggles on the powerplay also caused experimentation. The main PP drag was Harpur, who looked clueless all night.

Play of Note
The Harpur boondoggles were many tonight and verged on the comical, but my favourite was in OT when he went full Jim O’Brien and, with the offensive pressure on, skated out of his own zone to…throw the puck away and make a change.

Normally I’ve done player assessment for each game, but I’ll do one for both at the bottom to keep this a bit more condensed and less cluttered.

Between games the BSens signed Werek to an AHL-deal. Given the relative lack of forward depth I don’t hate the move, but he’s yet another impediment to playing prospects more.

Friday’s game against a talented Charlotte lineup was a straight-up spanking (the most lopsided loss of the year). The BSens spent most of their time running around in their own zone and fell behind early due to questionable goaltending, but before my specific observations here are the basics (the box score is here):
Shots: 29-40
PP: 0-2*
PK 4-4
AHL website has just 1 PP for the team, but there were 2
Goaltenders: Taylor got the start, but struggled (2 key saves) and was eventually replaced by Hammond who was excellent in the third (6 big saves); I’ve seen enough of Taylor now to know that, at least this season, he’s struggling a lot with his general positioning, particularly high glove side; both Driedger and Hogberg sat in the pressbox.

The Opposition
The Checkers are the highest scoring team in the AHL and the score could have been much higher if they’d kept the peddle to the metal. The only BSens connection on the roster is Zack Stortini, who was the healthy scratch he always should be.

The Goals
1. Charlotte – a bad goal as a point shot floats in far side
2. Charlotte – Englund caught puck-watching, leaving his man alone in front to bang in a pass from behind the net
3. Charlotte – breakaway goal off a bad change
4. Chlapik deflects a pass in front of the net that gets poked in by O’Brien
5. Charlotte – White goes for the puck and misses, leaving his man open in front to bang in the puck (some criticism for Sexton as well, who didn’t switch checks to tie up the only man in front)
6. Charlotte – Taylor gives it away behind the net and can’t get functionally back in the net
7. Charlotte – bangs in a rebound

Scoring chances (8): White (x3, pp), Ciampini (x2), O’Brien, McCormick, Sexton

The Roster
Jaros, Lajoie, and Vaive joined Blunden and Flanagan on the injured side; Harpur was recalled to Ottawa; both Chabot and Ciampini returned to the lineup, as did Erkamps and Murray. Dunn remained a healthy scratch.

Lines
McCormick-White-Sexton
Werek-Paul-O’Brien
Perron-Chlapik-Gagne
Ciampini-Reinhart-Randell
Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Chabot-Murray
Englund-Erkamps

Despite the score Kleinendorst did not change things up much at all and while you’d expect the hot line (the third line) to play more…nope, they didn’t. On defense Erkamps was used sparingly which, in a game like this, seems pointless.

Special Teams
Powerplay
McCormick-Paul-Sexton/Chabot-Chlapik
Werek-White-O’Brien/Murray-Burgdoerfer
White-Paul-Sexton/Chabot-Chlapik
McCormick-O’Brien-Werek/Murray-Burgdoerfer
Penalty Kill
Paul-O’Brien/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer
Paul-O’Brien/Sieloff-Englund
McCormick-Sexton/Englund-Murray
McCormick-Sexton/Chabot-Murray
McCormick-White/Chabot-Murray
Ciampini-Randell/Chabot-Murray
Perron-O’Brien/Englund-Erkamps

The whistles were largely away for this one. What puzzles me here is that after infrequent attempts in the Syracuse game, Kleinendorst took both Perron and Gagne off the powerplay, despite better production than some of his favourites. I do think having forwards play the point at this stage makes some sense. On the PK I was surprised not to see Erkamps as a regular part of the rotation (as he was in the October 13th game against Syracuse)–why not play him where he can function when the defense is so depleted? The counter argument would be that they didn’t give up a powerplay goal.

Notable Play
Not much to look at here (it was not a particularly engaging game), but there was a great rush by Chlapik late in the first that sadly lead to nothing.

Player Notes (for both games)
Erkamps: looked pretty lost in the game against Charlotte, but didn’t play a whole lot
Murray: when he’d played previously he played a lot–Kleinendorst was a more conservative with him, but he didn’t do anything significant (not sure why he was on the PK)
Englund: normal games from him; fought Adam Erne when he hurt Vaive, which didn’t deter Erne from being a pest
Harpur: was awful in the Syracuse game–no idea what to do with the puck, but Kleinendorst kept putting him on the ice
Sieloff: didn’t stand out positively or negatively–his usual standard of play
Burgdoerfer: usual mix of positives and negatives (his turnover ratio is pretty high for someone with this much experience); the BSens broadcast crew love him
Chabot: the rust was very apparent against Charlotte, as his impact was as minimal as I’ve seen it
Lajoie: I think he should play more, albeit that’s not easy when you’re injured; before he was hurt continued to make intelligent plays with the puck
Jaros: I felt the pain seeing him leave the ice for the dressing room; he does so much for the team, albeit there have been some struggles on the PK
Randell: wasn’t that involved in the chippy game in Syracuse where he’s supposed to protect the important players on his team, but managed to take a dumb penalty against the Checkers–utterly useless (although the Belleville broadcast team can’t help but pump his tires)
Reinhart: not only is he in the dog house, but he looks miserable whenever the camera focuses in on him; very Jekyll and Hyde (hits the post late in the third against Syracuse, whereas in the first his lazy D is part of the first goal against)
Vaive: for the minute or so he played he was just as useless as he was the previous games
Ciampini: I’ve warmed to him–he’s pretty consistent in getting scoring chances in limited duty–more of a shooter than passer though
Gagne: what’s it going to take to get him permanently on the powerplay rotation? I’m lost on Kleinendorst’s hesitation
Perron: see the above; clearly there’s trust issues for the coach
Chlapik: it’s a puzzle: when he was making plays and not getting results at the start of the season, he played a ton–now that he’s getting results, he’s playing less
White
: plenty of jump in his game and he had the most scoring chances in both games, but I think he’s hampered by teammates he’s not gelling with (McCormick in particular)
McCormick: the guy who gives the coach and Randy Lee wet dreams, he’s still playing way too much and in scoring roles that aren’t suited to him
O’Brien: a coach K crush–he’d been kept off the powerplay earlier in the season, but now we’re seeing him there as well; he made a nice pass for the Werek goal in the Syracuse game and cleaned up the garbage for Chlapik in Charlotte, but this isn’t a sign of offensive prowess, just a result of playing a ridiculous amount
Werek: basically invisible, but he did score once, so there’s that
Sexton: speaking of invisible, not much action from Sexton, who doesn’t seem to function well with White (put him with Paul or back with Chlapik perhaps?)
Paul: still misses Rodewald and while his work on the PK has been fine his offensive game has largely disappeared (the exception is the play leading to the Werek goal)

I wasn’t particularly happy with either game–the chippy one against Syracuse, despite the win, ultimately hurt the team–while the second was a direct result of both the player losses due to injury and recalls. Kleinendorst continues to frustrate in his reluctance to trust most of the younger players such that middling veterans get far more ice time than makes any sense. Signing players like O’Brien and Werek just gives him more excuses to hesitate in trusting younger ones. That said, he showed the same tendency last season and overcame it, so there’s a reason to hope. On the goaltending side the alarm bells are ringing for Danny Taylor–the team also needs to find a place for Driedger to play.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)