Belleville 1, Toronto 2 (SO); Belleville 1, Toronto 5

The BSens lost back-to-back games against the talented Marlies over the weekend, something that should cause considerable concern if Randy Lee and the other people involved with the team want them to make the playoffs (something I think is likely). The addition of a broken down Chris Kelly didn’t help, nor the returns from Ottawa in the second game, but before I get into more specifics we’ll go game-by-game and start with the basics (the box score):
Shots: 27-32
PP: 0-2
PK: 3-4
Goaltender: Danny Taylor got the start and despite putting up good numbers was a beneficiary of his team playing two very good periods and not forcing him to make many key saves (I had him at 3 key saves); Chris Driedger backed him up.

The Opposition
Toronto is a very good team with an excellent record, but for two periods they played Belleville’s game–if you didn’t know any better you’d think they were evenly matched. The Marlies made adjustments and in the third and outshot the BSens 16-4 with that territorial domination continuing for the most part in the second game.

The Goals
1. Toronto PP – Perron gets puck-watching allowing the open man to bang in a rebound
2. Marlies leave the puck for the wrong team and Reinhart finds a wide open Chlapik who makes no mistake in the slot
Taylor was easily beat by both shooters in the shootout, as for the BSens:
Reinhart – stopped going 5-hole
Gagne – tries to deke and gets pokechecked

Scoring chances (7): Kelly (x2), Chlapik, Murray, Reinhart, Ciampini, Rodewald

The Roster
Chris Kelly was signed to a PTO (he’d been skating in Ottawa since getting cut by Edmonton), while Maxime Lajoie returned from injury and Justin Vaive dressed (for whatever reason); scratched was Vincent Dunn (earmarked for Brampton if the roster remains stable) and Macoy Erkamps (who was sent to Brampton subsequently); Jim O’Brien was out after taking a stick to the face in the previous game (joining Blunden, Flanagan, and Sexton on the injured side).

The Lines

If you’re asking why McCormick is still on the first line then I refer you to him still being on the first powerplay unit, which is to say: who knows? Luke Richardson used to do the same on the PP, but at least didn’t shove him into the top line this often. Chlapik on the fourth line is frustrating, but is not the first time Kleinendorst has done this to him (he also was in the 7-4 loss to Springfield; and no, scoring a goal didn’t change things for him the next game). Early to midway through the second Chlapik replaced Randell on the third line, but was slid back to the fourth in the third.

Special Teams
Power Play
Penalty Kill
Perron-McCormick/Sieloff-Burgdoerfer (scored on)

Who needs to score right? Put McCormick in every combination! Why he played half of OT is just another one of those mysteries (for those counting he has 2 goals against goaltenders in 19 games). Despite all the seeming PK variation just seven players account for the bulk of the ice time.

Notable Plays
Chlapik made a great pass to Vaive in the first, but the lumbering ECHLer couldn’t get his stick on the puck; credit to McCormick who made a great pass in the first to Perron which went nowhere. As you can see, not a lot of notable plays.

I’ll save player notes for after the game #2 stuff.

The following afternoon Belleville received the thumping I’d anticipated for their first game, this despite an injection of talent from the NHL. Before comments, here are the basics (the box score):
Shots: 29-39
PP: 0-4
PK: 4-5 (includes a lengthy 5-on-3)
Goaltender: Driedger got the start and is probably still having nightmares because of it, despite playing very well (twelve key saves by my count, despite giving up 4 goals); Taylor backed up; Andrew Hammond was reassigned by Colorado so will be back in the picture for the team’s next game.

The Goals
1. Toronto – Ciampini late on the backcheck and his man scores on a one-timer from the bottom of the circle
2. Toronto – Paul gets puck-watching and his man bangs in the puck
3. Toronto – Werek falls asleep positionally and his man scores from the slot
4. Toronto PP – tip-in (Englund facing the wrong way to take the man)
5. Gagne scores high with a wrist shot (this via the very briefly reconstituted Gagne-Chlapik-Perron line)
6. Toronto – empty net (Murray baubles the puck at the blueline)

Scoring chances (9): Gagne (x2, pp), Rodewald (x2), McCormick, Jaros, Chlapik, Perron, Murray

The Roster
With Thomas Chabot and Nick Paul returned from Ottawa there was some shuffling–Vaive was scratched and I think Lajoie was out because of injury, but I didn’t hear anything one way or another when I was catchign up on the game (I can’t imagine he’d be scratched in favour of Murray, but the possibility remains).

The Lines

Despite all the changes we know who the top left-winger is. Chlapik remained on the fourth line to start, but once the score got out of hand Kleinendorst was forced to play him more (Kelly slid down to make room for him). Poor Chabot–he’s spent a lot of time with Murray as his partner and that’s been a massive drag on his performance (I think Kleinendorst is afraid to put Jaros with him for defensive reasons, but Murray isn’t any better defensively in my opinion).

Special Teams
Chlapik-Reinhart-Gagne/Chabot-White (once)
Penalty Kill
McCormick-Rodewald/Englund-Jaros (scored on)

A few takeaways here: there actually was experimentation on the PK and Kleinendorst mostly kept Kelly off it (either through fears of conditioning–back-to-back games–or because he knows Kelly won’t be on the roster long). I’m not a big Tyler Randell fan, but if he can be an effective penalty killer and that comprises most of his ice time, it’s better than how he was being played. The stubbornness with how the team operates their PP is beyond the pale at this point (they now haven’t scored in four straight games, 0-13, and in fact only have PP goals in 8 of 21 games with the worst percentage in the entire AHL).

Notable Plays
Paul shoots the puck over the net on a 3-on-2 (first); Gagne hits the post late in the first; Perron misses the net on a breakaway (second)–goes high backhand; Englund threw a huge hit in the second which resulted in a fight (Randell was the fighter); McCormick can’t get a shot on goal on a partial breakaway (second); Chlapik sets up Rodewald down low but he fans on the shot (second); Paul set up White who gets pokechecked by the goaltender before he can shoot (second).

Player Notes
Murray: were it not for the hat-trick he scored I’d be arguing for him to go down to Brampton; he’s struggled defensively and just hasn’t been effective in distributing the puck (he’s a major drag on Chabot)
Lajoie: didn’t play much in his game back, but if healthy would be a huge help to the team (very good at short, safe passes)
Burgdoerfer: his panic threshold is not good–the turnovers against the Marlies, especially in the second game, were off the chart
Sieloff: did a lot of running around looking for hits the first game, but settled down to his usual self for the second
Jaros: not hugely noticeable; some struggles on the PK, but I’m not entirely convinced that’s all his fault
Englund: was his usual, steady self; threw one of the biggest hits of the season (ultimately had no impact on the game, but great for the highlight reels)
Chabot: really didn’t impact the game; he should add a lot to the PP, but the current unit he’s on isn’t conducive to scoring so his ability to skate and distribute the puck doesn’t go anywhere
Vaive: a classic “because he’s big” guy; he’s so slow and has no hands whatsoever–should be returned to the ECHL
Ciampini: given the limited ice time he was fine
Randell: no offensive tools whatsoever, which (for me) means the guy shouldn’t play; for a supposedly physical player he doesn’t exactly put the fear of god into the opposition
Kelly: looked like a 37-year version of himself; solid defensively, clueless offensively–didn’t really help the BSens and I have no idea what the org thinks it’s getting from him
Werek: despite being up in the lineup was largely invisible (not bad per se, but not generating much either)
Rodewald: I expect more from the guy, although it remains an odd decision to keep him away from Paul given how much chemistry the two had early in the season
Reinhart: did not gel at all with linemates in either game, despite all theoretically being decent offensive players–the problem is that all three are shooters, so they need a puck distributor
Perron: had a rough game one against the Marlies, but was much better in the second when he was moved away from Kelly as his center
Gagne: in the second game he was taken off the first line for the first time since Belleville’s 2-1 loss to Charlotte; like Perron he benefited from Kelly being removed as his center
White: still struggling to find his home with the team; on paper there’s some sense to having McCormick on his wing (in theory a guy who will drive the net), but Nick Paul was having his worst game of the year so it’s hard to judge what this line could do
Paul: I don’t know if it was the travel or something else, but this was Paul’s worst game of the year–turnovers and poor decisions abounded; not entirely sure why he wasn’t partnered back up with Rodewald
McCormick: given his ice time apparently the best player on the team; Kleinendorst is a smart guy, but he must be suffering from a severe case of observation bias because nothing reduces his ice time; despite playing so much in prime offensive positions he’s actually below his expected points-per-game and well off his normal goal scoring pace–he needs to be put in his proper checking role

It was fun watching the Marlies play, but definitely frustrating to see the conservative Belleville coaching staff trying to deal with them. I think they learned the wrong lesson from game one and by the time that was clear (when it was 4-0) it was far too late to do anything about it. What can we expect from the next game? It’s hard to say.

I haven’t mentioned that Marcus Hogberg seems to have found his game in Brampton. After the trip to Sweden he’s won 3 of 4 games and in the last two faced 95 shots and stopped 90 of them. While the team in front of him isn’t very good, he seems to have turned a corner. This, of course, puts Belleville’s wonky goaltending situation in a bigger tizzy as I’m not sure any of the constituent parts that you’d want to move (including in the NHL) are really movable.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Thoughts on How to Improve Belleville’s Lineup

While the BSens haven’t been awful this year, a .500 record (9-9-1) isn’t going to cut it, especially when they have yet to play the Marlies (.778 and representing a huge volume of games the BSens have to play). In my opinion, one of the ways to improve the team is player usage, so I’m going to go through how I’d put the lines and pairings together (excluding players currently in the NHL or injured) and then go into why. The recent PTO for Chris Kelly feels more like a move for Ottawa rather than Belleville, but I mention where I’d put him below. It’s worth noting that I don’t think Kleinendorst is willing to demote his favourites below the top two lines, but there’s no reason not to hope I’m wrong.

Has it happened this season? They were the second pp unit for the 7-1 loss against Utica; they scored the lone goal
The logic: Chlapik likes to carry the puck and both his wingers, while they can as well, don’t need to have it on their stick as much; both options tend to shoot more than pass, but not with the obsessiveness of an O’Brien; both options have great speed and good hands
Has it happened? No
The logic: White needs to carry the puck and is a shooter, while Perron only wants to pass, with both benefiting from Werek going to the net without the puck
Has it happened? PP combination in their 4-2 loss Rochester, 5-4 win over the Amerks, and 7-1 loss to Utica
All three shoot first, so this is more about the defensive qualities of McCormick and O’Brien than what Reinhart brings to the table, but he at least consists of an offensive option and is more useful up the lineup than on the fourth line
Has it happened? No
These are warm bodies; Ciampini can produce offense with limited playing time while the other two are simply better options than PTO Vaive; this is where Kelly would slot in, bumping Randell to the pressbox
Has it happened? PP duo in the 5-1 win over Hartford, 3-2 loss to Providence, 7-4 loss to Springfield, and 4-3 win over Manitoba
These two were fantastic as second until pp blueliners (the duo disrupted by Harpur’s return and then injuries); both can handle the puck and get the offense moving from the back end–Lajoie is excellent at setting up Jaros’ big shot
Has it happened? Yes, frequently on the pk and as a pairing
They add almost no offense whatsoever but, collectively, are safe defensively and play well together
Has it happened? Yes in both cases, with one an effective pk duo and the other a disaster
Defensively the double EE’s have been surprisingly effective, while with Murray it’s a defensive disaster–I include the latter because Kleinendorst is more than willing to play just five defensemen 5-on-5 so it’s a question of what he’d want with his sixth (someone for the PK or someone for the PP–although Murray has not been very effective on the powerplay)

It’s worthwhile to make some observations on key prospects and how they’ve played thus far this season (Key: sc=scoring chances, evp=even strength points, ppp=powerplay points, shpg=shots-per-game):

Filip Chlapik
October 8-1-4-5 (0.62) SC 12 EVP 3 PPP 2 SHPG 2.5 PP shifts PG 4.5
November 10-1-5-6 (0.6) SC 4 EVP 4 PPP 2 SHPG 1.3 PP shifts PG 3.5
Excellent speed
Capable of beating players one-on-one and good at entering the zone with possession; likes to hang on to the puck
On the rush he’s about 50-50 between shooting and passing, but inside the zone he likes to carry the puck around the zone and dish off to a defenseman, then swing out into the open; this latter strategy works well with good puckhandling blueliners, but not otherwise
Defensively he’s very good on the backcheck, while positionly he’s about average
You can see by his decline in shots-per-game and scoring chances how the change in his ice time has impacted him

Francis Perron
October 7-0-3-3 (0.42) SC 4 EVP 2 PPP 1 SHPG 1.28 PP shifts 1.42
November 10-2-5-7 (0.7) SC 5 EVP 6 PPP 1 SHPG 1.3 PP shifts 3.0
Average speed
Doesn’t try to beat players one-on-one that often, preferring to pass
On the rush he’ll pass unless there’s no other option
Likes to make cross-ice passes which can get him into trouble
Solid defensively when it comes to position and instincts

Gabriel Gagne
October 9-4-0-4 (0.44) SC 5 EVP 4 PPP 0 SHPG 2.66 PP shifts 0.85
November 10-4-1-5 (0.5) SC 13 EVP 3 PPP 2 SHPG 2.6 PP shifts 3.0
Great speed
Capable of beating players one-on-one, but doesn’t need to carry the puck; sometimes opts for the chip and chase
On the rush he’s about 60-40 between shooting and passing; he has a great shot
Defensively he’s about average
His massive swing in scoring chances is related to a big upswing in TOI and PP opportunities

Thomas Chabot
October 5-1-2-3 (0.6) SC 4 EVP 0 PPP 3 SHPG 3.4 PP shifts 6.2
November 7-1-3-4 (0.57) SC 1 EVP 2 PPP 2 SHPG 3.0 PP shifts 4.42
Excellent skater
Capable of beating players one-on-one and likes to carry the puck; generally passes on the rush
Defensively he’s quite good, albeit his infrequent PK appearances make him hard to judge there

Maxime Lajoie
Oct-Nov* 10-0-4-4 (0.4) SC 2 EVP 2 PPP 2 SHPG 1.0 PP shifts 4.0
*with just one game in November I combined the stats
Average speed
Doesn’t try to beat players one-on-one, preferring to move the puck
Prefers to set up shooters and works to make those passes the high percentage variety
Defensively he’s about average

Christian Jaros
October 8-1-4-5 (0.62) SC 5 EVP 3 PPP 2 SHPG 2.5 PP shifts 4.5
November 4-0-0-0 (0.0) SC 0 SHPG 1.0 PP shifts 2.75
Good speed
Can beat players one-on-one, but doesn’t attempt it as often as (say) Chabot
Has a great shot and uses it as much as he can
Defensively he’s solid 5-on-5, but just average on the PK
Can play physically but is careful in picking his spots

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 5 Charlotte 2

Last night the BSens finished their four-game season series against Charlotte and picked up their first win on the back of strong goaltending and timely scoring. Before I get into my observations, here are the basics (the box score):
Shots: 23-29
PP: 0-4
PK: 2-2
Goaltender: Chris Driedger started again because Colorado had recalled Andrew Hammond and Danny Taylor was still sick–he was excellent, although the team didn’t force him to bail them out as much as the night before (he made five key saves).

The Opposition
The only major change from the previous night was in net and veteran ‘tender Jeremy Smith continued his awful season with Charlotte.

The Goals
1. Englund steals the puck on the Checker breakout and Werek essentially bounces the puck in off Reinhart
2. Charlotte – wide open beats Driedger low far side from the slot (Werek late on the backcheck)
3. Ciampini goes shelf on a partial break after poking the puck passed the D at his own blueline
4. Werek finds O’Brien all alone in front who dekes the goalie and scores on the backhand (Jimothy was part of a line change the Checkers did not pick up on)
5. Driedger beaten high on the short side from the goal line (not a good goal)
6. Reinhart buries the pass from Werek on the 2-on-1
7. McCormick beats the empty net, giving him the team lead in empty net points

Scoring chances (12): Reinhart (3), Gagne (x2, pp), White, Rodewald, Sieloff, Ciampini, McCormick (pp), Englund, O’Brien

The Roster
The only change was Ciampini replacing the pylon known as Justin Vaive.

The Lines

Every line except the fourth was changed (Werek and Reinhart moved to the second, White to the third, Ciampini to the fourth); while the defense pairings were unchanged, Erkamps played exactly one shift (in the third when the score was 5-2).

Special Teams
Penalty Kill

This is only the second time this year that the BSens were shorthanded just twice (the other was their 3-2 OT win over Manitoba). If the powerplay combinations look like everything but the kitchen sink that’s not far off. In the third Kleinendorst was clearly experimenting, but nothing was working. The major problem was on the back end–Jordan Murray has had all kinds of problems quarterbacking powerplay units (no one seems to know what he’s going to do, including him it seems). Getting into the zone isn’t the issue when Murray isn’t in the unit, but that’s typically when McCormick and O’Brien are on the ice so the problems are inside the zone.

Notable Plays
Werek was speared in the first (undetected) and was doubled over in pain, but stayed in the game and seemed fine; Perron made a fantastic backhand aerial pass to White in the first that gave him a breakaway; in the second Jaros was in a big collision in the corner (offensive zone) and seemed momentarily stunned, but was no worse for wear subsequently; Randell continued his struggles versus empty nets as late in the second he was unable to handle a pass for what would have been a tap-in; Perron was in a lot of pain with a late third period shot-block (again, he stayed).

Player Notes
Erkamps: he played one shift, so what can I say?
Murray: in front of family and friends he was not good at all–indecisive and unproductive–he was wisely kept off the PK
Burgdoerfer: the turnovers continue–he runs into trouble overhandling the puck or simply panicking in the defensive zone
Englund: wasn’t a perfect game for him but he contributed to an offensive play and had his first genuine scoring chance since the team’s 5-1 win over Hartford
Sieloff: one of his better games, including his first scoring chance since scoring in Belleville’s 7-4 loss to Springfield
Jaros: still doesn’t seem 100%, but continues to gradually improve; I thought he was strong defensively
Dunn: didn’t play much, but no overt snafus
Randell: he’s now played 17 games without a point versus a goaltender–why is he dressing?
Ciampini: credit a guy for producing with limited ice time
Chlapik: seems to have lost some of his confidence–a mix of the wrong linemates and a lack of TOI aren’t helping
Perron: played very well, but he and Chlapik haven’t meshed as a unit (linemates 7 of the last 8 games)
White: speaking of guys who don’t gel with Chlapik, he was largely invisible after the first
Rodewald: despite playing a ton was not that noticeable
Reinhart: benefited tremendously from playing with Werek (nothing about his game was different, simply his linemates)
Werek: I’ve been saying for awhile that he was a bad fit on Chlapik’s wing and Kleinendorst finally gave up on the experiment (after 4 of the last 5 games) and it provided immediate results
Gagne: tonight was a good illustration that his production is inspite rather than because of his linemates; he was fine, but there’s so much more he could do
O’Brien: took a stick in the face in the third and scored a nice goal
McCormick: is playing far too much; dependable defensively, but Kleinendorst needs an intervention on he and Jimothy

A great win for the team, albeit things could have easily gone the other way as the BSens benefited from subpar goaltending. I mentioned a lot of lineup complaints and I’ll have a piece talking about what I would do if I was putting this group together.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Charlotte 4 Belleville 2

Yesterday the BSens lost their third straight game against the Checkers and, like their previous game against them, did so after getting an early lead. Notably the game had just one official and that is legendary AHL referee Terry Koharski (whose brother Don was a long time NHL official). Terry has never been good enough for the NHL and does things his own way in the AHL–this is nothing new and the BSens should have been well-aware, but as we’ll see below, they chose to ignore this reality. Before I get into further observations, here are the basics (and the box score):
Shots: 23-33
PP: 0-3
PK: 2-4
Goaltender: Chris Driedger earned his first start and was fantastic in goal (he had thirteen key saves); Andrew Hammond backed him up while Danny Taylor didn’t join the team on the trip due to illness (Marcus Hogberg remained with Brampton). Hammond’s subsequent call-up to Colorado will make the decision tonight an interesting one in goal.

The Opposition
Charlotte is a very talented team (10-7 may not seem to reflect that, but they are). After the quick two goals by Belleville they shut things down effectively and were it not for the goaltending this game could easily have been 6-2 or 7-2.

The Goals
1. Werek one-times a back-hand pass from Perron
2. 28-seconds later Reinhart scores from above the circle far side through a crowd
3. Charlotte PP – top-corner from the point through a crowd (tipped)
4. Charlotte PP – top of the circle scores high (looked like it ramped up Perron’s stick)
5. Charlotte – Erkamps turns it over and a quick pass to a wide open Checker beats Driedger
6. Charlotte EN – Jaros turns it over

Scoring chances (8): Werek (x3, pp), McCormick (x2, pp), Reinhart, Randall, Gagne

The Roster
Chabot was recalled to Ottawa, so Erkamps dressed; Ciampini was scratched in favour of Randell (who was injured the last two games, not simply a scratch–alas); Lajoie, who is now healthy, was sent down to Brampton. Why Justin Vaive was dressed is beyond me.

The Lines

Inexplicably the lines were never Tweeted out, but outside the roster moves they were unchanged (until McCormick was thrown out of the game, moving Rodewald up to the first line); Vaive was frequently replaced by Reinhart on the second line.

Special Teams
Power Play
Penalty Kill
Perron-White/Englund-Jaros (scored on)
Perron-Randell/Sieloff-Burgdoefer (scored on)

Werek’s PP appearance was due to McCormick being booted from the game; Randell on the PK again was unfortunate. As much as I like Perron I’m not sure why Kleinendorst is constantly throwing him on the PK.

Notable Plays
The most notable was McCormick getting a penalty and mouthing off to Koharski such that he earned himself an abuse of official penalty–I have no idea why anyone would bother saying anything to Koharski–keep your mouth shut and go to the box; one of McCormick’s scoring chances was on a partial breakaway; early in the second Randell had back-to-back glorious opportunities and couldn’t put the puck on net for either of them; Rodwald made a great rush in the second, but missed the net; Gagne’s chances was on a breakaway late in the second, but he was poked checked and only managed a dribbler on goal; Reinhart flubbed a backhand and missed an empty net in the third.

Player Notes
Erkamps: wears the goat horns for the winning goal against which is not a good look
Murray: not one of his better games, albeit not glaringly bad
Jaros: still getting readjusted after coming back from his concussion, but this was a better game than his last and he played more accordingly (he should have been on the first pp unit)
Englund: I made no notes for him so, largely invisible
Burgdoerfer: the turnover ratio for him is really high given his experience and he needs to be better (putting him on the first PP unit was a bizarre decision–he’d had 1 point in his last 7 games)
Sieloff: played well defensively
Vaive: lumbers around the ice with the impact of an awkward pylon
Dunn: seems to have given up his agitator role, but I don’t know what else he brings to the table
Randell: I don’t understand the coaching love affair with him; he can’t finish offensively and isn’t consistent enough defensively
Reinhart: him scoring is something of a bonus this season, so that’s a win; had no business on the first PP though so I’m glad Kleinendorst removed him
Chlapik: mixed results from him; I don’t think Werek on that line really works (as I’ve mentioned repeatedly)
Perron: pretty quiet game from him; the pass-first thing is occasionally frustrating
Werek: woke up a little in this game, although still doesn’t have much chemistry with his linemates (he’s a crash-the-net kind of player whereas both Chlapik and Perron want to move the puck around and set up a play)
Gagne: relatively quiet (given his linemates that’s not a surprise–he’s a shooter playing with other shooters)
O’Brien: Jimothy was in his quiet place tonight and accomplished nothing
McCormick: with the “A” on his sweater he can’t be getting himself kicked out of a game for nothing

The team got discombobulated the moment that Checkers scored their first goal and had no momentum afterwards. Some of that I put directly on Kleinendorst’s shoulders for stubbornly sticking with line combos (and players) who weren’t getting the job done. Looking at the lines for tonight we can see some proper adjustment, but we’ll have to see how that pays off.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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

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
Gagne-Chlapik-Rodewald/Murray-Perron (scored)
Penalty Kill
McCormick-O’Brien/Englund-Sieloff (scored on)
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)

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

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)
Penalty Kill
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).


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
Penalty Kill
Perron-White/Murray-Englund (scored on)
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)