While many of us were busy scrambling to get our snow tires on, the Belleville Senators were playing three games in three nights. Despite the busy schedule, the BSens were able to collect five of a possible six points on a trip through New York and Connecticut.
Friday, November 8 - Syracuse 4, Belleville 3 (OT)
Here are the highlights.
- Filip Gustavsson turned aside 30 of 34 shots (0.882 SV%), allowing two goals at even strength.
- Vitaly Abramov, Colin White (conditioning stint) and Drake Batherson joined forces to contribute all three goals for Belleville — finishing with a combined three goals, three assists and 12 shots.
- Josh Norris missed this game with a minor injury.
- Two of the three goals Syracuse scored in regulation were with the player advantage. Belleville went 0/7 on their own powerplay attempts.
Saturday, November 9 - Belleville 4, Hartford 3 (SO)
Here are the highlights.
- Marcus Hogberg stopped 19 of 22 (0.863 SV%) shots.
- Norris returned to the lineup, replacing White (recalled) on a line with Abramov and Batherson. Both Norris and Abramov found the back of the net.
- Belleville allowed another two goals while on the penalty kill.
- Batherson and Jordan Szwarz scored in the shootout to secure the win.
Sunday, November 10 - Belleville 2, Bridgeport 1
Here are the highlights.
- Hogberg started for the second time in as many nights, stopping 27 of 28 shots (0.964 SV%).
- Max Veronneau and Morgan Klimchuk were the goal scorers.
- Belleville was perfect on the penalty kill.
One of the themes from this weekend was surrounding Belleville’s special teams effort. You could argue that with a better performance on special teams, the team could have walked away with three wins and avoided the extra energy spent playing for the extra point.
Over the course of this 3-in-3 weekend, the team went 10 for 14 (71.4%) on killing penalties and only 1 for 13 (7.7%) on the powerplay. Belleville currently ranks 23rd on the penalty kill (80.3%) and 18th on the powerplay (15.1%). Relative to the season, Belleville underperformed in both categories this weekend, and being in the bottom half in both categories on the season is definitely a contributing factor to their middling 6-6-1 record.
I will have to dive deeper into the special teams deployment to see exactly who Mann is playing and for how long. I suspect a contributing factor is a lack of an elite quarterback. While Max Lajoie and Jordan Murray do their best, they’re not Thomas Chabot or Erik Brannstrom back there. Regardless, Belleville definitely has the personnel up front to have a potent powerplay, so it’s likely a systematic problem.
This past week saw some conditioning stints, injuries and recalls. The organization announced yesterday that Rudolfs Balcers has been assigned to Belleville, as he suffered a high ankle sprain prior to the season opener. I expect he’ll spend a few games with the BSens before making his way back to Ottawa and playing a top 9 role there. White, as previously mentioned, got his one AHL game in before heading back to the NHL.
After beginning the season in the press box, Jonathan Davidsson was recalled by Ottawa and earned his first NHL point. It’s almost like he never should have been scratched in the AHL to begin with.
Unfortunately, Davidsson suffered a lower body injury and has since been added to Ottawa’s list of injured players, joining fellow prospect Logan Brown.
Finally, after signing a PTO with Belleville last season, Chris Clapperton finally made his BSens debut this weekend. After compiling ten points in eight games with the ECHL’s Brampton Beast, the left winger skated in all three games this weekend, picking up a secondary assist on Sunday.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Late last week, Belleville announced Jordan Szwarz as their new captain. This is the second time in his career that Szwarz has captained an AHL team — he wore the “C” last season for the Providence Bruins after donning an “A” for three campaigns, split between Providence and Springfield.
In my opinion, naming a captain in the AHL is slightly tougher than the NHL. Since you want to choose someone who will provide leadership both on and off the ice, you often can’t name a captain who is likely to spend time away from the team. This means, no matter how great of a leader a prospect may be, you can’t name someone like Batherson, Abramov or Lajoie captain because, especially in the Senators’ system, they’re certainly going to spend time in the NHL for stretches throughout the season.
At the beginning of the year, I had Cody Goloubef pegged as Belleville’s captain but he’s playing the important role of press box warmer in Ottawa and has yet to suit up for the BSens this season. A veteran forward, Szwarz is the best option that Belleville has and I have no doubt that he’ll do what he can to lead this franchise to its first playoff appearance.