The Belleville Senators keep on rolling, and Drake Batherson continues to be the straw that stirs their offence. Reinforcements arrived this week in the form of Jack Rodewald and Filip Gustavsson, but coach Troy Mann will have to do without Rudolfs Balcers for the foreseeable future as the young ex-Shark is coming off the best week of his NHL career.
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Hogberg has been the goaltender of record for most of Belleville’s 13 game point streak (9-0-0-4), personally going 8-0-0-3 over his last 11 starts. He had his first shutout of the season against the always-dangerous Syracuse Crunch, which featured the remarkable save below:
Marcus Hogberg just ate Gabriel Dumont's lunch. What a save! pic.twitter.com/xGF6quwVJQ— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) February 14, 2019
I think he one-upped that save himself on Saturday night against Cleveland, as the Monsters came in on a 2-on-0 and got denied by the quick lateral movement of the Swede.
Troy Mann: "Hogberg made some big saves, especially that 2-on-0. I thought that was a game-changer." pic.twitter.com/UZ35VZrWc7— Joel Vanderlaan (@Joelvanderlaan) February 17, 2019
The BSens occasionally struggle defensively, especially when Christian Wolanin or Stefan Elliott aren’t on the ice to break the puck out, but Hogberg’s been great at stopping the first shot and letting his defence clear out any rebound.
He plays unconventional for a goaltender his size, often sitting deeper in his net and occasionally splitting out rebounds right in front, but he’s certainly inserted himself into the goaltending picture for the Senators next season.
Colin and I are tired of belabouring the point with Batherson, but his performance is consistently worth mentioning in this space. He had five points and eight shots in four games this week, and is one of those players who makes smart plays (like the one below) that you don’t notice all the time, but gets him on the scoresheet.
Extremely clever and a treat to play with, much like the Sens’ current best right-winger...
Drake Batherson's 29th assist of the season was the only apple on this opening goal by Nick Paul. Smart sauce to create the original chance. Make it a 10-game point streak for Drake! #BathTime pic.twitter.com/9REIi65ptw— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) February 14, 2019
It’s taken a while for the team’s lone Latvian to get it going, but Balcers is coming off the best week of his NHL career. With two goals, three points, and nine shots in the Sens’ three games, Balcers has received minutes on the team’s second powerplay unit and hasn’t disappointed. He also looks a lot more noticeable with the puck while playing T9 minutes with fellow former Sharks Chris Tierney and Mikkel Boedker, assisting with zone entries or opening himself up in quiet areas in the offensive zone to get a quick shot off. He’s also caught the attention of other Latvian athletes, such as Dallas Mavericks starter, Kristaps Porzingis.
The trade deadline may change this team’s roster by a fair amount, but I expect Balcers to get the remainder of Ottawa’s NHL games. If the BSens make the playoffs, I expect him to go back down to help them for a playoff run, something that I’m not sure is the case for Chabot, Tkachuk, White, Lajoie, and Jaros — even though they’re all eligible contract-wise — because they’ve all played a bulk of the 82-game season in Ottawa and may need time to rest.
After missing nearly two months with his lower body injury, Alex Formenton has returned to the London lineup with style, registering five points and 19 shots (!) in four games this week.
⭐️ Alex Formenton had a goal and two assists on Sunday, earning 2nd star honours in an 8-5 win.— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) February 18, 2019
Formenton has 22 points (10-12-22) in 18GP with OHL London. pic.twitter.com/yT6CVZhJll
It’s hard to peg what reasonable expectations are for the Sens winger, but increasing his point-per-game total and helping lead London on a long playoff run are a good start, as the team seems pegged for success with Evan Bouchard and Adam Boqvist on the backend. I’m still of the opinion that Formenton could use some AHL time, especially since his production has never been “wow” worthy (>1.5 PPG), but dominant playoff production can help quell any fears about his offensive ceiling.
- After what seems like forever, the team’s lone Finnish prospect, Markus Nurmi, was back on the scoresheet this past week — registering two assists. Nurmi has been badly snakebitten and has taken a step back offensively while registering ~15 minutes a night for TPS. He continues to get regular minutes on the PK and in a defensive role.
- We’re still waiting to see if Joey Daccord turns pro this year, and I wonder how much Arizona State’s potential run at the National Championship will change things for him...
- Your weekly injury update: With Jack Rodewald and Christian Wolanin back playing in Belleville, Andrew Sturtz and Morgan Klimchuk are the only two notable players still injured.
- BSens beat writer Joel Vanderlaan reported this week that Julius Bergman, the “prospect” received in the Mike Hoffman trade, is likely returning to Sweden at the conclusion of this year. Bergman has disappointed this year, registering just six points after back-to-back years of 20+ points with the San Jose Barracuda. Coach Mann has talked about Bergman’s defensive deficiencies, and has given his usual powerplay minutes to Christian Wolanin and Jordan Murray all year.
- Want to listen to some prospect talk? @SensProspects chatted with the @SensCentral crew, and BSens head coach Troy Mann talked about Paul, Brown, Batherson, and Englund on TSN1200.