At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, the Belleville Senators may never lose again.
This past week saw the BSens play two matchups against Toronto and return to Laval for yet another date with the Rocket. Led by the likes of Josh Norris, Alex Formenton and the goaltending duo of Joey Daccord and Filip Gustavsson, the BSens were absolutely perfect.
Friday, February 7th - Belleville 7, Toronto 4
Here are the highlights.
- Daccord faced 40 shots, turning away 36 of them (0.900 SV%).
- Down 4-2 at the 2 minute mark of the second period, Belleville scored five unanswered to complete an epic comeback in the third period.
- Formenton (1G, 1A), Jordan Murray (2A), Erik Brannstrom (1G, 1A), Max Lajoie (2A) and Jonathan Aspirot (2A) all contributed multi-point nights.
- Brannstrom fired a team leading eight shots on net and his goal was nothing short of spectacular.
Saturday, February 9 - Belleville 3, Laval 2 (OT)
Here are the highlights.
- Gustavsson was less busy than his counterpart, turning away 20 shots through just over 62 minutes of play.
- Brannstrom scored for a second straight game.
- Norris contributed a pair of assists while Formenton and JC Beaudin joined Brannstrom as the goal scorers.
Revisiting My Bold Prediction
It’s been pointed out recently that my bold prediction that the BSens will not only make the playoffs but secure home-ice advantage is looking likely to come true. People are throwing around words like “genius” and “psychic” and some are going as far as calling me “the smartest person alive” but, honestly, I’m just a regular guy who makes incredibly accurate bold predictions that nobody else could possibly forecast.
In making this bold prediction, I briefly covered a projected roster and mentioned that a big reason for Belleville being able to start the playoffs on home ice would be due to the goaltending. I think we can all agree that the tandem of Daccord and Gustavsson, with Hogberg playing well earlier in the year, and the absolute top tier offense have been the catalysts in this prediction coming true. I also brought up a pair wildcards that would make or break the BSens successful campaign for home ice advantage. The two cards in question were Logan Brown and Christian Wolanin being major contributors at the AHL level. The first has been true, the second is coming shortly. But it was actually neither of those things that truly propelled this team to where they are today. While my prediction may be accurate, I certainly didn’t anticipate it being on the backs of Norris, Formenton, Brannstrom and Daccord. That was and still is just a wonderful gift that keeps on giving.
Nonetheless, I still think I have grounds to rename the Silver Seven Sens Bold Predictions series “Spencer’s Insanely Perfect And Also Easy Predictions” and now have the qualifications for the role of President of Hockey Operations.
Upgrading the Blueline
It was announced this week that Wolanin has been cleared to play. As foreshadowed by Pierre Dorion in January, Wolanin has been reassigned to the Belleville Senators and the BSens got right down to work on their newly improved blueline.
At this point, it’s not clear if Wolanin and Brannstrom were paired together for this drill at practice at random, for powerplay work or to as the full-time top pairing in Belleville. One thing about Wolanin’s addition to the team that was expanded upon yesterday was related to the management of his playing time.
#BellevilleSens defenceman Christian Wolanin will play Friday night but won't play in Toronto Saturday.— Matt Tidcombe (@MattTidcombe) February 11, 2020
Current plan according to head coach Troy Mann is that he won't play in back-to-back games to start.
"We're going to manage his games rather than his ice time."
It sounds like Wolanin will get the full game Friday but won’t be playing in back-to-backs to start. As a player coming back from a lengthy injury recovery, this is definitely the right call. With Belleville playing at such a high level, they’re not as desperate for Wolanin’s talents as they may have been two months ago. For me, the expectation is that Wolanin will continue playing with Belleville until after the trade deadline. Depending on who gets moved in a few weeks, he may see some time in Ottawa but the Senators will ensure that he is eligible to join the BSens for the playoff run.
Needless to say, this team is shaping up for quite the run and I’m not the only one who’s fired up about it.