The Belleville Senators have only played one game since their January 17th loss to the Syracuse Crunch. With so much time off, and many of their top players with the Ottawa Senators, Belleville certainly left a lot to be desired when they welcomed Toronto to CAA Arena for their only game of the week Friday night.
With plenty of rest under his belt, it was no surprise to see Head Coach Troy Mann turn to his starter, Mads Søgaard, between the pipes on Friday. Unfortunately for Søgaard, he didn’t receive much in terms of run support in this one, as the Marlies were able to put two past him in the first period.
The second period was only half as bad as the first, as Toronto only managed the one goal but when your team is missing players like Lassi Thomson and Egor Sokolov and you’re down by three halfway through the game, it becomes really tough to fight and claw your way back in.
It wasn’t until halfway through the third, and four Marlies goals later, that the BSens managed to get on the board. Matthew Wedman buried his sixth of the season thanks to some strong play from Chris Wilkie. Mitchell Hoelscher - fresh off his recall from the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL - grabbed the secondary assist on Belleville’s lone marker.
The good news for Belleville is twofold. First, The their schedule is about to heat up with five games in the next nine days so they’ll have the opportunity to get into a rhythm. Second, and more importantly, the NHL is officially on their All Star break which means reinforcements are on their way.
Having almost a full week off from the NHL schedule means players currently with the Sens - or their taxi squad - can head to Belleville and lace them up with the AHL squad for the next three games as Ottawa hits the ice again on Monday against the New Jersey Devils. With how a few of the injuries seem to be trending, it’s also possible that some of these players will stay with Belleville even longer. It will all come down to how this week off will impact the recovery timelines for players like Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Brown, Dylan Gambrell and, maybe, Josh Norris - although based on the lack of updates on this one, I’m not super hopeful we’ll be seeing Norris on the ice next week.
The Penalty Kill - Belleville found themselves shorthanded a total of six times in this one and, while Toronto scored five goals in the game, none of them were on the powerplay.
Cole Reinhardt - While he didn’t find the scoresheet, Reinhardt was moved up the lineup with the team shorthanded and he performed quite well. He led the BSens with four shots and admirably filled in as Mann’s faceoff guy with Mark Kastelic in Ottawa.
The Power Play - While they were strong down a man, the BSens were unable to convert on any of their five opportunities with the man advantage.
Team Discipline - When you’re shorthanded with your top of the line up players up with the big club, one of the most important things you can do is stay out of the box. While Toronto wasn’t successful in scoring on the powerplay, it’s really hard to gain momentum and claw your way back into a game when you’re in the box so frequently. In the second period, while already down by three, Belleville found themselves in the box for a roughing penalty and two trips in the span of about 8 minutes.