It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Belleville Senators this week, as they managed to show they can play with the best of them in their two wins against the top team in the North. Unfortunately, when the points mattered even more, the BSens left the arena empty handed.
In our first two games of the week, Belleville managed to steal four points from the Utica Comets thanks to stellar play from Filip Gustavsson, Logan Shaw and Egor Sokolov. Gustavsson stopped 60 of the 64 shots he faced, giving him a stellar 0.938 SV% through two starts against the best in the division. Shaw not only scored in regulation but also netted the overtime winner in Belleville’s 4-3 victory on Wednesday night.
Humpday? Never heard of it pic.twitter.com/noTDtJlkyl— Belleville Senators (@BellevilleSens) April 7, 2022
The next two games saw Belleville faceoff with Rochester and Laval - two of the teams right in the middle of the playoff hung with the BSens. The race is so tight that the currently sixth place BSens have a 0.547 win percentage while the second place Laval Rocket are barely ahead with a 0.595.
On Saturday, the Americans, once again led by the scoring prowess of Jack Quinn, came flying out of the gates and never looked back. Quinn scored the 24th and 25th goals of his rookie season, which were two of the four goals Rochester scored to open this game. Belleville finally cracked goaltender Aaron Dell (he says with animosity) on a goal from Lassi Thomson.
Lassi Thomson got one back for Belleville. Lots of time left. pic.twitter.com/JTVMMAroqH— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) April 10, 2022
The other top German from the 2020 draft, JJ Peterka, ended any thought of a comeback as he added not one but two powerplay markers towards the end of the second. With a 6-1 lead heading into the final frame, Belleville had an uphill battle they simply couldn’t win. Cole Reinhardt did manage to bury one, for his 12th of the season, but that was it for Belleville on this one.
The final game of the week, a Monday night heater with the Laval Rocket, began how Saturday’s game ended - with a goal from Cole Reinhardt.
Unfortunately for Belleville, this was the only goal they could manage. While they carried a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, the second frame was all Laval as they put three pucks past Gustavsson. The third was much like the second, with another set of goals for Laval, burying the BSens by a score of 5-1.
To recap, Belleville won both games against top seed Utica before getting outscored 11-3 by Laval and Rochester, two teams that are supposed to be more on their level. If Belleville is going to want to see themselves playing extra hockey this spring, they’ll need to figure out a way to show up for the most important games down the stretch.
- While Gustavsson was pulled on Saturday and allowed four goals on Monday, he was still a big reason for any optimism for the BSens. In the game he was pulled, he did allow four goals on ten shots, but two of them were on the powerplay where he had little to no chance of stopping them.
- Viktor Lodin made his Belleville debut on Saturday. Spending a decent amount of time on the wing opposite from Roby Järventie, Lodin did plenty of things well in his first two North American pro games. He was physical and showed a ton of effort away from the puck. Notably, and understandably, Lodin will need to get used to the lack of time and space in the AHL. There were a number of times he was too late to get a shot off or make a play, almost certainly because he’s used to having more time in the SHL. If he figures this out soon, we’ll start seeing some of those highlight reel plays show up in Belleville.
- Logan Shaw had two goals and three assists for five points through four games this week, including the overtime game winner.
- After being returned to Belleville from his NHL recall, Cole Reinhardt had a pair of goals and an assist in three games this week. Experiencing the usual post-recall power boost, let’s hope this continues for Reinhardt down the stretch as strong play from him will be paramount in Belleville’s playoff hunt.
- Lassi Thomson potted a goal and two assists this week, and was clearly the best defender on the ice for both teams (in every game).
- Belleville’s truest downfall this week had everything to do with the penalty box. Against Utica, Belleville was strong in both. They capitalized on two of their three opportunities for an astonishing 66.67% success rate while only allowing one for eight while shorthanded. Against Laval and Rochester, however, the opposite was true. They went 0 for 9 on the powerplay and allowed goals on five of nine against - including allowing four (!) powerplay goals in their 6-2 loss to the Americans.