Despite looking absolutely fantastic in their Belleville Bulls throwback jerseys this weekend, the on-ice result for the BSens was less than ideal. Instead of recapping the losses, I want to outline a few stars from their pair of games while diving into what it’s going to take for Belleville to end up in a playoff spot.
Highlights of the Week
I know, it’s not a great sign when the first highlight of the week has to do with the team's attire but, I mean, look at these stunners:
This weekend Belleville paid tribute to their former OHL team, the Bulls, inviting notable alumni to the game and not only having sweet jerseys for warmups, but playing the entire game in them. The BSens continue to nail the jersey game.
While he wasn’t able to carry Belleville to victory by himself, Bibeau stood on his head in Saturday’s loss to the Milwaukee Admirals, stopping 35 of the 37 shots he faced for a fantastic 0.946 SV%.
Jake Lucchini continues to be one of the more consistent producers Belleville has ever had in a veteran addition. He had a goal and an assist, while throwing four shots on net against the Islanders.
Like Lucchini, Maxence Guenette also had a goal and an assist this weekend to go along with seven shots on net. The right shot defender has turned into an offensive dynamo of late, compiling two goals and six assists over his last nine games.
The Play-off Hunt
As for the play-off hunt, we have bad news and we have good news. The bad news is that, as of writing this article on Tuesday, the BSens are currently in last place in the North Division. The good news is that the North Division has a play-in round built in, whereby the fourth and fifth place teams go head-to-head in a three game series, where the winner then faces the top team in the division.
As it stands today, the top team in the North is the Toronto Marlies —who are miles ahead of the competition with a 14 point lead on second place. Whatever team comes out of the play-in round will have a tall task ahead of them. But, continuing on the good news train, ending up in fifth place is very much in reach for Belleville.
It’s a virtual certainty that the top four teams in the division will be four of the five playoff teams, the question is just in what order as there’s a very slim gap between second and fourth. That leaves a battle for the fifth and final spot to Cleveland, Laval and Belleville - three teams which currently sit within a point of one another.
Heading to the end of the year, Cleveland has ten games remaining, Belleville and Laval have eight each. Looking at their schedules, Belleville appears to have the most difficult road to the end of the year. While the Monsters and Rocket have some tough games ahead, Belleville’s schedule includes four dates with the top seeded Marlies.
This year, Belleville has a 2-5-1 record against Toronto, including an 0-3-1 record in their last four meetings. Needless to say, it’s not going to be easy. Belleville has no games against the Rocket but two of their final eight are games will feature Cleveland. In fact, six of Belleville’s final seven games are either against the best team in the division or one of the two teams they’re competing with for the final spot.
If I’m Belleville, I’m trying absolutely anything - including throwing Leevi Meriläinen in for his AHL debut as soon as possible - to get this team their ticket to the play-in.