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11-01-2012, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Sivek View Post
Concerning Lovejoy, I've given some credence to the idea that when evaluating a player, there's the tendency to subconsciously look at guys through their draft position/upside combined with age and use that as a basis when making judgements on them visually.

I think a good example of this is Niskanen. When they where paired up in 2010-11, I didn't see much difference in them and may have rated Lovejoy as slightly better. They both stunk in the playoffs though.

Lovejoy got hurt early in the year and was in-and-out the line-up all year. Niskanen stayed healthy and was a solid 3rd-pairing guy. Throughout the year I thought praise for him was a bit overblown since he was simply playing a decent 3rd-pairing role. Thing is, other than Letang, the rest of the top 4 faceplanted, so combined with Niskanen's steady play and status as a former 1st rounder, there's a tendency to think there was more to it than what there it was. When Lovejoy, being undrafted, makes a mistake, the perception is that it's because of his physical limits.

I honestly don't think there was much difference between what Lovejoy did in 10-11 and Niskanen did last season. I don't see Niskanen ever being a solid second-pairing guy for a good team. I think his ideal role was what he was in last season. His offensive game is also no better than Lovejoy's but since he was a 1st round and had a fluke early season playing with Zubov people think there's more there than there is. Lovejoy was undrafted and overaged for a rookie but has shown a similar if not better level of offensive skill the last 2 seasons but there's no groundswell of support thinking that there's something extra there.

There's not much difference in their defensive games and the difference in age is mitigated by Lovejoy having less NHL experience. Lovejoy may have more growth that would be helped by playing a full season.

At least that's my take on Lovejoy being possibly overlooked. I don't know.
Lovejoy had a very good 10-11 season both offensively and defensively. So many people seem to forget that and focus in on last season when, as stated above, he had problems with injuries and simply getting ice time because of Niskanen & Engelland's elevated play. Then he commits "The Turnover" in the playoffs and all of a sudden that is what he is most known for now.

Crosby has been on record saying that he is the toughest defender to play against in practice. Giving up on him (or players like him) so we can feed our pipeline of puck-moving d-men is going to turn us into the 09-10 (playoff) Pens or worse (see last year's playoffs). Great article by the way.

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