Talk about a mid-season turnaround, Ben Lovejoy was just that. The defensive defenseman struggled through most of last season and through the beginning of this season but completely changed the way he plays the game which proved to be vital to the Penguins success. The Concord, New Hampshire native played a huge part in bringing the cup back to Pittsburgh. To balance the offensive defensemen that the Penguins have on their roster, Lovejoy was added to be a stay at home defenseman and provide veteran leadership in the locker room. Age is quickly catching up to Lovejoy, now 32 years old, he finally has the ability to call himself a Stanley Cup champion. Lovejoy began his first stint with the Penguins in 2011, shortly after the 2012-13 lockout season began, Lovejoy was traded to the Anaheim Ducks. On March 2, 2015, Lovejoy was traded back to Pittsburgh for Simon Despres. Lovejoy’s stability defensively made it really tough for defenders to score, it will be interesting to see him on the flip side come October.
Being a stay at home defenseman provides much stability to a high powered offensive team like the Penguins. A team needs a guy like Lovejoy to contain that protective instinct for the goalie. The 32 year old veteran’s vision on the ice was superb at times, knowing where each and every player was on the ice allowed him to make a quick pass up the ice. His improvement this year was outstanding. Lovejoy in my book was the worst defenseman we had at the start of the season, at the end of the season, he was easily a top 4 defenseman. He really stepped up his play when he needed to and provided the Penguins with many blocked shots. Lovejoy is also fairly durable, playing in 66 games this year. It is important to have a guy like him in as many games as possible especially with the talent that the NHL provides. He locks down on players like Alex Ovechkin and John Tavares. He is not afraid of the challenge which is what really gets me excited about this guy. He did not give Ovechkin or any other superstar much room when it came to the opposition’s rushes. It was a joy to watch Ben shut down the top players in the league, and he stuck with it the entire playoffs because he wanted his name engraved on that precious cup. You could tell by the look on his face that he has the desire to win and he did just that for the Penguins this year.
I believe that Lovejoy’s biggest fault is he does make bad decisions every now and then. He might let a pass get away that he should have complete control of because a defender is really close to him. He becomes over confident in his offensive abilities, he might make a risky move sacrificing an easy pass to a winger. Lovejoy does not have the speed to do something like that, I would only let Letang or Daley do that. We saw the absolute best of Ben Lovejoy this post-season, you will never see Lovejoy do something like that again. We got the best out of him that is for sure. There is no way he can get any better than that, which might be more of a problem from here on out because he is getting up there in age. The league is getting younger and younger and it will be interesting to see how he can compete with guys like Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine. Lovejoy will have a tough go at it from here on out in his career, it is going to be up to him on whether he can still compete with the young man’s game the NHL is turning in to.
2016 Statistics + Playoffs:
+/- : +14
Ben Lovejoy just signed a new 3 yr(s) $8,000,000 deal with former Penguins GM Ray Shero of the New Jersey Devils.
Overall Rating: B