Ben Lovejoy is a likeable guy.
That almost sounds like I am trying for a joke...but I'm not.
Last night Lovejoy went awkwardly into the boards during a collision with a Sharks player and immediately you could tell something was wrong.
The grimace on his face...the reaction of the trainer on the bench while feeling Lovejoy's wrist...the quick exit he made to the the dressing room for what presumably was an x-ray...all pointed toward something more than a bump or bruise.
Turns out, Lovejoy has a broken wrist and is out 4-6 weeks.
Lovejoy's season to date has been a bit of a disappointment. It's not that he has played badly...it's just that he hasn't kept improving as consistently as you would want or maybe even expect a guy at his age and career status (2nd year NHLer).
That's what makes last night's injury even tougher to take. Lovejoy looked awesome in the minutes he played last night. He was showing good speed and instincts, was joining the offensive rush when appropriate and was hitting opponents. It was a start that looked like it might end in a special (good) way for Lovejoy...but it just wasn't to be.
Now, the hope is that in a month or so, he can regain the form we saw last night, and continue his growth as a legitimate NHL defenseman. So, instead of maybe getting an answer to a question (Can Lovejoy take that next step?) we are left with that same question and now have another one, "Can the Penguins continue to play good defensively minus both Michalik and Lovejoy"?
Those are both questions that I think will have positive answers...but we'll obviously have to wait and see if I'm right.
.......Imagine a cartoon character with a thought bubble full of question marks above his head........
Another question that keeps popping into my head...and seems even more appropriate with the Lovejoy injury...Will the Penguins EVER be a healthy team?
It seems to me whenever we get close to being 100% healthy, we have another injury set-back.
I know today's NHL is very physical and demanding and no team stays 100% healthy for long...but I am starting to wonder if maybe the Penguins style of play prevents them from being a healthy team, by today's standards.
Don't get me wrong...I love the style Bylsma asks the team to play and clearly they have drafted or picked up players that fit into that style.
I am starting to think the NHL (and maybe all pro sports for that matter) is really a league where you should expect (at best) about a 90% healthy rate for your team...and with the style of play the Penguins strive for, maybe the best they can hope for is 80-85% of the players being "healthy" at any given time. (For the record, I will define "healthy" as "in the line-up"...which we all know usually means a player is anywhere from 80-100% of his true health).
I guess, all things being equal, most teams hover around that 80-90% level throughout the season. It's just a lot harder to win when in that 10-20% "unhealthy" group there are always 1-3 of your best players.
What do you think?
Your thoughts on Lovejoy...his play to date and in the game last night before the injury...
...and your thoughts on the Penguins' style maybe having a negative impact on their injury situation?
......Imagine a time when your gut told you to do one thing, and you did what you thought everybody else would do......
Back on August 31st I posted this question:
Who would you keep (can keep 1 defenseman) between Doughty, Yandle and Phaneuf?'
I am in a 14 team league and I draft 13th. We score on your basic stats (goals, assists etc) but we also give points (fractions of points actually) for shots/hits/blks for defenseman. With those stats included, Phaneuf AVERAGED about the same as Doughty and Yandle did last year.
I am thinking that I might throw caution to the wind and try to move BOTH Doughty and Yandle for draft pick swaps...trying to improve my 1st and/or 3rd round picks.
My thoughts are:
1) Toronto has improved and Phaneuf has been a 'keeper' in the past.
2) I like Yandle, but the whole Phoneix thing is shakey and I'm not convinced they will be as good without Brzygalov there.
3) Doughty will likely sign a huge deal and then play below standard or...worse yet...get injured.
As it turns out, I DID trade Doughty and improved my draft selections quite a bit...but I only followed my advice half way.
Instead of trading Yandle, I kept him...and left Phaneuf to be drafted.
I fully intended to re-draft Phaneuf, but another owner was smart enough to take him before I could (I did draft Pronger and Edler though).
I know it's only about 1/8 into the season, but at this point Phaneuf is way ahead of those other two guys in fantasy points:
Phaneuf 13GP 55.7 points
Yandle 12GP 25.4 points
Doughty 7GP 9.1 points
I just hope I'm not still kicking myself at the end of the season for not trusting my instincts on this one.
Thanks for reading!