Camp Battles: Lovejoy not entrenched as No. 5 defenseman yet

Lovejoy not entrenched as No. 5 defenseman yet
Ben Lovejoy finished last season with 10 points (2G-8A) over his final 19 games and his plus-11 rating ranked third among team D-men. Lovejoy clearly emerged as the Penguins No. 5 defenseman down the stretch, posting a plus-12 rating over his final 31 games and he’s picked up where he left off with a solid camp so far, but head coach Dan Bylsma isn’t ready to pencil in Lovejoy for a top-6 spot yet.
“That is not set in stone, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said today on his backend pairings. I wouldn’t set any pairings or anything in stone on the backend. Will play itself a little bit out in camp. 5, 6, 7, and 8 aren’t set in stone.”
Bylsma did have high praise Lovejoy in how it’s been a world of difference from where he was last year in camp and he’s even seeing a different player from last spring.
” I actually think he’s at a different level right now than he was last year, ” Bylsma said. Pretty confident player right now. He certainly hasn’t been this way in camp in the NHL ever. He’s comfortable, playing aggressive, playing physical. Right now he’s having a good camp and so is Matt Niskanen and Deryk Engelland.”
Park catching Bylsma’s Eye
Richard Park has the look of a player who fits the Penguins system extremely well and could be an asset as a 12th or 13th forward.
“I think the intelligence and the work ethic that he plays the game with is extremely high, Bylsma said. “You see that in different situations, face-off, penalty kill, and moving in different spots, left wing, right wing, center and he’s a guy that can do that..
“Pretty impressive numbers for a guy in his last four years in the National Hockey League. He’s getting use to the pace and he’ll be right in the mix in competition if he can do those things.”
Bylsma remains intrigued about Williams ability on the power play
Veteran forward Jason Williams has not had a particularly strong training camp but it’s still early as he’s battling the likes of Richard Park and Ryan Craig among others for a final roster spot.
One area Bylsma continues to be intrigued about is what Williams might be able to add to a possible No. 2 power play unit. “Saw him on the point in the power play shooting the puck hard last night. He did that very well, ” Bylsma said. “That’s more along the lines of what we’re looking for him.”

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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