“We’re going to find out who did it, and probably do nothing about it.”
That line, spoken so matter-of-factly by defenseman Ben Lovejoy
in HBO Sports ‘24/7 Penguins-Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic’ reality series after discovering that he and road roommate Mark Letestu had been pranked by teammates, became an instant classic with Penguins fans.
Lovejoy became of a breakout star on the show, as his first NHL goal and first NHL fight (both coming Dec. 22 vs. Florida) were also documented on the show. And who could forget Lovejoy and his swelled-up cheek from taking a slap shot to the face on the team plane, turning to teammates Marc-Andre Fleury
and Sidney Crosby
and asking, ‘Can you tell I got hit?’
But while fans got a glimpse of Lovejoy behind the scenes, they really got to know him on the ice as the blueliner completed his first full NHL season with Pittsburgh.
After playing the previous three seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (WBS), Lovejoy knew he was ready for his shot at the NHL, and the coaches did too – as he made the squad out of training camp.
However, there was still a little bit of an adjustment period for Lovejoy as he tried not to get too overwhelmed.
“This was kind of a tale of two seasons,” he admitted. “It took me a while to get used to the pace and the speed. Just being in the NHL is a nerve-racking experience. This is where you want to be. You don’t want to mess it up.
“By doing that, maybe I didn't get to my game right away. The second two-thirds of the year and in playoffs, I felt like I was playing my best hockey. Hopefully I can continue that the next few years.”
Lovejoy continued to grow and develop over the first half of the season within a deep defensive corps, and as the year progressed, his confidence blossomed.
The smooth-skating defenseman really hit his stride toward the end of February, when his team needed him most because of injuries to fellow blueliners Brooks Orpik
and Paul Martin
. Lovejoy stepped up and provided a steady presence in the lineup in their absences, even embarking on a four-game point streak from March 13-21.
Thanks to his strong play, Lovejoy earned a regular spot in the rotation for the remainder of the regular season and all seven games of the playoffs. He hopes to build off his strong finish come next season.
“I think the biggest thing for me is coming in and continue where I am now,” he said. “I don’t want to take a step back. I don’t want to come into training camp and have there be any doubt. I want to come in and be ready to play from the first drop of the puck at training camp and be excited.”
Made NHL postseason debut, appearing in seven games for Pittsburgh … Notched two assists … Posted first career postseason point in Game 3 at Tampa Bay … Finished with a plus or even rating in six of seven games … Third on team with 10 blocked shots.2010-11 REGULAR SEASON:
Completed his first full NHL season with Pittsburgh … Recorded three goals, 17 points and a plus-11 rating in 47 games … Scored his first NHL goal vs. Florida Dec. 22 … Recorded multi-point games with two assists Jan. 5 vs. Tampa Bay and April 10 at Atlanta … Notched career-high four-game scoring streak March 13-21 (1+3).
|GP ||G ||A ||P ||PIM ||+/- ||PP ||SH |
|47 ||3 ||14 ||17 ||48 ||+11 ||0 ||0 |
|GP ||G ||A ||P ||PIM ||+/- ||PP ||SH |
|7 ||0 ||2 ||2 ||4 ||0 ||0 ||0 |
Photos courtesy of Getty Images Click here to view the full photo gallery of Ben Lovejoy during the 2010-11 season!
Below is a transcript of Ben Lovejoy's chat with the media on the Penguins' locker cleanout day on April 29.
On how he feels his season went and if he thought he came into his own this year:
This was kind of a tale of two seasons. It took me a while to get used to the pace and the speed. Just being in the NHL, it’s a nerve-racking experience. This is where you want to be. You don’t want to mess it up. By doing that, maybe I didn't get to my game right away. The second two-thirds of the year and in playoffs, I felt like I was playing my best hockey. Hopefully I can continue that the next few years.
On what the strongest aspects of his game are:
I think my skating and my defense. Those are two things I pride myself on. I’m not a Kris Letang
, I’m not going to be an offensive defenseman. But my skating does allow me to get up in plays and be effective and make plays in the offensive zone, too.
On what the No. 1 thing is between now and next year that he has to do:
That’s a tough question. There are a lot of things. I think the biggest thing for me is coming in and continue where I am now. I don’t want to take a step back. I don’t want to come into training camp and have there be any doubt. I want to come in and be ready to play from the first drop of the puck at training camp and be excited.
On he can pinpoint any specific parts of his game he wants to work on:
I’d like to hit the net more. That would be nice. I’m going to shoot some pucks this summer. I feel like I’m not a goal scorer, but I miss the net too much. I get a lot of shots blocked. That’ll be one thing I certainly focus on.
On how one practices that:
You shoot. We have a net in my backyard and I will hopefully shoot plenty of pucks. I’m not going to be aiming for my mother’s dryer, but I’m going to go out and shoot 100 pucks a day and hopefully be better at that.
On if he will look back on this season and be amazed at everything they did:
I think so. I think this has been a crazy season. We were successful through our work. We weren’t a team that was going to go out and outskill teams, and I think we saw that through the regular season that we were a team that’s tough to play against. Our lack of goal scoring caught up with us a bit. I think we’re incredibly part of how hard we worked.
Author: Michelle Crechiolo