Joffrey Lupul loves Virginia Woolf

Jonathan Willis
December 10 2008 05:21PM

Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradles. - Virginia Woolf, 1929.

If you haven’t seen it, there’s yet another puff piece on Philadelphia Flyers forward Joffrey Lupul, this one at CBC.ca. Here are some of the highlights:

"Sometimes my confidence can get shaken a little… sometimes when things aren't going well you wait a little bit for someone else to do [the work]. That's something in my game I'd like to fix. I'd like to try to keep that confidence at a high level all the time but it's a long season and it's tough."

That’s right Nation – it’s a simple matter of confidence (just like last year ). CBC writer Doug Harrison notes that “quite often, when Lupul has lost his confidence, there has been a drastic dip in his production offensively” and cites Lupul’s lost season in Edmonton. He quotes Lupul as saying that he “never found a spot in the lineup” during his time in Edmonton, and that Lupul learned to work harder over the summer as a result.

Harrison talks about how Lupul “is comfortable in a checking role on a winning team”, and notes that a recent lineup shift will mean that Lupul “can expect to see about 19 minutes of ice time, a substantial increase from the 12 to 14 minutes he has played most of the season. His power-play minutes might also rise” (for the record, Lupul’s averaging over 15 minutes a night.)

All of this, and I mean all of it, is fantasy. We can look at what statistical analysis tells us, or what the scouting tells us, because they tell us the exact same thing.

Let’s look at this so-called checking line that Lupul was placed on – who did Lupul play with and against?

In the last six games the Flyers have played, Lupul has lined up against good opponents twice – once with Briere and Hartnell, and once with Carter and Hartnell. The games that he spent on the third line were with Glen Metropolit and one of Scottie Upshall or Andreas Nodl – and he wasn’t being used in a checking role there, because he wasn’t checking anybody. The best offensive player he lined up against during that time period was Matt Cullen – and the Hurricanes generally run their lines with Staal centering the top unit, Brind’Amour the second, and Matt Cullen the third.

In Lupul’s time on the third line with Glen Metropolit, the duo has been outscored 4-2 by the nobodies (despite outshooting them 104-102). For the season as a whole, he’s been outscored 19-12 and outshot 304-297, with the significant drop off likely caused by playing with better linemates against better players.

All along the way, the numbers have told us that Joffrey Lupul can’t handle top-caliber opposition at the NHL level. He’s a good, if streaky, scorer against lesser opposition and as long as he has legitimate line-mates, but that’s it. Bottom line – it isn’t a question of confidence; it’s a question of ability.

Of course, we really don’t need the numbers to tell us that – the image of Joffrey Lupul lazily coasting back into the defensive zone after a goal against is perhaps the image that best sums up the 2006-07 Oilers’ season.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Jeremy
December 11 2008, 09:49AM
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I remember when he was here in E-town, my cousin and I ran into him at a bar. He was absolutely hammered. They had a game to play the next day, and I recall my cousin getting so angry at seeing this he walked up to him and said- "Lupul, you're minus 26, put down the drink and go practice." We were asked to leave shortly after this encounter.

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#2 Doogie2K
December 10 2008, 06:21PM
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To be fair, confidence is certainly a real determinant of how well a player's going to play that night. But for as much as he may have "lacked confidence," you don't go through an entire year without dealing with that shit; every NHL team keeps sports psychologists on staff for that exact purpose.

Bottom line: he didn't play very well in Edmonton, end of discussion. I'm way past the point of giving a flying turd about some jerk who had a bad season with us two years ago, whomever he was traded for.

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#3 Jonathan Willis
December 10 2008, 06:44PM
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Doogie2K wrote:

Bottom line: he didn’t play very well in Edmonton, end of discussion. I’m way past the point of giving a flying turd about some jerk who had a bad season with us two years ago, whomever he was traded for.

It isn't just Lupul - it's Lupul's player type. Guys look at those 28 goals and say he's a great offensive player - but he's a one-dimensional player.

Lupul's a nice example because he's difficult to argue against. There are plenty of other examples of players who can't handle the tough opposition. It isn't to say that someone who generally sees soft opponents can't handle the toughs; just that sometimes they can't make the transition.

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#4 Reggie
December 10 2008, 07:06PM
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I think Lupul is a money player. And I don't mean that in a good way. He signed his nice 4 year deal and so now he's just not as interested as he was last year. I think part of that issue is definitely a one dimensional player - a shooter who doesn't have much else to his game.

Maybe there is confidence issue there, but from what I saw in Edmonton, last year there is definitely a desire issue in that he doesn't work hard enough, often enough.

In an interesting aside, we trade Lupul and Smith for Pitkanen and then ship Pitkanen for Cole. At this point, both players a buried on the third line, not producing while Pitkanen who has missed a few games with injury seems to be ahead of the two forwards stats-wise.

Pitkanen 12 points in 20 games -2 Lupul 13 points in 27 games -6 Cole 8 points in 26 games -3

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#5 max fisher
December 11 2008, 12:05AM
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it comes down to lupul for cole. 10 times out of 10 i'll take cole over lupul. Cole is having a brutal year so far but just the way he handles himself makes him infinateley more likable than lupul. I swear to you if they let cole play the right ide on the second line, he'll start putting up the points.

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#6 Gord
December 11 2008, 08:20AM
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@ max fisher: Cole may be having trouble getting on the score sheet, but I wouldn't say he is having a brutal year. Cole is the best in the league in drawing penalties (3.2/60), is one of the Oilers best hitting forwards and tends to give a full out effort every shift (from what I see of him on the ice). Unlike Lupal, guys like Cole bring so much more than just goals and assists to the game.

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#7 Cam
December 11 2008, 09:20AM
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Good post JW.

I for one am usually interested in ex-oilers; particularly when they blossom with another team and I wonder "why not here?" I began caring when they traded away Miroslav Satan for some crappy defenseman that never made the main squad. I was a big Satan fan at the time and I was pissed.

Have you guys ever noticed the Oiler (and Oiler fan) tendency to place square pegs being in round holes. I remember noticing it with Jason Arnott. He would have been an awesome second line guy, but instead people expected him to be a superstar when he really wasn't. Granted he sometimes floated around center, but he has looked pretty awesome ever since he left and has been playing on the second line for NJ, Dallas, and Nashville.

Penner and Cole remind me of Arnott. Sometimes they aren't awesome, but have the ability to be deadly when they get going. They are second line guys - and I am happy to have them.

Other players who I remember being second/third line players expected to play like first line superstars are Lupul (as described by JW), Corson, Carter, Peca, Marchant, Torres, and Comrie.

All of these guys have skill, but should not have been expected to be first line players.

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#8 Jonathan Willis
December 11 2008, 09:51AM
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@ Cam:

Completely agree.

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#9 bingofuel
December 11 2008, 09:58AM
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@ Jeremy:

Wow, I actually LOLed at this. That's probably one of the most hilarious stories I've read, Jeremy.

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#10 The Towel Boy
December 11 2008, 10:20AM
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@ Jeremy:

Classic.

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#11 Hoodlum
December 11 2008, 10:35AM
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@ Jeremy: I feel bad for his bathroom, he probably missed the toilet bowl when he puked.

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#12 Gord
December 11 2008, 10:55AM
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@ Jeremy: That reminds me of the story my co-worker told me. She was out with her boyfriend celebrating with his co-workers and they ran into Raffi Torres. She said he was absolutely hammered and he invited her and some of the other girls to the back room to do some coke. I asked her if she was sure it was Torres and she said she could bring her shirt in that she was wearing and get the chest area finger printed if I didn't believe her! LMAO That was about a week after Torres came out in the paper and said that he was cleaning up his act and getting serious about his game.

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#13 Dennis
December 11 2008, 01:58PM
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If there was a Real media in the city;) someone would've written how Lupul was never a good fit to play in a city where hockey matters to more than just the 20k or so that show up to watch the games.

He really doesn't give much of a **** and he's as interested in excuses as anything else.

It was up to Lowe to know this and he gambled on the wrong horse.

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#14 The Towel Boy
December 11 2008, 03:27PM
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@ Gord:

That's definitely not the first time I've heard stories like that about Raffi.

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