For a long time in the NHL, there was an unfair bias against small players. Time and time again, incredibly skilled but small players wouldn’t get the same opportunities big, physical players would get. Many would say this bias still affects the decision making of coaching staffs filling in lineup cards today. I firmly believe that it’s not important if a player plays a skill game or a physical game. The style is meaningless.
Players with good results should be rewarded and given opportunity and players with poor results should be relegated to the bench or the pressbox. I also feel that there has been an overcorrection and big, physical players are, at times, not getting credit for their positive production. Which leads me to Adam Lowry…
Adam Lowry is amazing and if you disagree you should feel bad.
During the dog days of summer, when Jets fans have little else to do, many potential line combinations have been bandied about twitter and other corners of the internet (including here). One constant, it seems, is that Adam Lowry is pencilled in on the 4th line. With the departure of Paul Stastny, the search is on for someone to fill the 2nd line center role, with Jack Roslovic being a popular choice. I, too, hope that Roslovic is given more opportunity this season, but does Lowry deserve more than a 4th line role? What do his results say?
To emphasize just how incredible Adam Lowry performed last year, let’s compare his results to another centerman, Patrice Bergeron. Why Bergeron you ask? Isn’t he an elite 1C that many claim is the one of the best two way centers of this generation? It’s because he is the only forward in the NHL last season to play more than 200 mins and have a better CF% than Adam Lowry.
See if you can determine from these 2017-18 stats which is the centerman some are pencilling in on the 4th line for the Jets and the one who many view as a top 5 centerman in the NHL:
Hard to distinguish, isn’t it? They are nearly identical in scoring rates and CF%, while player B destroys player A in xG. What makes that even more impressive is the fact that Player B was buried in the defensive zone, while Player A received a generous offensive zone deployment.
So, who’s who? You guessed it! Adam Lowry is Player B.
Now, let’s consider the other players on their lines. Bergeron was part of perhaps the most dominant lines in hockey last season, playing alongside David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. Alongside these two superstars, this line seemed unstoppable at times. Adam Lowry on the other hand played the majority of his time with Andrew Copp and Brandon Tanev. If Nic Petan was playing alongside these players, no doubt some would claim this was Paul Maurice putting him in a position to fail. Let’s compare the results Copp and Tanev put up with and without Lowry.
|Player A||Player B||TOI||CF%||HDCF%|
|Adam Lowry||Andrew Copp||409:40||59.6||66.67|
|Adam Lowry||w/o Andrew Copp||123:34||51.74||57.78|
|w/o Adam Lowry||Andrew Copp||528:52||49.16||50.31|
|Adam Lowry||Brandon Tanev||370:45||58.28||66.09|
|Adam Lowry||w/o Brandon Tanev||162:31||56.35||60.71|
|w/o Adam Lowry||Brandon Tanev||269:34||42.14||46.25|
Based on these stats, who seems to be truly responsible for the success of the Copp-Lowry-Tanev line? It seems clear that without Lowry, the performance of Copp and especially Tanev suffers. Lowry is particularly fantastic at defending the high danger area in the defensive zone.
(An interesting aside: In over 300 mins together, the CLT line only allowed one goal from the high danger area in front of the net, while scoring 10 for a 90.91 HDGF%!)
Is the point of this cursory analysis to claim that Adam Lowry is a better player than Patrice Bergeron? No. Bergeron plays big minutes against the oppositions best and dominates them. He is an important part of, perhaps, the best line in the NHL.
So, what is the point? Adam Lowry deserves an opportunity to play with more skilled players. Despite being thought of by some as unskilled offensively, he has produced very well in his minutes while being among the best at tilting the ice in the NHL. In fact, Lowry is one of only eight forwards last season who put up more than 2.0 P/60 while being over 55CF%. A list which includes players like Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Jaden Schwartz, and Artemi Panarin.
Lowry only had a chance to play 11 minutes and 10 seconds with Patrik Laine last season. Perhaps a sample so small it could be meaningless, but consider: They generated 19 corsi events and only gave up 7. They produced 12 shots and only gave up 2. Could Adam Lowry be the big, physical player that could help Patrik Laine create space for his otherworldly shot? If Lowry and Mathieu Perreault played with Laine would they spend every shift in the offensive zone where that shot that can score from anywhere could do the most damage? I, for one, would like to see the results.