NHL

LOUGHLIN: White making a name for himself in N.J.

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When you think of the ' top six defensemen, what name comes to mind first? Most would think of , the captain and future Hall-of-Famer. Others would mention , Mr. Devil himself. Or , a member of Canada's gold-medal winning team in the 2002 Winter Olympics. But those who follow the sport closely know that is quickly, but quietly, making a name for himself. "Potentially, he could be an All-Star," says Daneyko. "It's up to him. He's very solid, has a physical aspect to his game and there's an upside to his offense. He has all the attributes you want as a defenseman." Big things were expected from White ever since the selected him 49th overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound native of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, broke in with the organization during their 2000 Stanley Cup championship season, playing in all 23 playoff games. The following season he made the team out of training camp, totaling 20 points in 82 games and finishing with a plus-32 rating. But last season he ended with just five points and a plus-six, his slump mirroring the club's drop-off. "I felt comfortable last year," White recalls. "But we weren't as determined as we are this year. I don't know why. You could blame it on a lot of things. I think it was just the group we had. We all kind of fell into a trance where we all just went through the motions. This year is a little different; everyone likes to work and we're determined to win." In the ' system of pairing one offensive defenseman with a stay-at-home partner, White is teamed with Niedermayer. As the season has unfolded, head coach Pat Burns has used the twosome more and more against the opponent's top line. "I like that responsibility," White explains."It's nice that Burns has confidence in us. Playing with 'Nieds' is a big help. He's such a good skater that it's hard for him ever to be caught out of position, he's that smooth." While White does not skate as smoothly as Niedermayer, he has improved dramatically in that area thanks to offseason training sessions spent in New Jersey while other players headed home for the summer. White has also improved in controlling his emotions. Coming up through junior hockey in the minors, White was always a willing fighter. Now he picks his battles wisely, while still maintaining a hard edge. "When I first came up I was always running around for the big hit, even if it wasn't there. I was wasting all my energy trying to do that rather than playing my position and when the hit's there, taking it. I learned from Stevens. You don't see big hits from him every single game, but when you do see one, you know it's a hit." may not be the most prominent defenseman, but when you see him play every game, you see just how good he has become. Matt Loughlin works as pre- and post-game host for Fox Sports New York's New Jersey telecasts, a capacity he has served in since 1990. He can also be seen calling play-by-play on selected telecasts, as well as hosting pre- and post-game shows for the New York Mets. Matt's commentary appears regularly on MSGNetwork.com.
Tagged: Devils, Scott Niedermayer, Colin White

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