Monday, May 7, 2018
Big Buff has Winnipeg Jets on verge of West final berth
Dustin Byfuglien chased his dance moves for a small celebration of his last big goal, which, perhaps, caught many by surprise.
The 6-foot 5, 260-pound Byfuglien makes a great impression on the NHL playoffs at both ends of the ice, as the planes made their way to one victory at the first wharf of Winnipeg in the Western Conference Finals. Timely goals, strong defense, leadership - all this is part of his game. He dropped his jaws during the second round against the Predators, literally manipulating two players in Nashville, one each in each hand.
His journey back to the post-season was long, but the 33-year-old Byfuglien made Winnipeg his home and is the key reason that the Jets are Canada's last surviving team this season. The last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup was Montreal in 1993, and the 25-year drought was painful in the hockey house.
Winnipeg's captain Blake Wheeler considers Byfuglien "an excellent equalizer" and unlike others in the NHL.
Byfuglien makes the most of his deepest season after the season, helping Chicago win the Stanley Cup in 2010,
Not only was he a strong opponent of Nashville, having beaten a group that was often considered the best top four NHL defenders, Byfuglien heads all the defenders of this postseason with four goals. He is also associated with Boston Torey Krug for most points from 12, while riding an average of 26 minutes, 25 seconds of play.
Byfuglien began the Jets rally in Game 3 against Nashville with a deficit of 3-0, scoring the first goal, and his binding goal triggered his little dance. He was the winner in a match with a win in Winnipeg 6: 2 on Saturday night, which put the Jets on the edge of clincing only their second series - all after the season.
And Chicago gave everything possible in 2010. Byfuglien switched from defense to forward to Blackhawks and scored three winning goals in the San Jose race in the Western Conference finals for the first Stanley Cup finale with the franchise since 1992. hat-trick against Vancouver in the semifinals of the conference.
But the Blackhawks were tied to the size of paychecks after the extension of the contract for Jonathan Towers, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith, in addition to costly deals for Marian Hossa and Brian Campbell. Byfuglien was sold to the then Atlanta Thrashers, a franchise that moved to Winnipeg in 2011.
"There is only one Dustin Bethfulen, and you want him to be on your team," Little said. "You have no idea how this will be with the game against him. There is only one of them. You can not compare him to anyone there.
Winnipeg became the home of Byfuglien. The city is only 115 miles, like a crow, from where he grew up in Roseau, Minnesota. As the franchise moved to Winnipeg, Byfuglien married and has three children. Jets rewarded him in February 2016 with a five-year $ 38 million contract to make him a key element in Jets' future.
He's just not a big chatterbox. When asked where his dance appeared in Game 2, Byfuglien said that he did not know.
He is confident that he is talking with his teammates, trying to share his experience with this 2010 cup and offering tips on how to cope with what they hope is a two-month run.
"We obviously spoke as a group," said Byfuglien. "It will not be an easy trip. It's just one game at a time, one change at a time, and just believe in each other. "
Having a Big Buff around of course increases confidence,
"Every time he's on the ice, it's dangerous," Little said.