When the Chicago Blackhawks received a nice haul from the Atlanta Thrashers in a deal that featured Dustin Byfuglien, many people thought GM Rick Dudley gave up too much. Upon hearing that Dudley, coach Craig Ramsay and the jumbo-sized skater all agreed with the idea to move him back to his original position on defense, many people jeered.
(I was in that group to some extent, as I felt that the Thrashers’ greatest strength was their offensive ability on defense before adding Byfuglien.)
Well, it’s too early to officially say that Byfuglien and the Thrashers will make everyone eat some puck-flavored crow, but the experiment is passing with flying colors so far. Byfuglien’s highest moment as a Thrasher might have come tonight, as he scored a game-winning overtime goal and also produced an assist to help his team beat the struggling Buffalo Sabres.
Whether you judge him as a defenseman with a hellacious slapper or a gigantic winger whose big body can block the vision of even the largest goalies, he’s been outstanding in 2010-11. Byfuglien scored four goals and five assists for nine points in 10 games this season, with the only real blemish being his -4 rating.
It’s no accident that he’s producing at a higher level, either, as the skilled player is averaging far and away the most ice time of his six-year career, with more than 21 minutes per game. (He never averaged more than a little above 17 minutes per game in Chicago).
Now, one of the biggest critiques of Byfuglien’s game was that the enormous physical force would take a few nights off here and there, so it’s not safe to assume that he’ll maintain anything close to his near point-per-game pace during the entire year. Still, with that big boost of confidence he received from being frequently dominant during the 2010 playoffs, more ice time than ever and the financial incentive of a contract year, this could be a … well, Byfuglien-sized season for the young hybrid player.
It just goes to show you that the people paid to put together teams might know better than the rest of us every now and then.
Red Wings rally by Bruins in another game that evokes the Eighties
Things looked pretty grim for the Detroit Red Wings after the Boston Bruins chased Jared Coreau from the net with a quick 3-0 lead. Maybe the Red Wings took note that this has been a weird, high-scoring week in the NHL, because they rallied back and eventually won 6-5 via a shootout.
To recap the zaniest games of each day from this odd few days of hockey:
(That’s the coach’s answer to slamming a video game controller in a frustrating loss.)
Fitting in with this week’s other wilder contests, there were flurries of goals even beyond the trio that quickly gave Coreau the boot. The Red Wings warped a 4-1 Bruins lead to a 4-4 tie with three goals in a little more than 10 minutes of time.
Adam McQuaid then regained Boston’s lead 21 seconds after it was tied, but the Red Wings didn’t give up. Instead, they applied a ton of pressure in the third period until Gustav Nyquist tied it up with about three minutes left.
Detroit still has a long way to go to protect its remarkable playoff streak, especially when teams like the Bruins can at least salvage “charity points” with losses. If the Red Wings want to make an unlikely push, they’ll need to show the kind of resolve that was on display on yet another wild night in the NHL.
#RedWings win a game after allowing 4 first-period goals for the first time since November 1, 1991 vs Hartford
PHT brings you the hard-hitting math, as you know, so here’s the latest burst: Connor McDavid is more than a point-per-game player.
You see, he scored the 100th point of his promising NHL career, and he did so in just his 92nd career game on Wednesday. Let us remind you that he’s just 20 years old (and he turned 20 on Jan. 13). Yeah.
Point 100 came on via an assist on a Zack Kassian goal as the Edmonton Oilers went up 1-0 against the Florida Panthers.
Here’s the clip:
Considering how quickly McDavid got to 100 and how young he is, it tempts you to do all sorts of speculative math. Maybe you’ll even wonder where No. 97 will finish on all-time lists:
In case you're wondering, it took Jagr 118 games to get to 100 points. Of course, he's only 5 shy if 1,900 right now
In the video above, you can see Bob McKenzie lay out the Detroit Red Wings’ status as the trade deadline begins to look like more of a consideration.
Considering their playoff streak, it’s not that shocking that they’re at least struggling with the idea of being sellers. More than a few people probably did a double-take (or spit-take?) when McKenzie noted that management might opt to re-sign forward/remarkable reclamation project Thomas Vanek instead of moving him for assets.
It’s reasonable to question that logic, but then you see what he’s doing lately, particularly the chemistry he seems to be building with Andreas Athanasiou.
Wednesday’s gorgeous assist to Athanasiou illustrates some of that brilliance, if stats bore you:
If stats tell some of the story, well, they’re impressive. Vanek now has a seven-game point streak with the assist; if he doesn’t score another point, he’ll have 10 points during that span. He also has at least a point in 11 of his last 12 contests.
Athanasiou’s really “feeling it” lately, too. If he stays at a goal tonight, he’ll have five goals and eight points in his last seven games, only failing to generate a point in two of those contests. His speed and skill really seem to be coming to the surface, a great sign for the 22-year-old.
Still, Vanek is 32, and the Red Wings would need a heck of a run to even make the playoffs. So that’s where the discussion gets a little sticky.
There’s still time to sort that out, though. In the meantime, fans should enjoy what those two have been accomplishing, even if many want the window to close on that combo soon.