Florida Panthers v Winnipeg Jets

The Jets expect big things from Big Buff


The Winnipeg Jets had one of their best games of the young season when they hammered the Lightning 5-2 at the MTS Centre. Dustin Byfuglien led the way with a goal, an assist, and #1 star of the night honors. It’s no coincidence that the Jets’ best game of the season came during their most important player’s best game of the year.

Head coach Claude Noel saw it the same way. “This was Dustin’s best game with the Jets,” he said. “He’s got a lot of tools. He can be a great player, not just for us but in this league. He can be outstanding.” First thing is first though. He needs to be a great player for the Jets. Then we can start talking about Byfuglien as one of the best defensemen in the league.

Byfuglien is in an interesting situation in that the Jets depend on him so heavily to contribute offense from the blueline. He was the second leading scorer in Atlanta last season and he’s well on his way to be among the team’s leaders against this season. Forwards included.  That may say more about the forwards than it says about Byfuglien though.

The difference between Byfuglien being “good” and “elite” was on full display against the Lightning on Monday night. He was all over the place—both offensively AND defensively. When he finds the right balance between the risky offensive defenseman and the imposing, physical defender, he’s the kind of guy who can be a difference maker on a Stanley Cup contender. He’s already proven that much. When he struggles to find the right balance, he’s the out-of-shape player that some Jets fans think is overpaid and should be traded for a bag of pucks.

Rest assured, Claude Noel wants to figure out a way to keep last night’s version around as long as possible. If he can, the Jets may find a way to climb out of the Southeast Division cellar.  Otherwise, it will be a long winter in Winnipeg.

Patrick Kane’s streak hits 19 games, setting a new American record

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When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.

With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).

As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.

Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.

So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?


You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.

Price paid: Devils come back against Condon, Canadiens

Mike Condon, John Moore,
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If nothing else, the New Jersey Devils seem like they won’t be the sort of team a contender can essentially mark off as a “W” on their calendars.

The Montreal Canadiens may not be in a position to take opponents lightly with Carey Price on the shelf, but whatever the case may be, they saw their four-game winning streak end in frustrating fashion on Saturday.

After falling behind 2-0, the Devils scrapped their way back into it, eventually riding a John Moore overtime goal to a 3-2 OT win.

If Montreal needs an obvious bright side to look on considering this hiccup, Alex Galchenyuk‘s hot weekend may be a good thing to look at.

Tonight’s loss may smart a bit anyway, however.

Metro’s best? Capitals keep winning, pass Rangers for division lead

Jonathan Bernier; Matt Niskanen; Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:

“Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”

The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.

Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:

With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.

Measuring stick stretch begins

Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.

This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.

It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.

In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.