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.
Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.
“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly.
So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.
That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”
The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.
“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”
That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.
Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen
The Arizona Coyotes might not be using John Scott‘s services after all.
The team waived him this afternoon, per Craig Morgan. It’s possible that the Coyotes are simply giving themselves options as Scott clearing would allow them to send him down quickly at any point until he plays in 10 games or 30 days pass. At the same time, any team looking for a gritty fourth-line forward or third-pairing defenseman might be tempted to claim him in light of his affordable $575K cap hit for the 2015-16 campaign.
Scott is an imposing presence on the ice at 6-foot-8 and 260 pounds, but he doesn’t bring much to the table other than his physical play and willingness to drop the gloves. In terms of offensive abilities, he’s among the least capable in the league. In fact, the four points he recorded last season with the San Jose Sharks represented a career-high for the 33-year-old.
Meanwhile, Dan Cleary went unclaimed on waivers, according to Bob McKenzie, setting the stage for him to be reassigned to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.