Should the Jets cut bait on Byfuglien?

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The Winnipeg Jets boast some polarizing players such as Evander Kane and Ondrej Pavelec, but none of them are quite like Dustin Byfuglien.

Really, the NHL has seen few – if any – specimens who resemble Big Buff. The Jets franchise’s recent track record of moves suggests that they’re happy to watch their core grow, yet some might wonder if the team would be wise to part ways with their hybrid defenseman-forward.

Let’s break down the factors at hand.

Breaking down

Breakdown is actually a useful phrase because some might worry that Byfuglien’s greatest asset – his mammoth size – might also be his greatest curse.

There’s no doubt that people wonder about his weight; in fact, his condition will almost certainly be a story – good or bad – once Jets training camp rolls around.

More seriously, he’s had some knee problems and other concerns, which is troubling since he’s already 28. While there are examples of players aging like wine, many only get worse with time (especially those with questionable fitness regimens).

Unique weapon

Word snobs fuss about the over-use of the word unique, but it might be appropriate when it comes to Byfuglien.

With the possible exception of Brent Burns, not many players can switch from forward to defense (or vice versa) and make an All-Star team that following season.

Some wonder if Byfuglien’s defensive play is lacking, yet others find that he’s been passable (if not good) in that regard.

And, really, Byfuglien’s offensive value as a rover likely makes up the difference. While his booming shot is a few miles per hour short of Zdeno Chara’s slapper, Byfuglien is often more daring when it comes to attacking the net and freelancing around the offensive zone.

It’s one thing to know when and where a scary shot is coming from, but what happens when that threat is more improvisational?

A tough call

In the grand scheme of things, it might come down to context.

The Jets could very well decide that he’s valuable, but the team might benefit more from a package that includes prospects and picks. At $5.2 million per season, he’s likely being paid properly, yet that might be just costly enough to prompt management to move on.

What do you think, though? Should the Jets stick with their big, unusual asset or sell him off to the highest bidder?

More Jets day at PHT

Is time for Trouba, Scheifele to step up?

Winnipeg pays big to maintain core

Pavelec has a lot to prove

Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way

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You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.

The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.

(Granted, Braden Holtby picked apart two of the three goals he allowed, and so on.)

Still, Alex Ovechkin shrugged off the disappointment in a way that wasn’t quite Rated R, but probably ranks in the PG-13 range:

The penalty element is interesting, though.

When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”

The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.

via Natural Stat Trick

It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).

Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens

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It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.

Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:

It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.

Judge for yourself in the highlights:

The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.

If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you, stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.