Noel: Byfuglien ‘not happy’ with his game


Dustin Byfuglien went pointless with a minus-3 rating in a 6-5 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday.

One day later, Claude Noel acknowledged that Big Buff was struggling.

“Dustin knows where he’s at with his game,” the Winnipeg head coach said, per the Jets’ Twitter feed. “We need him to be better. He’s trying. He’s not happy.”

The last few weeks have not been a happy time for Byfuglien.

While the big-bodied defenseman keeps piling up points — 32 in 45 games, tied for fourth in the NHL among d-men — his defensive play has been erratic and he admitted to playing “too fast” recently. Byfuglien has a team-worst minus-14 rating this season (next worst is Olli Jokinen, at minus-7) and a team-high 55 giveaways (next closest is Jacob Trouba, with 31).

Byfuglien was also recently passed over for the U.S. Olympic team, which including a less-than-stellar review from members of the selection committee. From ESPN:

Byfuglien continues to be a loose cannon even in theory.

“We don’t yet know who the best players are,” Poile says. “Can we trust Byfuglien to play in this tournament?”

If there are injuries, is he the kind of guy who could move up and play in the top six?

“Can we trust him?” Poile wonders aloud.

Or do they need a more consistent player?

Tallon, for one, doesn’t think they need both Yandle and Byfuglien.

“You know I’m not a big Byfuglien guy,” Burke notes. But he seems to have committed himself to being in better shape and improving his game. “And no one can pound the puck like him,” he adds.

The group’s Man On The Prairie, Don Waddell, warns that early on Byfuglien has struggled.

Yes, he’s an offensive presence but, “If he’s going to have to play minutes defensively, boy, right now he’s a high-risk guy,” Waddell says.

Don’t be surprised if this leads to another round of Byfuglien trade rumors. The 28-year-old is in the third of a five-year, $26 million deal ($5.2 million cap hit) and has a modified no-trade clause, but could be made available given the Jets have a lot of money already invested in the likes of Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom, and appearing to have a blossoming star on their hands in Trouba.

High-flying Bruins (sounds weird to say) beat Rangers for fifth straight win

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Somebody tell the Boston Bruins there’s a goal-scoring crisis in the NHL.

This afternoon, for the 14th time this season, a Bruins game featured at least six goals. The final score was 4-3, as Boston came back to beat the Rangers in a wildly entertaining Thanksgiving Showdown on NBC.

David Krejci scored the winner with 1:43 remaining. Krejci’s goal came just 2:03 after teammate Ryan Spooner had tied it on the power play.

The win was the Bruins’ fifth straight. Though the defensive mistakes remain…

…Claude Julien’s troops have been finding ways to overcome them.

The running and gunning Boston Bruins.

When was the last time you could call them that?

Goalie nods: Prized Jets prospect Hellebuyck makes NHL debut

Joshua Morrissey, Jason Pominville, Connor Hellebuyck
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The future of Winnipeg’s goaltending will be on display tonight in Minnesota.

Connor Hellebuyck, the highly-touted prospect that starred for Team USA at the 2015 World Hockey Championships, will make his NHL debut today when the Jets take on the Wild at Xcel.

Hellebuyck is up with the Jets following an injury to No. 1 (or, “No. 1”) netminder Ondrej Pavelec, who’s out until January with a lower-body injury. An AHL All-Star a year ago, Hellebuyck arrived in Winnipeg with great fanfare and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds to the hype and pressure that come along with his first-ever big league start.

For the Wild, Devan Dubnyk‘s in goal.


Corey Crawford goes for Chicago in Anaheim. No word yet on who the Ducks will have in goal.

Braden Holtby starts again for Washington, as the Caps host the Bolts. Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter, much like the Ducks.

Marc-Andre Fleury takes on Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus tonight, as the Blue Jackets host the Penguins.

Mike Condon is back in the starter’s role for Montreal with Carey Price sidelined, and his first order of business is a road date against Cory Schneider and the Devils in New Jersey.

Cam Ward faces Chad Johnson as Buffalo welcomes the ‘Canes.

— The Isles will start Jaroslav Halak in Florida. The Panthers will counter with Roberto Luongo.

Cam Talbot finally gets back into the starter’s role tonight in Detroit. Jimmy Howard will go for the Wings.

— It’s Ryan Miller versus Antti Niemi as the Canucks take on the Stars in Dallas.

— Even though Jonas Hiller is healthy and Joni Ortio‘s in the minors, Calgary will stick with Karri Ramo in Arizona. The Coyotes are going with their No. 1, Mike Smith.

‘We’re still right in the hunt for everything’ — Parise will play tonight versus Jets

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For the first time since Nov. 5, Zach Parise will suit up for the Minnesota Wild.

The team confirmed today that Parise will be in the lineup tonight at home versus Winnipeg. The 31-year-old forward has missed the last eight contests with a sprained MCL.

The Wild were 7-2-2 before Parise got hurt. They lost the game against Nashville in which he suffered the injury, then went 4-3-1 without him.

“I’m just hoping to get back to form as quick as possible and go from there,” Parise told the Star Tribune. “I’m not thinking I need to score right out of the gate, I just want to play. … We’re still right in the hunt for everything. We’ll be fine.”

After ’embarrassing’ loss to Sens, Stars motivated for Canucks

Milan Michalek, Antti Niemi
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The Vancouver Canucks will face a pretty motivated Dallas Stars team tonight at American Airlines Center.

Blame the Ottawa Senators. They were the ones who smoked the Stars, 7-4, on Tuesday.

“It brings you back down to earth,” captain Jamie Benn told the Stars’ website. “You learn that any team can come in here and whip your butt. It was embarrassing for us, especially in our home rink and in front of our home fans. We don’t want that to happen again.”

The Stars have had their way with the Canucks in recent years. The last time Vancouver won in Dallas was Feb. 21, 2013. Since then, victories have included scorelines like 5-1, 4-1, 6-1, and 6-3.

The Stars have already hosted the Canucks once in Dallas this season. On Oct. 29, they fought back from a 3-1 third-period deficit to win, 4-3, in overtime.

Dallas (17-5-0) has yet to lose consecutive games this season.