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.

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
Leave a comment

You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?