On Wednesday, NHL insider Bob McKenzie spoke with NBC’s Liam McHugh about the nasty cross-check Dustin Byfuglien delivered to J.T. Miller during Winnipeg’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday night:
Byfuglien, as McKenzie notes, will have a telephone hearing at 10:30 a.m. ET on Thursday morning, meaning the maximum suspension length is five games. While the incident was ugly, two things are working in Byfuglien’s favor: 1) no history as a repeat offender, and 2) Miller wasn’t injured on the play.
That said, those factors are offset by the graphic video evidence against Byfuglien. As McKenzie notes, “it was vicious, and it deserves to be penalized.”
Winnipeg has five games remaining in its regular season: Saturday versus Vancouver, Monday in Minnesota, Tuesday in St. Louis, next Thursday in Colorado and then the regular-season finale, at home, against Calgary on Saturday, Apr. 11.
Byfuglien to have phone hearing for Miller cross-check
The cross-check, which went uncalled, didn’t force Miller from the contest — he continued taking shifts and assisted in Chris Kreider’s game-winning tally with less than four minutes remaining.
Per TVA’s Renaud Lavoie, Byfuglien’s hearing will be of the telephone variety, meaning any potential suspension length will be five games or fewer. Had the Department of Player Safety wanted a stiffer punishment, an in-person hearing would’ve been offered.
Jets in tough to make playoffs after ‘brutal’ loss to Rangers
It was the second straight painful loss for the Jets, who fell 4-3 to Chicago on Sunday on a goal by Jonathan Toews with just 31 seconds remaining, and it dealt a serious blow to Winnipeg’s chances of making the playoffs.
“This is brutal, to be honest,” said forward Mathieu Perreault, per the Winnipeg Free Press. “It’s unacceptable, really, at this time of the season. We’ve just got to regroup and put it behind us because it’s going to do us no good to keep thinking about those two games.
“We’ve got to bear down, especially at the end of the games. It’s unacceptable.”
As we noted yesterday, the Jets had a comfortable playoff cushion coming out of the All-Star break. Tomorrow, they could be bumped out of the final wild-card spot if the Kings beat the Oilers at Staples Center. According to Sports Club Stats, their postseason chances have fallen below 50/50 to 48.6 percent.
It’s estimated the Jets will have to go around 3-2-0 in their final five games to get in. They have two home games remaining, versus Vancouver and Calgary, and three road contests left, in Minnesota, St. Louis and Colorado.
Winnipeg is now 13-12-4 since the All-Star break.
‘Could’ve broken his neck,’ says Vigneault of Byfuglien cross check on Miller
The Rangers did get revenge: A 3-2 victory that saw Chris Kreider burn Byfuglien with terrific speed for the winning goal, assisted by Miller, and Byfuglien penalized in the final minute for a slash, greatly hindering any chance Winnipeg had of a last-minute tying goal.
“Violent, deliberate. Could have broken his neck. It was one of the most vicious cross-checks I’ve seen this year,” said Vigneault, the Rangers head coach, as per Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun.
Jet's Dustin Byfuglien's crosscheck on JT Miller is being given extra examination by NHL Player Safety.
The incident occurred with Miller down on the ice, and Byfuglien standing right over top of him before delivering the cross check.
But Byfuglien was called for a slash with less than 40 seconds remaining in the third period and his team trailing the Rangers by a goal, basically nullifying the chances of a last-minute comeback, as Winnipeg lost by a final score of 3-2.
Miller got the last laugh, assisting on the winning goal from Chris Kreider with less than four minutes remaining.
Could the non-call cross check on Miller be an incident the NHL’s safety department looks at for possible supplemental discipline?
What an incredible no-call as Byfuglien cross-checks J.T. Miller's head into the ice. Vigneault is losing it on the refs
Winnipeg’s loss in regulation keeps them at 90 points.
It also keeps them within quick striking distance of the L.A. Kings, who are on the outside of the playoff picture, looking in, only two points back of the Jets for the final Wild Card spot in the West.