Even if the Jets won’t admit it – Dustin Byfuglien’s behavior is hurting them

Matt Larkin
Dustin Byfuglien. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

It was magical seeing towel-waving Jets fans pack the MTS Centre for Winnipeg’s first playoff game in 19 years Monday night. Still, it was a night to forget for the Jets, who blew their third straight third-period lead and lost to the Anaheim Ducks in overtime, falling behind 3-0 in the Pacific Division semifinal.

It was an especially nightmarish evening for Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who was on the ice for three of Anaheim’s five goals and sucker-punched Corey Perry after Perry scored in the second period, a-la Dale Hunter’s attack on Pierre Turgeon. Perry turned out to be fine, but it didn’t make Byfuglien’s actions any less selfish and dumb. The play was over.

So, over the past 22 days, we’ve seen the following acts from Dustin Byfuglien, arguably the Winnipeg Jets’ best, most important player:

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Prospect Hot List: Foley will keep Friars flying

Cedar Rapids winger Erik Foley (photo by Brandon Anderson/BA Photos)

While I try to reserve this space for players up for this year’s draft or ones who have already been picked, there’s a treasure trove of 2016s at the world under-18s right now. Auston Matthews just broke Patrick Kane’s U.S. NTDP scoring record, while Finland is getting a huge performance from Patrik Laine (Jesse Puljujarvi’s playing pretty well, too). And Dmitri Sokolov of Russia is already on the minds of NHL scouts. With that established, let’s take a look at some of the other great youngsters in the game today.

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Even in defeat, Jets faithful show why NHL should have never left Winnipeg

Jared Clinton
The 'Whiteout' was in full effect Monday in Winnipeg (Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

When Lee Stempniak scored the game-opening goal for the Winnipeg Jets, the crowd inside MTS Centre reached volumes of 124 decibels, according to Sportsnet. That’s as loud as sandblasting or a rock concert. Matter of fact, and as apropos as it may seem, it’s also nearly as loud as a jet engine.

But that’s been the storyline all along; as great as it may be to see the Jets in the post-season, it was Winnipeg’s chance to show everyone what kind of fanbase they are on a national stage. It was time to prove to those who believed the city wasn’t right for an NHL team they couldn’t have been more wrong. And from warm-ups, when the volume was over 100dB, until the game’s final whistle, the fans brought it.

“This has been a night that has been 19 years in the making,” commissioner Gary Bettman said. “You can feel the energy in the city. It’s palpable. What I find particularly interesting, as I’ve travelled the league the last week, the question I got most frequently was, ‘Going to Winnipeg Monday night?’ because everyone knows that this is going to be a special night.” Read more

Rickard Rakell silences MTS Centre crowd with OT winner, Ducks lead series 3-0

Jared Clinton
Rickard Rakell (Lance Thomson/Getty Images)

Through the first two games of the first-round series between Winnipeg and Anaheim, the Jets have gone into the third frame with the lead. Game 3 was much the same, but again, the Ducks clawed back in the third period to tie up the contest. However, Monday’s outing was the first of the series to go to extra time.

In overtime, it didn’t take long before Anaheim completed the comeback. Little more than five minutes into the extra frame, Rickard Rakell stripped Mark Scheifele of the puck behind the net where it was scooped up by Andrew Cogliano and sent back to Francois Beauchemin. Beauchemin, the crafty veteran blueliner, fired a low, hard shot toward Rakell, who deflected the puck between Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec’s legs: Read more

Watch and listen to Winnipeg crowd explode after first post-season goal at home

Jared Clinton
Lee Stempniak (Jonathan Kozub/Getty Images)

The MTS Centre, the Winnipeg Jets’ home arena, is located four blocks from the city’s main intersection at Portage and Main. That said, there’s no doubt pedestrians passing through the heart of downtown Winnipeg heard the building erupt when Lee Stempniak scored the franchise’s first post-season home goal since the club relocated to Winnipeg.

In the first frame, the Jets broke away on an odd-man rush thanks to defenseman Jacob Trouba jumping into the play. Trouba made a beautiful toe-drag around an Anaheim defender before firing a wristshot on goal that Adam Lowry batted without looking back towards the goal. Stempniak, who was coming in from the left wing, was right there to bang the puck into the wide-open cage. And then, bedlam: Read more

Ducks’ Silfverberg solves Pavelec in heartbreaker for Winnipeg Jets

Josh Elliott
Ondrej Pavelec

Jakob Silfverberg broke a 1-1 tie and spoiled an incredible performance by Ondrej Pavelec to give the Anaheim Ducks the win and a 2-0 lead in their series with the Winnipeg Jets.

Silfverberg’s lightning-quick release beat Pavelec from the bottom of the left circle with only 21 seconds remaining on the clock.

It was an unexpected end to another bone-crunching, tightly-contested affair between these teams that seemed destined to go deep into overtime.
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Which Game 1 loser faces the most pressure to win Game 2?

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

If you’ve just lost Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs or if you’re annoyed at the header of this article, you’re likely thinking, “Sheesh, it’s one game, this is not news, mountain out of a molehill,” etc. And you’d be right in certain cases. You’d be wrong in others, however. No two series are created equal, and some Game 1 defeats were more alarming than others.

Here’s a brief rundown of the Game 1 losers, ranked from most justified in panicking to least.

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Winnipeg will need to focus on discipline after Game 1 loss to Anaheim

Jared Clinton
Ryan Kesler and Blake Wheeler battle (Debora Robinson/Getty Images)

Throughout the entire regular season, the storyline for the Winnipeg Jets was the same: everything can be clicking, but at times a lack of discipline comes back to haunt them when it matters most. In Game 1 against the Anaheim Ducks, that was exactly the case.

For 39:27, the Jets, who took the most penalties of any team in the league during the regular season, had managed to stay out of the box. Then, with only 33 seconds remaining in the second period, Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele took exception to a hack from Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler in front of the net, turned and bopped the Ducks center in the face. If there was a turning point Thursday evening, it was that penalty. Read more