Dustin Byfuglien tips one past Semyon Varlamov (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
The big defenseman has been back at forward recently and Winnipeg has benefitted from his presence. Find out which position the Jets juggernaut prefers and what it's like to possess a booming shot.
Winnipeg's Dustin Byfuglien has been in the news a lot recently thanks to his unique methods of doing laundry, but let's not forget his impact on the ice for the Jets. The mammoth defender has been back up at the wing recently and tore it up offensively on the weekend, but does he actually like playing forward?
Not really. Byfuglien may be very good at playing that role, but the 6-foot-5, 260-pound force much prefers the blueline to the wing.
“You’re not in control of things," he said. "You’re chasing it. You can do a lot of good things up there, but on ‘D’ you see the game differently back on the point.”
'Big Buff' notched three points in Winnipeg's 5-3 win over Colorado on Sunday, playing on a line with Mathieu Perreault and Mark Scheifele. Amidst a swirl of turmoil involving Evander Kane and a six-game losing streak, the Jets needed the win over the Avs and Byfuglien put his stamp on the contest in several 'Big Buff' ways.
Of course his goal came on a tip in front of the net, where he has been so devastatingly effective in the past (just ask Roberto Luongo). And ask John Mitchell what it's like trying to stop the colossus as he rushes up the ice – assuming Mitchell wants to relive the steamrolling:
Keep in mind, Byfuglien only skated a few feet before that collision.
Power has always been a part of Byfuglien's game and much like Zdeno Chara in Boston, sometimes you wonder if he's more effective offensively for his point shot or standing in front of the net as a mountainous screen. Byfuglien does have a cannon of a blast and waxed poetic about really getting a hold of one while he was at the All-Star Game.
“It feels good," he said. "Just like if you hit a golf ball right down the fairway.”
And does Byfuglien play a lot of golf?
"No," he said matter-of-factly. "I don't."
Ice fishing is more his style, but obviously his big winter focus right now is getting Winnipeg into the playoffs for the first time since the franchise moved from Atlanta. No team in the West has played as many games as the Jets right now (55), so while the team does hold ownership of the top wild card slot in the conference, it's hard to say how firm that grip is.
No doubt the town is mad for hockey and the Winnipeg fans who have helped the team play to 100 percent capacity or better every season since the squad moved in 2011 would love to see some post-season action. The Kane incident may be dominating headlines now, but with the young power forward on the shelf with shoulder surgery until the summer, the Jets will need to keep the end goal in focus. That's what their defenseman/power forward had in mind as he finished up his all-star duties in Columbus.
“We’re focusing on keeping our team where it is now," Byfuglien said. "We’re sitting well and we’ve been doing well and it’s just a matter of sticking with it and playing good hockey.”
The win over Colorado was a start and even if Byfuglien prefers to play defense, a playoff berth would certainly cheer him up if he has to stay at forward.