Goals: 0 Assists: 1 Points: 1
Shifts: 20 Ice time: 17 minutes 31 seconds
The Big Experiment — moving Byfuglien up front to forward from defence — has been tried before by Jets coach Claude Noel, the last time against the Montreal Canadiens last April. Working on a line with Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd, Byfuglien is greeted by cheers when he first steps on the ice in the opening minute and exits to a louder roar after he camps out in front of the net and a pair of Blue Jackets can’t move him. The big man does get some work on the point on two Jets power plays as well, and racks up close to eight minutes of ice time as a result. Not a bad start, overall, but relatively uneventful after the first shift.
A nightmare for the Jets, who give up four goals in the first 9:07 of the period to fall behind 4-1. And although Byfuglien is on the ice for Nick Foligno’s goal, it’s Toby Enstrom and Zach Bogosian who are the culprits on the defensive breakdown. Byfuglien hits the post on a power-play blast and then is in front of the Blue Jackets net along with Ladd when Toby Enstrom’s point shot beats Curtis McElhinney to pull Winnipeg closer at 4-2.
A good period by Byfuglien, who brings the crowd to life early in the frame by busting around Fedor Tyutin to set up Little in the slot for a chance and then, while working on the power play, it’s his point blast that leads to a rebound which Little deposits for his 15th goal of the season.
WHAT WE LIKED:
A much better outcome than the last time this move was attempted. He went to the hard areas, set up his linemates and was still effective on the power play.
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE:
His minutes were down, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It could be argued Byfuglien, when he’s on, has a chance to be more of an impact player playing defence than up front. But this — a decent performance when there were few overall from the Jets — screams out for more.
"I thought Buff was OK. He got good support from the fans early, which was good to see. He tried his best and created a few things. But I don’t know that anybody was real good."
— Ed Tait