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Tough sledding for Buff

December has been most unkind to Jets' most important blue-liner

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DENVER -- It has been a tough month of December for the Winnipeg Jets' most important player on defence, Dustin Byfuglien.

A 15-game goalless drought ended Friday night with a contribution to the 6-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild, but Byfuglien's plus-minus rating has sagged to a team-worst minus-15.

On Friday, Byfuglien, in 25 minutes 24 seconds of work was on the ice for three of Minnesota's four goals (one on the power play). That was offset by two on the plus side, including his own, his seventh goal of the season.

But all that back-and-forth, up-and-down, combined with a forgettable minus-two outing earlier in the week in the 6-2 loss in Edmonton, has the big man frustrated.

"Yeah, it's frustrating," Byfuglien said Saturday, clearly irked with how things are going." It's not the easiest thing. But I've just got to stick with it. And (expletive), you can sit and yell and bitch and do as much as you can, but my teammates, they see it too and everyone's been like, 'Stick with it, it's going to change.'

Working hard

"There's nothing I can do about it so I just keep working hard. Finally the bounces will start coming and things will turn around, hopefully."

The matter of the team's frustration and fragility in recent weeks, which has seen it fall to 17-18-5 heading for tonight's game in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche, is also weighing on Byfuglien.

But he was adamant the group is not sitting idly by while problems mount.

"It doesn't matter if we're going good or bad, guys are on each other," Byfuglien said. "It's the locker-room. You see something bad, see something you don't like, you say something. At the end of the day, we're just trying to get better. That's all. You can't get mad at anybody besides yourself. You've just got to go and keep working."

Friday's win, which saw the Jets get a better grip than the Wild after a sloppy first period, does not gloss over anything, the defenceman said.

"I don't think it was any more light in (the locker-room) today," he said. "I think the mood is kind of the same. It definitely wasn't the way we wanted to win, but it's two points we can be happy about. We still have a long ways to go. And we've got a lot of (expletive) to do."

JETCETERA: The Jets were to take defencemen Mark Stuart (lower body) and Zach Bogosian (food poisoning) with them to Denver and Noel indicated both are possible, even likely, to play against the Avs.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 29, 2013 0

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