dustin-byfuglien

Photo: Bruce Bennett

Friday, Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien spoke to the media and talked about his uncertain future in Winnipeg.

The 30-year-old all-star defenseman is in the final season of a five-year, $26 million contract. Byfuglien is considered by Elliotte Friedman as a potential target of the Washington Capitals.

When asked if his preference was to stay in Winnipeg, Byfuglien was not convincing that he wanted to stay in the park-less city.

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

A few weeks ago, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that if Caps’ defenseman Brooks Orpik had a season-ending lower-body injury, General Manager Brian MacLellan would be interested in acquiring pending-UFA Dustin Byfuglien from the Winnipeg Jets. The 6’5″, 260-lbs. defenseman won a Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010 and has been named to three all-star teams.

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wey

Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America

The Capitals had a hard time getting offensive opportunities early in Thursday’s Caps-Jets game, but a wild scrum in front of Ondrej Pavelec during the first period was a chance to change all that. Somehow, inexplicably, the Jets kept the puck from crossing the goal line. Dustin Byfuglien, the Jets’ 6’5″, 265-pound defenseman-turned-forward (or vice versa… I’m confused), finally broke out and got the puck in neutral while facing down rookie blueliner Patrick Wey, whom Big Buff hit rather rudely just ten seconds earlier.

Wey got his revenge.

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Playing the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, Troy Brouwer scored a powerplay goal — his third of the year — off a pretty, pretty pass from Nicklas Backstrom. Brouwer got mobbed by his teammates, skated back towards the bench, and… hey wait a second.

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hendy-face

Note: I’m writing this post heavily medicated and a day after right-leg surgery. Yes, I’m hockey-player tough.

While the Washington Capitals got outplayed in the first period of Saturday’s game against the Jets, they came out strong in the second , scoring some goals and getting a little cocky. I love it when my favorite team gets cocky. Particularly because it can lead to a line brawl, one started by five-foot, ten-inch (yeah right) French Canadian Mathieu Perreault.*

After absorbing a legal shoulder-check from tough guy defenseman Zach Bogosian, Perry decided to get a lil’ saucy and slash Bogosian in the legs. Bad idea.

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Slipstream: Jets Strafe Caps 4-2

This pretty much sums up the night

This pretty much sums up the night. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

So our dads Peter and Ian decided to give your humble PuckBuddys the keys to the RMNB-car for recaps over the next few games. Ha! We promised them not to drive at dangerously high speeds with the top down while stealing people’s mail and laughing wildly. We promise you we won’t keep that promise.

Speaking of a wild ride, Tuesday’s geshrey was whether Adam Oates would pull his Caps back together under his new system, or whether they would revert to old ways/panic. Would this be the first home opener loss since the turn of the century? Would we rally from the Bolts shellacking and figure out our PK? Would Ribiero perform? Would Lady Mary really marry cousin Matthew? We have our answers.

10:02 in the 1st, Matt Hendricks gets the pass from Nicky for the first home score in almost a year, with a big crash o’ the net. That’s answered at 12:34 into the first, on a power play when the nasty Evander Kane sunk one on Holtby, unassisted. Andrew Ladd sinks a direct bullet at 16:26 – right through a non-existent Caps defense and a tired-looking Holtby (there, I said it.)

Second frame brought out a little toughness from both sides, with hopes on a Dustin Byfuglian penalty, yielding nothing. Kane knocks to Blake Wheeler, who then taps in at 14:32 to take the Jets up 3-1. PuckBuddys start crying. And then oh-noes: with less than a minute left, Slater tips in a dribbler for a boo-bird 4-1. Everyone grab your junk as Hendy puts Slater down after the horn; Verizon hall yawns.

In the third, an early Capitals power play nets Troy (handsome) Brouwer in the bin and washes out our chances. Remember when we were up in this game?  haha. Caps swarm to save Braden Holtby half-way in, which almost raises our spirits. Hendy tries to rally the team; nothing juicy follows. A spit more than 1 minute left, Troy-Boy (off Ribiero) swags it in but gives the Jets a PP.

JETS BEAT CAPS 4-2.

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Hunter Hockey, Jets beat Caps 4-3 (OT)

Photo credit: Rob Carr

Last time the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets met, Ovechkin got taunted and the Caps lost a slot in the standings. The Caps remembered and came out swinging this game. But then Dale Hunter enacted his formula for something, and everything went to hell.

Thanks to Jeff Halpern, Jason Chimera went cruising along in the O-zone, tucking the puck behind Pavelec with his backhand. Alex Ovechkin recorded two consecutive goals in the second– a subtle wristshot and a loud 6-on-5 one-timer. The Jets rallied back with goals from Maxwell and Little before the second intermission. The Caps had literally no offense (seriously, none) in third until Spencer Machacek tied it up.

Into overtime, where Stapleton won it. Jets beat Caps 4-3 (OT).

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This is a legal hit in Canada.

Heading into tonight’s game, there was no doubt that the Jets’ season was on the line. With a loss, they would fall six points behind the Capitals for the eighth and final playoff spot — all but essentially eliminating them from the playoff race. “These are games that define your team,” Evander Kane told The Washington Times’ Stephen Whyno. “And we’re going to see what we’re made of.” Sure are.

Predictably, the Jets came out fired-up and scored first. Andrew Ladd tallied his 24th goal of the season on literally a magical backhander. 22 seconds later, the Capitals responded, as Marcus Johansson perfectly placed a slap-pass onto Brooks Laich’s blade and watched him tip it in past a helpless Ondrej Pavelec.

Late in the second period, the Jets regained the lead as Nik Antropov out-worked Ovechkin to the front of the net to flip one past Vokoun. Mathieu “I’m teeny tiny like a leprechaun” Perrault managed to tie the game again on a third period power play. Unfortunately, Dustin Byfuglien and his big rear were too much to handle. Jets beat Caps, 3-2.

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A Timeline of Caps Goalies Giving Up Goals From Center Ice

Tomas Vokoun

Vokoun reacts after letting a Dustin Byfuglien shot from the red line go in. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

After Monday’s loss to the San Jose Sharks, the Capitals are 2-4-1 in February and find themselves in ninth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Caps have clearly struggled without superstars Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom, but the most bizarre aspect of the Capitals recent play has been their propensity for giving up goals from center ice.

The first goal of the Caps’ 5-3 loss to the Sharks was marked as having been scored from 69 feet since the puck deflected off Joe Pavelski, but the fluke bounce that got behind Braden Holtby came from another 80-foot shot that turned into a goal against. The terrible part is that we can say “another” — Pavelski’s goal Monday was the third puck shot from at least 80 feet that’s resulted in a goal this month. All three Caps starters in net this month, Michal Neuvirth, Tomas Vokoun, and Braden Holtby have allowed one each.

Let’s review this bizarre phenomenon.

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Winnipeg Jets Pregame: Now Boarding, ReSet Airlines

Doug Johnson, weaver of words, Puck Buddy. Connect with @PuckBuddys via a series of tubes.

The Puck Drop: Lesson – don’t waste all your good rival city bile in your first pregame post. You may get the hahas, but it doesn’t leave you much room for new jokes. Lesson: as we continue to repeat until GMGM hears us, there are two Caps teams. One team is Ninja Master, the other is Donkey Kong. There is no telling which will show up, and this must be fixed.

Lesson: do NOT write mouthy, taunting blog posts your team (or butt) cannot cash.

Lesson: if a team is going to win, it will win as a team. The Caps seem to have a hot-shot mentality of late; namely they play really well, until something unexpected happens. Not a first goal, as we seem to play better if we’re just one down, but a second, surprise goal. At that point you can almost see the shoulders schlump, the feet get leaden and the team lose heart, players scrambling to pump the sinking ship (almost like how and fans Verizon last night). Panic does not become a great team. Keep calm and carry on.

All of this is to say: we must be humble if we are to be great.

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