The Blessing of Byfuglien

Dustin Byfuglien is one player that the Winnipeg Jets love to have some nights, but could do without other nights.

After watching a home game in Chicago this past week, it was apparent that Chicago fans loved their Big Buff when he was in a Blackhawks uniform.

For Jets fans, the same thing is happening – a love affair between #33 and the fans in Winnipeg.

But for me, it doesn't always mean you like Dustin Byfuglien.  

Just like any healthy relationship, you can love the person, but you don't always need to like them.

Watching Byfuglien over the course of the last month, it comes apparent he isn't always a blessing, but sometimes a curse.  His -4 rating over March has been indicative of his true play.  After a +5 February and an even January, it seems that Byfuglien is becoming more and more of a defensive liability.

A slow backcheck or a lazy play on the back end have resulted in more goals against than the Jets coaching staff would care for.  The Jets have a -17 goals for/goals against ratio, which is the worst for a team currently holding down a playoff spot.  The closest teams are the New Jersey Devils at -9 and the Dallas Stars at -8.  

Both teams either are very shutdown defensively or are very good offensively.

Despite his inconsistent defensive play over the last three seasons as a full-time defenseman, Byfuglien has been able to post 127 points in his last 178 games – one of the top producing blueliners over that time.

Along with his regular defensive partner Toby Enstrom, the Jets have one of the best offensive pairings in the league, but still lack that defensive shutdown capabilities.

A positive can be seen in that Byfuglien has improved from a -8 rating last year to a +1 rating this season so far, but there is much to still learn for the Jets Big Buff.

Love him or hate him, he is something the Jets need but sometimes can do without.