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Buff makes presence known in All-Star Game

Thrashers defenseman scored and led all players in ice time in Team Lidstrom win

Sunday, 30.01.2011 / 9:18 PM / Feature
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Buff makes presence known in All-Star Game
Dustin Byfuglien scored a goal in his first NHL All-Star Game and was clearly enjoying himself since he hardly even got off the ice. In his first period of All-Star action he logged 8:09- the most of any player- and wound up being on the ice for a game-high 22:18, averaging 1:35 per shift. When it was pointed out to him after the game that he led every player in ice time, averaged over a minute and a half per shift, and was still -3 the big defenseman laughed.

"I guess some things just don't change. I definitely had some long ones out there where I got caught up. I got some grief between periods about it. I started laughing and was huffing and puffing when I came in. It was all good."

On being -2 five minutes into the game Byfuglien tried to pin it on his defense partner, Duncan Keith, who he was teammates with in Chicago.

"My D partner definitely wasn't very good out there. We definitely got on the minus boat right away."

But Byfuglien also credited Keith with helping spark the biggest comeback in All-Star Game history as Team Lidstrom bounced back from a 4-0 hole and won 11-10, thanks in part to a goal by Buff himself who scored his team's second of the night as they battled back to make it 4-4 by the end of the first ( watch the goal).

"My partner today and I got a minus two right away and he said "Alright, I'm not going to end up stuck with this. We're going to pick our game up and go get it.'. We ended up winning it as a team."

Byfuglien's goal came on a nice feed from Blackhawk Patrick Kane who saw him pinching in and slid a pass through the crease. Nobody wants to be held pointless in a high-scoring All-Star Game and the Thrashers defenseman admitted that getting a goal out of the way made the rest of the game more enjoyable for him.

"Yeah, I definitely loosened up a little bit and it made things a lot easier out there."

Byfuglien also admitted that it was hard to keep track of the puck at times given that every pass was, fittingly, All-Star caliber.

"The puck moved around pretty quick out there. Most of the time it was on the tape. You're turning around and trying to follow the puck and you got a little dizzy out there. It was a lot of fun though and I think everyone enjoyed it."

As usual the game involved very little contact and nobody was credited with a hit, even though Byfuglien had joked with the media that he might throw one. In the end he thought better of it, and for good reason.

"I thought about it, but there are too many guys that are too shifty. If you hit them they'll come back and dangle on you and make you look bad. I just used my stick out there."

When it was all said and done

Byfuglien represented the Thrashers well, picking up points for his team in the skills competition and scoring in the big game, and he said he wouldn't make any changes to the new format.

"The guys get to have fun with it. The guys will work harder each year to get to be a captain. Hopefully I can do it again. Obviously we had two good captains and the alternates did a great job. Everyone did a good job picking the teams."

"I think a lot of people enjoyed it a lot more," he added. "It makes guys nervous out there not wanting to be picked last. It went smoothly though. It was fun."

There was some criticism from the media and NHL executives like Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke that the end of the draft ought to be reformatted to spare a player the embarrassment of being picked last, but Byfuglien disagreed, saying everyone is making too big of a deal out of it.

"It doesn't matter. Everyone is going to get ice time and get played. There are a lot of guys who weren't here that would have liked to be in that position. Winning a car is never a bad thing either, right?"

"I think it's alright to be picked last," he said. "But I'm still glad it wasn't me."

When it came down to it there was only one thing Byfuglien said he would have changed about the weekend- he would have had his defense partner Toby Enstrom with him. Enstrom was selected as an All-Star but had to withdraw due to a fractured finger.

"It would have been great (to have him in Raleigh). I was texting him between periods to check in on him and seeing what he was doing. We were sending jokes back and forth. I definitely would have liked having him here. If we had been on the same team it would have been fun."

Byfuglien doesn't think this was their only opportunity to be in an All-Star Game together though.

"He couldn't come but hopefully we can pick it up next year."

If both Byfuglien and Enstrom can maintain their All-Star caliber play for years to come (and there's no reason to think they can't) Thrashers fans should have a lot to look forward to, including a possible playoff drive this spring.

With the All-Star Game in the books the Thrashers return to action at Philips Arena on Tuesday against the New York Islanders followed by another home game on Thursday against the Calgary Flames.

For more form Dustin Byfuglien watch his post-game interview:




1 ANA 47 31 10 6 139 124 68
2 NSH 45 30 10 5 137 104 65
3 STL 46 29 13 4 148 111 62
4 CHI 47 30 15 2 148 108 62
5 WPG 48 26 14 8 135 117 60
6 SJS 48 25 17 6 131 132 56
7 VAN 45 26 16 3 124 114 55
8 CGY 47 25 19 3 136 125 53
9 LAK 47 20 15 12 129 126 52
10 COL 48 20 18 10 125 137 50
11 DAL 46 21 18 7 144 151 49
12 MIN 46 20 20 6 128 137 46
13 ARI 46 16 25 5 105 156 37
14 EDM 47 12 26 9 109 158 33


A. Ladd 48 17 23 11 40
B. Little 48 18 20 11 38
B. Wheeler 48 13 23 12 36
D. Byfuglien 48 12 19 9 31
M. Perreault 45 15 14 3 29
M. Frolik 48 10 16 8 26
M. Scheifele 48 7 19 6 26
E. Kane 33 10 9 4 19
A. Lowry 47 5 8 1 13
J. Trouba 32 4 9 4 13
M. Hutchinson 14 4 2 .935 1.90
O. Pavelec 12 10 6 .913 2.47
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