I wonder which question was asked more often around the hockey world on Friday night - "How do you pronounce 'Byfuglien'?" or "Who the hell is Dustin Byfuglien?"
The answer to the former is easy - BUHF-lihn. The answer to the second question? That's a little harder.
Byfuglien, an 8th round pick (245th overall) in the 2003 Entry Draft, is a 6'3", 246-pound defenseman from Minneapolis who is the seventh or eighth defenseman on the Chicago Blackhawks depth chart (he's also the fifth right wing on that same depth chart). He's not a terribly good skater, nor is he very coordinated, he's had conditioning issues (read: he was a fatass) and his poor grades kept him from playing in high school, and yet he's a highly-regarded prospect, due in large part to his booming shot from the point, clocked in excess of 100 mph.
And on Friday night, "Buff" let the big dog eat.
Byfuglien tallied a natural hat trick in just 5:29 during the first period of Chicago's rout of Phoenix and added an assist later on. For the night, Buff had the three goals and the assist, five shots on goal, five hits and added a pair of minor penalties for good measure. Not bad for a guy drafted in a round that doesn't even exist any more, eh?
So now you know how to pronounce Byfuglien. More importantly, now you know who he is.
Other Friday Finals:
- Devils 4, Canadiens 0. Zach Parise had a hat trick and an assist and Martin Brodeur improved to 34-12-5 in his career against his hometown team.
- Hurricanes 4, Capitals 3. The Caps had one goal overturned by video review and another washed out as it came a split second after the end of the second period. Rod Brind'Amour scored one goal from below the goal line and another on a high-stick deflection. That's kinda how the season has gone for the Caps and for Rod the Bod, who now has at least a point in every 'Canes win on the season.
- Penguins 4, Stars 1. Sidney Crosby notched a pair of goals (no surprise there) and Marc-Andre Fleury was sharp (there's your surprise).
- Wild 3, Blues 2 (OT). Marian Gaborik's wrister in overtime sent a home crowd of 18,568 home happy. My guess is that it was a pretty sweet scene.
- Oilers 5, Ducks 1. They love Chris Pronger in Edmonton, don't they? In the long run, they might love Dustin Penner even less.
- Sharks 3, Avalanche 2. Jumbo Joe Thornton led the Sharks (it's still early enough in the season for him to be doing so) with a pair of goals and Scott Hannan (who had a League-worst minus-14 rating entering the game) was booed in his return to San Jose.
A typically busy Saturday (including a decent matinee) gives us plenty of hockey, but, quite frankly, the selection leaves a bit to be desired (what -- you're psyched for Thrashers/Isles?). There are a few potential diamonds in the rough, however, and lousy pucks still beats the tar out of good hoops, so here are five games you might not want to miss:
- Rangers @ Senators. You had me at "2:00 PM EST," but you kept me with a team that can't score matched up against a team that's been giving up goals like AOL used to give out free first months of dial-up [bows head to corporate overlords]. The Sens have given up 23 goals in their last five games, and are now without one of their best defensive defensemen for a month. Something's gotta give. Or not.
- Penguins @ Maple Leafs. Got crappy ratings, Hockey Night In Canada? Here comes Sid the Adult to the rescue!
- Stars @ Flyers. A pair of first place teams square off in a battle of two teams who have fired Ken Hitchcock in the past half-dozen years.
- Blackhawks @ Blues. What will Dustin Byfuglien do next? Tune in and find out.
- Umm... Hurricanes @ Sabres? A rematch of the seven-game 2005-06 Eastern Conference Finals with the Sabres surging and the 'Canes in first place.
Finally, in case you were wondering, Dustin Byfuglien can chuck knuckles as well as score goals: