After scoring a goal in five consecutive playoff games, Big Buff was held off the scoresheet in Chicago's 6-5 victory over Philadelphia in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday. In over 15 minutes of ice time, Byfuglien managed two shots on goal and -- like linemates Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane -- was a woeful minus-three.
The two shots on goal were not the problem -- Byfuglien has always been, oh, economic with his scoring opportunities -- but his failure to contribute on any of his team's six goals was a surprise. He scored a goal in each game of the Blackhawks' four-game sweep of the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final, including three game-winners. With a hat trick in Game 3 of the second round against Vancouver, the 6-foot-4, 257-pound left wing had scored eight goals in eight games before Saturday.
Get back to the net, Byfuglien.
"I've got to go and just stand there," Byfuglien said after the Blackhawks' morning skate at United Center on Monday. "We didn't get a power play, so I didn't get as many chances to stand in front."
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Byfuglien was referring to Chicago's failure to produce a power play -- or the referee's decision to not provide them a single one. Still, the power forward will have to work harder 5-on-5 against 6-6 Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger, his presumed nemesis for the Cup final. Asked when a hatred would build up between him and Pronger, Byfuglien said, "It started around the time [the media] started bringing me and him up all the time."
Although the Flyers allowed six Blackhawks goals in Game 1, Pronger and his teammates shut down Byfuglien, Kane and Toews.
"We did a good job of denying them time and space," said Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger. "If they don't have the puck, they can't make plays. For a lot of their shifts we played in their end, forced them to play defense and really tried to deny the puck to Kane and Toews. The time they did get it, we closed on them quickly and forced them to dump the puck."
Just as Pronger knows the key is to make the opposition work harder, the Blackhawks want to make the veteran defenseman's shifts a lot more difficult. "We have to get the puck in their end more and bag," said Kane. "We have to do a much better job or controlling the puck and wearing their defensemen down."
Byfuglien guaranteed his net presence for the rest of the Final. "I'll be there to the end of it," he said.