The Difference between Byfuglien and Suter in Two Pictures

Big Buf wants some love

Before the game against Minnesota, Gary Lawless tweeted a not-so-subtle criticism of Dustin Byfuglien as part of the on going campaign to villify the star defender, stating it "should be an interesting exercise to compare the games of Buff and Ryan Suter."

I wrote about what Byfuglien does on this roster here – namely, play the leagues best forwards, possess the puck more than the opposition, and score on pace with Subban, Letang, and Erik Karlsson. But I realize the numbers are just one side of things.

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Inside are two photos that sum up the difference between Ryan Suter and Dustin Byfuglien better than any 1,000 words I can come up with.

Ryan Suter Breaking Out With No Forecheck

Even zoomed in at his face I can see two Wild players moving to give Suter a target for a pass. It’s hard to even get a picture of Suter carrying the puck in these scenarios because he always has people open for a pass and moving in the right direction.

Dustin Byfuglien Breaking Out with No Forecheck

One guy is standing still facing him (Thorburn). One is floating while checked at centre (Jokinen, he would tip this into the zone), and the third (Setoguchi) is skating behind coverage. 

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So What?

Bad teams trade their best players for not being better than they are. Good teams figure out ways to support their best players and coach in order to make them better. Right now the mainsteam media is on a campaign to run this team’s Erik Karlsson out of town – the second highest scoring defenceman in the league since he started at the position 4 years ago. There is no player waiting who can create that offence, and there is defintely no player waiting who can create that offence while being physical and playing against Jonathan Toews. Dustin Byfuglien is irreplaceable, even though he’s not Chris Pronger or Ryan Suter.  

We as Jets fans should be thankful for Dustin Byfuglien, and hopeful for the day that the breakout doesn’t look like a beer league team.

  • Kevin McCartney

    I wonder if a coaching change during the summer would have taken some of the heat off the star players.

    Say what you want about AV’s defensive tendencies, he knew how to put players in a position to succeed in Vancouver (aside from a rookie third line center with defensive lapses and a third pairing offensive defenceman).

    What’s with Canadian sports media taking runs at their best players? Does pessimism really sell that much better in the fan base?

  • Kevin McCartney

    True about AV. He helped his stars a ton.

    My experience in a journalistic environment tells me that it’s a matter of being required to focus on the star players combined with a loss of perspective. It would be great if Byfuglien was better, and if you watch the game focused only on him, that fact becomes gospel. At least, that’s the best I can come up with, because I do find it frustrating.

    • Kevin McCartney

      I don’t disagree, but think you’re being awfully generous, Kevin. I’d add to that: Generally poor quality of thought; pressure to generate material in a deadline-heavy environment; and an odd kind of self-importance where columnists come to believe that their storylines–the laziest being those that appeal to a fan’s frustration and anger–can shape a team’s decision-making.

      • Kevin McCartney

        I happen to think the answer is a simple one, print journalists on the Hockey beat tend to be under-educated about how the game is actually played and thus unable to properly scrutinize all but the most obvious errors without the puck. In the absence of real accountability for their level of knowledge they carry on in blissful ignorance.

        Star players are players with the puck on their stick a lot. Puck-carrying defensemen are especially noticeable as they play their position in a way that defies a certain amount of “conventional” hockey thinking. All the arrows are pointing in Byfuglien’s direction.

  • Kevin McCartney

    I love that opening shot of Buff in the celebration. Stuff like that, and Bogo’s rush when he plays to congratulate Pavelec on a win really make one feel like the Jets have some good chemistry “in the room” as is the common parlance.

    Call me crazy but isn’t Seto on the opposing blue line because his job on that set play is to be the 3rd man high/trailer into the zone, it seems like the problem on the play indicated is simply that Chris Thorburn is bad at hockey, no?

    • Kevin McCartney

      Yeah, I suspect you’re right about what’s happening in that still, X. I think Thorburn is supposed to be crossing so that Seto’s guy will try to close his lane so that Thorburn can pass to Seto beyond the red line going the right direction for entry. But, in fact, Thor is on the wrong wing and it might be a case of Seto normally doing that job (and so many more for Thorburn).

      It’s hardly a one time mistake for this team. They just skate away from their defencemen all the time, and there are no planned re-groups in their breakout as far as I can tell. The players can hesitate and wait, or they can go. There’s no reset condition. That’s also true of Bantam hockey.

    • Kevin McCartney

      What Yakupov did on that play was completely unacceptable, Pavelec and the rest of Jets were completely justified in taking exception to it.

      Of note: the post above it about players on the Jets and in the NHL at large that are not Jets goaltenders.