Dustin Byfuglien will have telephonic hearing Thursday for violent cross-check on Rangers’ Miller

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Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports

Winnipeg Jets apex predator Dustin Byfuglien could be facing a five-game suspension for his “vicious, deliberate” cross-check on New York Rangers forward J.T. Miller.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced on Wednesday that Byfuglien’s actions in Tuesday night’s game will be evaluated in a telephonic hearing on Thursday. A telephone hearing carries a maximum suspension of five games, and it seems possible that Byfuglien could miss the balance of the regular season.

Read on past the jump.

Here’s the incident in question, in which Byfuglien gives a prone Miller a brutal two-handed check to the neck area:

That’s deserving of a lengthy suspension. In fact the Jets might count themselves as being lucky that Byfuglien wasn’t extended an invite to take part in an in-person hearing for the check.

The timing of this is enormously inconvenient for a Jets team that has five games remaining on the schedule, and isn’t too firmly ensconced in a playoff spot. Currently the Jets are two points up on the Los Angeles Kings for the second Western Conference wild card spot, though the Kings have a game in hand and hold the tiebreaker by virtue of having 35 regulation or overtime wins, in comparison with Winnipeg’s 32. 

It’s a tough situation and with or without Byfuglien Winnipeg is going to need to start winning some games here. According to Blake Micah McCurdy’s point projection model, the Jets currently have the ninth best odds of securing a Western Conference playoff spot:

As our fearless leader Garret Hohl put it, “It’s essentially a three sided coin toss at this moment for which team between Calgary, Los Angeles, and Winnipeg misses.”

That’s not really where you want to be with five games remaining. It’s especially not where you want to be when you consider that the Jets may have to play some or all of those five games without their single most impactful skater…