Dustin Byfuglien of the Chicago Blackhawks is spending this year’s playoffs causing headaches for NHL teams, mostly goalies, as he plants his 275 265 255 lb. frame firmly in the crease in an attempt to block the vision of opposing netminders. His main purpose is to get into their heads, cause a distraction, and hopefully deflect a shot or two. Big Buff as he’s known in Chicago has made quite the name for himself as he does his best Tomas Holmstrom imitation, while getting some timely goals, frustrating these netminders, making them angry, and sad at the same time. Just ask Bobby Lose:
Buff lit up Louie again in this year’s Western Conference Semi-Finals as he got into the head of the mentally weak netminder all series. He did the same thing last year as well, but some people never learn. You would think that the Canucks, Luongo, and head coach Alain Vigneault would have changed their game plan from last year. Nope. After getting a hat trick in game three of this year’s Conference Semi Final, the media in Vancouver went into a frenzy over how to move Buff out of Luongo’s way. The Canucks ended up paying more attention to that, and and ended up frustrating themselves right out of the playoffs. For the second year in a row!
Now he’s turned his attention to San Jose’s Evgeny Nabokov in the Conference Finals. Only this time Buff has displayed another element of his game. The slap shot. Which he used in game one to send the Hawks to a 2-1 victory over the Sharks. Nabokov a goalie smaller than Luongo, is hoping his defencemen in front of him can help clear the crease so he can see the pucks that are coming at him. In game two Big Buff with his big arse firmly planted in front of Nabokov tipped in a shot from long range during the Hawks 4-2 win. The Hawks now have a two games to none series lead and the games move back to the Windy City Friday night.
The problem for San Jose is that Buff is on a line with young stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. If your defence spends too much time on those two, that leaves Buff time to create chaos in front of the net. If you spend your time trying to move him (you can’t), that leaves more room for Kane and Toews. The line which Hawk forward Patrick Sharp promises to have a name for by Friday’s game, is now the number one line in the playoffs, as Jonathan Toews leads all players with 23 points and Kane has 18 of his own.
How do you stop him? Maybe you can’t. How do you move him? You probably don’t. Can you move him ? When asked this very question by a Vancouver reporter, Buff said very modestly, “I don’t think so”.
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