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NHL Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg Jets Need Dustin Byfuglien to “Be Better” According to Coach

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Winnipeg Jets are still stuck in their season-long slump. They started last week on a three-game winning streak, then followed it up with a three-game skid. During this time, they were outscored 14-9, and they’re currently eleven points out of eighth place in the west.

One of the issues appears to be the play of defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. Though he has two goals in his last three games and tied for second on the team in points, he’s also quite a defensive liability. His +/- rating is a miserable -14, good for worst on the roster (Olli Jokinen, the next lowest, is at -7). Not helping matters is the fact that he’s been quite charitable for opposing teams, with an astounding 55 turnovers.

Byfuglien recently admitted he was playing “too fast for his own good,” something the aforementioned stats give a lot of credence to. Regardless of what the diagnosis is, coach Claude Noel admitted the team needs more from their beleaguered blue-liner.

“Dustin knows where he’s at with his game,” Noel said. “We need him to be better. He’s trying. He’s not happy.”

Noel isn’t the only one noticing something wrong with Byfuglien’s game. The Jets d-man was invited to the US Men’s Hockey camp over the past summer to try out for the 2014 Sochi Games, however he didn’t make the cut. Much like fellow Olympic roster scratch Bobby Ryan, Byfuglien was the result of a pretty rough review, specifically from one of the scouts, Don Waddell.

“If he’s going to have to play minutes defensively, boy, right now he’s a high-risk guy.”

Byfuglien’s chance to play for his country has passed this time around, but he still needs to improve his defense. Otherwise, the Winnipeg faithful will be suffering yet another summer without a playoff game to watch.

Casey Drottar is an NHL writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @CDrottar19 or “Like” him on Facebook