Dustin Byfuglien “earned” the right to wear the ‘A’ of the alternate captain Saturday in Washington, according to coach Craig Ramsay.
Even if it only lasted for two periods.
Byfuglien wore the ‘A’ in place of Nik Antropov, who was a healthy scratch against the Capitals.
“I thought Buff has shown a lot of courage in the games,” Ramsay said. “I thought he’s really tried to make a difference in each and every game that he’s played. I talked about rotating [the alternates] and we haven’t made a change yet … but I thought that he earned it. He earned a chance to have an ‘A’ on his sweater and to be one of our leaders. Most guys are going to have a shot at it and it’s going to be fun. When you put it on for the night you should enjoy that and recognize that the coaching staff is recognizing you for a big effort.”
Byfuglien did not last the entire game as he was given a game misconduct at the 17:32 mark of the second period after getting a five-minute charging penalty on Capitals’ goaltender Michal Neuvirth. The defenseman had just come out of the penalty box and took the puck on a breakaway when he hit Neuvirth near the side of the goal.
“I think it was a little too much,” Byfuglien said Monday. “A five-minute and game [misconduct], I’m not that type of guy. I didn’t put my head down and just bury him. It was just kind of a shot. I’m going so fast I didn’t have time to do anything. I tried my best to miss him. It is what it is. But it was a little much. It’s over with now and we just got to move on.”
Byfuglien will not receive any supplementary discipline from the NHL for the game misconduct.
Ramsay said it was difficult to play the final period down a defenseman. The team rotated the five blueliners in the 4-3 overtime loss. He also again questioned the two-minute interference penalty on Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin in the third period after he hit Thrashers goaltender Chris Mason.
“It was hard when you lose a guy like Dustin,” Ramsay said. “… He was playing so well, jumping up ice. That was a big plus for ice and to suddenly come out of the penalty box [on a rush] and it might be a 3-1 lead and it turns into a three-minute shorthanded situation and him out of the lineup that hurts. We don’t like that. It comes back to it’s hard that they can run over our goalie and it’s only two [minutes]. These things happen. It’s a tough situation to have happen to your hockey club when they are so involved in the game.”
As for getting a chance to wear the ‘A,’ Byfuglin said: “Oh yeah, for a couple of periods, it was all right.”