Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
Through two periods, he had a goal, and assisted on the Thrashers' three others. And you'd probably think that was a pretty great night for the guy.
But the fact is he's been doing this all season.
Remember when Atlanta first announced he would be moving back to the blue line? "Oh ho ho," chortled the hockey community at large. "He was a barely serviceable forward during the regular season last year, and they moved him away from defense because he was terrible at it."
True to expectations, Byfuglien started the year back at his natural position rather questionably, getting noticeably torched on more than a few highlight-reel goals and eliciting easily 10 times that figure in told-ya-so's. Through his first 15 games, he was a plus player just twice, despite putting up 14 points in that time.
But, very quietly, he was playing hefty minutes with greater and greater frequency, and, while not being a plus, he also wasn't often a minus despite Atlanta bleeding goals (55 against in the first 15).
And now, he's got nine goals from the blue line. That's best in the league among defensemen. He's got 16 assists. That's sixth. And there's the 25 points. That's also best in the league. He's riding a five-game point streak in which he's piled up 4-5-9. That's Crosby numbers right there.
(Coming Up: Crying over Chris Pronger's(notes) referee injustice; the Kings fall off the throne; Dan Paille's dirty play; Filatov a scratch;the Sharks are banged up; the Blackhawks get healthy; Ovechkin makes his teammates better; overrating Tomas Plekanec(notes); blaming Kiprusoff; another KovaLOLchuk moment; Kaberle-to-Rangers trade proposal; and Jordin Tootoo(notes) talks about his Sean Avery(notes) fight.)
Byfuglien has scored a league-leading five game-winners as well, and also hasn't had a minus night since Nov. 6.
Atlanta, partly as a consequence, has 27 points from 24 games (though it had 31 through 24 last year and we all know how that turned out).
Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom have turned the Atlanta power play into an absolute terror. Of his points, 13 have come on the power play (same goes for Enstrom), and that's made the Thrashers' man advantage third-best in the league behind Vancouver and, somehow, Minnesota.
Hell, the entire Atlanta offense, for which Byfuglien is, not surprisingly, top point and goal scorer, is the fifth best in the NHL at 3.17 goals per game.
And while that's probably wrong for at least two reasons -- the first being that it's a bit early to judge and the second being that, when compared to the work of Don Waddell, even a child's finger-painting would look like it belongs in the Louvre -- it's almost not hyperbole.
Byfuglien has now scored 25 points in 24 games this year, with his career high being just 36 in 67 for Chicago three years ago. At the rate he's been scoring lately, he could just top that mark by mid-December.
So yeah, the hockey world owes Big Buff a big apology.