Dustin Byfuglien started a new chapter of his career on the Atlanta Thrashers during a recent exhibition game against the Carolina Hurricanes. He made his debut on the blueline playing alongside fellow newcomer Johnny Oduya (acquired from New Jersey).
The Thrashers lost that contest 0-1 in a tight checking affair.
The game itself was largely inconsequential except for its use as a platform to evaluate. GM Rick Dudley, Coach Craig Ramsey, and Associate Coach John Torchetti have been working feverishly to assess the available talent currently at the team's disposal prior to the start of the regular season.
Dudley and Ramsey have juggled numerous combinations of forward and defense pairings to uncover the unusual chemistry that both men know will make a difference in the Thrashers season.
Byfuglien suited up in the second game in his familiar number 33 and performed solidly, showing flashes of what the Thrashers were looking for when they traded for him during the summer.
He seemed to take advantage of his size and growing reputation for physical play as he gained space to maneuver against the Hurricanes. While neither he nor the team was able to score Byfugliens, his reputation as a noteworthy hitter was further reinforced during an errant play.
Both Byfuglien and Forward Sergei Samsonov were skating behind the Thrasher net when suddenly Samsonov hit the ice writhing in pain. The game was stopped, Buf was given a two minute tripping penalty, and Samsonov was taken on a stretcher off the ice.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) The forward was taken to an undisclosed hospital for precautionary tests. A Hurricanes spokesperson said that Samsonov had sensation in all his extremities after reportedly suffering a sprained neck.
“I poked at the (puck) and I turned,” Byfuglien said. “I don’t think I hit him bad. It was kind of a toe pick and he went into the boards funny.”
Soon after the incident, the Thrashers scoreboard flashed a message showing Byfuglien ranked as one of the top hitters in the NHL last season.
The Thrashers will not have a problem with toughness this season.