The 2011 NHL All-Star Game may be just what the doctor ordered for Atlanta Thrashers defenseman Dustin Byfuglien.
In the midst of a seven game pointless streak, which coincidentally saw the team’s fortunes take a similar turn, Byfuglien may just have received the recharge that he and the team needs mingling with the world’s best hockey players.
Reunited with old teammates from the Chicago Blackhawks like Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith and socializing with stars from other teams, the first time All-Star seemed to revel in all the festivities.
Selected to play on Team Lidstrom and participate in the hardest shot competition, Byfuglien managed to come in third behind Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara.
Chara won this year’s Hardest Shot Challenge with a 105.9 mph blisterer.
Byfuglien came in with a respectable102.4 mph blast.
The game was what NHL All-Star matches are all about: A showcase of world class offensive skills which featured a four goal comeback by Team Lidstrom and a 11-10 final.
Byfuglien did not appear out of place, playing a game high 22 minutes on the blueline and contributing a goal on a beautiful pass from former teammate Patrick Kane.
When interviewed prior to the game, Byfuglien seemed to take it all in stride. He seemed his typical unflappable self-smiling and seemingly enjoying the whole event.
The residual benefit for Thrasher fans may be the reenergizing effect received by playing with the best in the world.
Mario Lemieux often spoke of his experience playing with Team Canada and then returning to his Pittsburgh team. He said that playing with the likes of Wayne Gretzky and the other Team Canada stars took him to a completely different level.
“The motivation and preparation they displayed was amazing and contagious. “ Mario said.
While Byfuglien is no Mario Lemieux, he still is a vital cog in the Thrashers playoff hunt and anything that motivates him to perform similarl to how he did the first forty games of the season would be welcomed in Thrasherville.