Hawks are getting Buff

May, 22, 2010
5/22/10
12:33
AM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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There’s just something about Buff.

Just one of the guys during the regular season, Dustin Byfuglien continues to solidify his status as playoff legend.

First came a hat trick against Vancouver, then a game-winner in the third period of conference finals opener, and now in Game 3, he finished the Sharks' night with a dramatic winner in overtime. He’s helped put the Hawks on the brink of a Stanley Cup Finals berth.

[+] EnlargeDustin Byfuglien
Rob Grabowski/US PresswireFor the second consecutive year, Dustin Byfuglien is stepping up in the postseason.

“It’s great,” the low-key Byfuglien said after the win. “It’s something that I will definitely remember, I’m guessing. With good, hard work it always seems to pay off in the end. It’s something that is nice.”

Byfuglien took a pass from Dave Bolland, who was behind Evgeni Nabokov, and hammered it home for his seventh goal of the postseason.

“It was a good forecheck,” Byfuglien said. “Bolland made a good play and laid it out in the slot and all I had to do was finish.”

“I didn’t see him the whole way,” Bolland explained. “I just saw him a little bit on the left side of my eye. Buff’s a big boy so when he’s coming in there hard he won’t stop.”

No, he won’t. But how did he get so open? Buff wasn’t sure, so maybe one of his linemates can give an explanation.

“He just seems to find the open space lately and that’s why he’s scoring goals,” Jonathan Toews said. “Great shot by him. Just had to put it on net. It’s nice to see him get another big one for us. He’s on a heck of a tear. He’s playing very confident but he’s not making it out to be any more than that, so we’re expecting he’s going to keep it up.”

So is Buff. When asked if he’s ever been more confident as a player, he didn’t hesitate.

“I’m going to have to say no,” he said. “I’m really confident right now and playing with [Patrick] Kane and Toews they make it a little bit easier too.”

And remember, this is the second year in a row that he has emerged as a playoff star. His coming-out party came against Calgary and Vancouver in the first couple rounds of 2009, but he’s gone to another level this postseason.

“He’s moving well,” Joel Quenneville said. “He’s got some speed behind his game. … This year’s playoff is taking off where last year’s playoffs were.”

A free-spirit in the dressing room, Byfuglien isn’t exactly comfortable in front of the cameras. As an eighth-round pick whose rise has been gradual, it’s not a surprise, but he’s getting there.

“May as well enjoy it,” he said recently. “Kane and Toews usually get all the attention, so it’s fun.”

It is.

Jesse Rogers | email

Chicago Cubs beat reporter
Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
39 18 21 10
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 18
AssistsP. Kane 21
+/-K. Versteeg 15
GAAC. Crawford 2.00