When the Winnipeg Jets face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, they could very well see their biggest missing piece return to the lineup.
Dustin Byfuglien, out since December 23 with a knee injury, could make his return to action tonight when the Jets play a big divisional game against the Lightning.
The big defenceman has been skating well the past few days and appears ready for game action. Whether he plays tonight or in Friday’s game against Florida is the question, but one thing is certain, Byfuglien’s impending return will be a major boost to the club. “It’s feeling good. I really don’t notice it anymore. I’m pretty comfortable with it now,” Byfuglien said after Wednesday’s practice. “I feel ready to go.”
Having struggled almost painfully to score goals in recent games without the likes of Byfuglien, Evander Kane and Alex Burmistrov, there couldn’t be a better time than now for one of the game’s premier offensive-defencemen to return.
With important upcoming games against divisonal opponents and other playoff contending teams, the next couple of weeks could go a long way in deciding whether or not the Jets can stay in the playoff picture and even challenge for the Southeast crown.
Coming off a huge win in Philadelphia the other night, you would assume that the Jets couldn’t have asked for a better start to the post all-star portion of their schedule. If you watched that game however, it was easy to see that the Jets were extremely lucky to pick up the win and probably wouldn’t have if not for the spectacular goaltending of Ondrej Pavelec.
Generating offense and scoring goals continues to be the team’s biggest problem, but with Byfuglien back in the mix, the Jets should find it a lot easier to create offense; and he should be a particular help to their struggling power-play which has sorely missed his poise with the puck and huge shot.
In addition to Byfuglien, Winnipeg is also expected to have the aforementioned Burmistrov back after the young center missed the last three games due to a mild concussion.
Injuries have played havoc for the past month of action, but the Winnipeg Jets may now be starting to get healthy at the right time.
Resident of Windsor, Ontario. Extensive knowledge of both the NHL and junior hockey in Canada, particularly the OHL. Writer for THW covering the Winnipeg Jets and the OHL as well as covering Phoenix Coyotes prospects for Hockey’s Future.