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Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Byfuglien back

Posted: 02/10/2013 12:28 PM | Comments: 0

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Dustin Byfuglien has declared himself ready to return to the Winnipeg Jets’ lineup.

The big defenceman practiced Sunday morning with the team at an optional skate following the club’s return from Ottawa after Saturday’s 1-0 win. Afterward, between cracking wise with the media, Byfuglien said he had recovered from the ‘lower-body’ injury that has seen him miss five games.

"It felt good. It’s been awhile and it’s nice to be back out there with some guys," said Byfuglien.

Asked if he thought he would be ready to play Tuesday night when the Philadelphia Flyers pay a visit, Byfuglien said: "As of right now, I think so. Good to go.

"I just had a little maintenance to do on the lower body, just taking care of it. We didn’t want it to drag it on and make it happen for the long haul so we took care of it right away."

Byfuglien said the latest injury came right before the pre-game skate in Florida on Jan. 31st and was not related to last year’s knee troubles, adding:

"It was a fresh one. Some wax build-up in my ear."

Byfuglien has three goals and four assists in six games this year and, with or without him in the lineup, his defence partner Toby Enstrom continues to rack up points. Enstrom has two goals and 11 assists this season and continues to lead all NHL defencemen in scoring.

"He must have went and watched a couple of my tapes and taken a few things," joked Byfuglien. "No… he’s really stepped his game up. That’s what he does. He’s smooth, smart, he sees the ice well and he does a great job."

The Jets are back on the ice Monday in preparation for three home games this week: Tuesday vs. Philly; Friday vs. Pittsburgh and next Sunday against Boston.

Head coach Claude Noel said Sunday the team will monitor how Ondrej Pavelec has recovered from flu-like symptoms — he did practice today — and which goaltender starts against the Flyers will be a game-time decision. Al Montoya kicked out 33 shots for the shutout in Saturday’s win.

Ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

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