Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Just bumps and bruises: Buff

Decj dej

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Dustin Byfuglien sent a re-assurance to Winnipeg Jets fans on Sunday -- don't worry about my health.

The 26-year-old defenceman doesn't speak very often to reporters but he did before the Jets' home game with the Carolina Hurricanes.

"It's just little bumps and bruises; you get sore at this time of year," he said about missing a few shifts last Friday night. Still, he played a game-high 22:53 that night.

"Sometimes you just need to walk it off. That's all that it was."

He said he has managed late-season pain, bumps and bruises before.

"It's minor things that happen, that you've just got to take care of," he said. "You try not to overdo things."

Byfuglien hasn't practised a whole lot with his teammates recently, and he has skipped a few game-day morning skates, including Sunday's, as well.

"I'd like to get out there a lot more," he said Sunday. "I think we will but we've got a lot of games coming up here. It's a matter of maintaining everything."

In a lighter exchange, Byfuglien was asked if he really wanted to practise.

"Does anyone ever want to practise?" he laughed. "It's practice."

Byfuglien, at whatever percentage he's operating these days, is currently third in scoring among NHL defencemen with 11 goals and 46 points.

And he was plus-12 in the 12 games played before Sunday's contest.

"I just feel it's coming along good," he said about his own play. "The team's playing well and when the team's playing well, everyone's playing well. Everyone gets their production and everything goes smooth.

"I just happen to be in the right spot at the right time."

The big defenceman also said Sunday he sees no impediments to the Jets continuing to improve their play as they push for an Eastern Conference playoff spot.

"It doesn't get any better than this," he said. "Every game is crucial to us. That makes the hockey that much more fun. You've just got to take it one period at a time, win every shift and not get ahead of ourselves."

One thing he said he's conscious of these days in the dressing room is not letting the team's young players be consumed by their nerves, when they surface.

"Maybe you've got to crack a joke with them sometimes," Byfuglien said. Friday, when he was named the game's first star, Byfuglien authored another one of those "Buff" moments when he skated back out onto the ice for his curtain call, and promptly bowed to the fans.

"Pritchy (massage therapist Al Pritchard) was standing there and said they wanted something," Byfuglien laughed. "I figured I'd throw something out there."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 19, 2012 C3

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