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Winnipeg Jets

Wear, tear could be taking toll on Big Buff

NEW YORK -- Draw your own conclusions from this nugget of information, Winnipeg Jets fans:

Defenceman Dustin Byfuglien, who exited Sunday's 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils in the third period after crashing into the boards awkwardly, was one of seven skaters who participated in Monday's optional practice at Madison Square Garden. According to team officials -- Byfuglien was not available to media afterward -- the big man will "see how he feels (Tuesday) but he looks like a player for tomorrow."

Dustin Byfuglien's minutes are also down since his return.


Dustin Byfuglien's minutes are also down since his return.

The question now is: What kind of player will he look like when the Jets wrap up their longest road trip of the season against the New York Rangers?

Even before he left Sunday's game Byfuglien, who missed five games earlier this year with a lower-body injury -- he jokingly referred to it as ear-wax buildup -- looked like a man playing in pain.

And there is some statistical proof to back all this up:

-- In his first six games of the season Byfuglien scored three goals and added four assists. But in the seven games since returning, he has just two assists -- both coming in last Saturday's loss to Philadelphia.

-- His minutes are also down, from around 27-28 earlier in the year to just over 23 minutes since his return.

Meanwhile, forward Antti Miettinen will not be in the lineup against the Rangers. He lasted just 17 seconds in his first game seconds before he took a puck in the private parts. He is listed as day-to-day.
Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 26, 2013 D1

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