Injured Jets itching to return

Byfuglien, Enstrom practise, but not quite ready for game action

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Two familiar bodies returned to the ice Saturday afternoon after lengthy absences, with Winnipeg Jets defencemen Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom taking part in drills at the Bell MTS Iceplex.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/12/2017 (1802 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Two familiar bodies returned to the ice Saturday afternoon after lengthy absences, with Winnipeg Jets defencemen Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom taking part in drills at the Bell MTS Iceplex.

Though each donned yellow jerseys — indicating neither is ready for contact — it’s a sign both are at least close to returning to action. That’s good news for the Jets, who have been hit with a number of injuries in the past week. No. 1 centreman Mark Scheifele suffered a suspected shoulder injury in a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 27 and will miss the next six to eight weeks; winger Brandon Tanev left in the first period of Friday’s 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders and on Saturday was placed on injured reserve, listed as week-to-week.

“Well, it’s inevitable — it happens to every team,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said when asked about his team’s recent hit with the injury bug.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien (33) and Jack Roslovic (52) at practice today at the Iceplex, Saturday, December 30, 2017.

“We’ve been pretty good at handling a couple of longer-term ones — definitely (for) Toby, it’s been awhile. They’re both wearing the non-contact sweaters today, which means they’re inching closer — that’s a positive.”

Maurice said Byfuglien, who has missed the past nine games since suffering a lower-body injury against Tampa Bay on Dec. 9, should be back “in the next five days,” meaning he’ll miss the Jets’ two-game road trip through Edmonton (Dec. 31) and Colorado (Jan. 2). Judging from what was on display at practice on Saturday, where Byfuglien was initiating contact seemingly at every opportunity during five-on-five drills, he’s clearly feeling the itch to get back in the lineup. Neither player was available to media, as both spent extra time on the ice after the team workout.

“He’s getting fairly ornery; he thinks he’s fairly close,” Maurice said.

“Given the choice, he’d rather just play the games. So he’s showing the coaches that he physically feels good to give hits, anyways.”

As for Enstrom, Maurice projected another two weeks before he’d be ready for a game. Enstrom has missed the past 20 games with a lower-body injury.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate (with injuries), so we won’t complain,” Maurice said.

When Scheifele went down, many believed it would open the door for Jack Roslovic to return to the Jets. Roslovic has been developing his game in the American Hockey League and is second in league scoring with 35 points (15 goals, 20 assists) in 31 games with the Manitoba Moose.

The Jets didn’t make a move right away, but with the injury to Tanev, Roslovic did get recalled. He was with the Jets at practice, but he won’t play against the Oilers.

Instead, Joel Armia has been bumped to the third line with Andrew Copp and Adam Lowry, while Marko Dano will break his 30-game streak of being a healthy scratch to play on the fourth line.

“Every day in the NHL is a good day, so I’m just excited,” Roslovic said.

“It’s just come here and play my game, work hard in practice and that time will come.”

Even though Roslovic won’t play in Edmonton, Maurice insisted it wasn’t just a reward for his strong play with the Moose and a chance to watch from the press box.

“It’s all business, to be honest with you,” the Jets coach said.

“He hasn’t been in the American League long enough for us to throw him a bone — he’s played well. The call (to the Moose) was send the best right-winger you’ve got, in terms of the way guys are playing.”

Maurice noted Connor Hellebuyck, who is coming off perhaps his most impressive outing with the Jets following a 42-save performance against the Islanders, will start in net against the Oilers.

“We played 13 games in just under five weeks, which is a really, really light schedule,” he said.

“We talked to Connor just to make sure that his body is feeling good, mentally he’s feeling good and when he’s in that, then we want him to play, we want him to stay in that rhythm.”

jeff.hamilton@freepress.mb.catwitter: @jeffkhamilton

Jeff Hamilton

Jeff Hamilton
Multimedia producer

After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.

History

Updated on Saturday, December 30, 2017 5:43 PM CST: Updates photo

Updated on Saturday, December 30, 2017 8:58 PM CST: Updates photo, story edited

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