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This article was published 10/10/2014 (2657 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Dustin Byfuglien is feeling great, thank you very much for asking, so the over-Buff-einated members of Jets Nation will be eagerly awaiting tonight's Game 2 of the season.
The San Jose Sharks are Winnipeg's opponents at SAP Center (9 p.m., Sportsnet 360, TSN 1290) and Byfuglien moves into a prominent forward role for the game.
With Thursday's early game injury to left-winger Evander Kane and Kane's apparent unavailability for the rest of the weekend with an undetermined knee injury, the big man takes a spot with centre Mark Scheifele and right-winger Blake Wheeler.
Byfuglien played just one game in the pre-season, the first one. He had a goal but was then off the ice for more than a week before resuming his skating late last week.
Is he back at his top level after missing time?
"I'm always at my top level," Byfuglien said jokingly near the end his post-practice interview on Friday.
It would be hard to argue after Thursday's season-opening 6-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes.
Byfuglien, coming off his best offensive season at 20 goals and 56 points, played frequently with Scheifele and Wheeler once Kane went out. He clicked for his first goal of the season, chipping in Wheeler's centring pass during a two-on-one in the second period and was engaged and noticeable in a good way most of the night.
"Any time you're on the ice with those two it's a pretty simple game," Byfuglien said Friday. "Just go to the net and those two will do the rest. I think all around our team just played a good game.
"It was nice to get the two points. It's a good way to start the season like that but it's over with now and we've got to move on and be ready for the next two."
Full of good humour on Friday, Byfuglien suggested the Jets might have used up too much good fortune Thursday by notching a six-pack of goals.
"It's pretty big," he began. "Sometimes I don't know if you want to have that big of a lead -- you know, our heads around here get pretty big pretty fast. It's kind of scary, what's going to happen tomorrow."
More to the point about tonight's game is the Jets now have some positive feedback for the style their coach has been harping on since training camp began.
"This guy is really big on his speed," Byfuglien said. "He likes to keep that pace up all game. It's something we've definitely worked on during training camp, hard pace and a lot of skating and stuff. I think everyone had a good summer and everyone's just ready to play hockey."
Playing the Sharks will require a solid focus, Byfuglien said.
"We've just got to keep it simple, get pucks in, pucks out at the blue-line," he said. "Every game is different and San Jose's always been a tough team to play against. It's just a matter of keeping it simple."