PROBLACK HOCKEY BLOG
PROBLACK HOCKEY BLOG
Byfuglien, who has 12 goals and 48 points in 74 games this season, missed the past two games with a lower-body injury but will play on a pairing with Julian Melchiori as the Jets get set for a second and final meeting with the Devils.
“He's back in and ready to go,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice, noting that Brian Strait will come out for Byfuglien.
Jets rookie sniper Patrik Laine will also return after missing Sunday's 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks because he was feeling under the weather.
Laine's return means Dano, who has one goal in 10 games since returning from an ankle injury, will be a healthy scratch.
“He needs to outperform the guys that are ahead of him,” said Maurice. “(Brandon) Tanev has come in and brought a real good element of pace. He's an option for us on the PK and we are certainly looking for players who can kill penalties.”
After backup Michael Hutchinson started three of the past four games, Connor Hellebuyck gets the call in net for the Jets, while the Devils counter with former Manitoba Moose netminder Cory Schneider.
The Jets (34-35-7) were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Monday when the St. Louis Blues defeated the Arizona Coyotes.
It's the fifth time in six seasons since the franchise relocated from Atlanta that the Jets find themselves on the outside looking in.
“It sucks, that's one way to say it,” said Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers. “We've been working, from the end of last year until now, to make the playoffs. Being in this position right now and having not made the playoffs is not a great feeling. But I think there's some positive things we can take from this year. We've gotten better as a team. We've had our struggles, every team has those.
“But when we've played our game, we've really shown we can be one of the top-end teams in this league. We just have to be able to find a way to be consistent in that. We've got a young team in here and sometimes, consistency can be a problem. Obviously, we don't wait to wait five years until we're all grown up. We're all old enough and good enough to make that step now.”
Being able to only put together two separate three-game winning streaks and nothing longer was certainly a factor in this group falling short.
“We score a lot of goals, that's not an issue. We're going to have to find a way to defend better,” said Jets forward Mathieu Perreault. “We have to learn to take more games to overtime. Those (extra) points, when you look at the games we let slip away from us, if you add them up at the end of the year, sometimes it helps your team be right there with a chance of making the playoffs.”
On the injury front, Maurice said a decision would be need in the coming days about whether defenceman Paul Postma (lower body) will require season-ending surgery.