SPORTS

Byfuglien returns to practice for Jets, but Postma out with lower-body injury

03/16/2015 05:02 EDT | Updated 05/16/2015 05:59 EDT
WINNIPEG - Dustin Byfuglien was glad to see his Jets teammates up close and personal instead of on a TV screen.

The all-star defenceman missed the NHL club's recent four-game road trip, but he practised Monday and might play when Winnipeg begins a three-game homestand against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

"It's nice to come back and see the boys," Byfuglien said. "Kind of miss them.

"Got a little lonely, little boring around here without them."

He said he's approaching a return day-by-day, but felt practice went "all right."

Byfuglien last played March 4, when he exited the team's 3-1 loss to Ottawa with an upper-body injury. Initial reports were he could be out two to four weeks.

"He's a little ahead of where we had thought he might fall," coach Paul Maurice said, adding it's a "possibility" Byfuglien will play against the Sharks.

It was a day of good and bad injury news for the Jets (34-23-12), who held the final Western Conference wild-card spot by one point over Los Angeles entering Monday's games. The Kings hosted Arizona on Monday night.

Defenceman Tyler Myers also practised after being injured in Winnipeg's 4-2 loss to Florida last Thursday. He missed Saturday's 2-1 win over Tampa Bay, but claimed he was ready to go against San Jose.

"It turned out to be what we had hoped and shouldn't be an issue," said Myers, who was acquired in a trade with Buffalo last month.

That wasn't the case for blue-liner Paul Postma, whom Maurice said suffered a "significant" lower-body injury against Tampa and is out weeks, not days.

It was a blow to Postma, who had been a healthy scratch for 27 straight games and then played a solid 23 minutes in the win over the Lightning.

Maurice said the injury happened in the second period and Postma played through it in his 100th NHL career game.

"It's one of those things that you see the next day comes back," Maurice said. "You think you might be all right after, but we appreciate the bite that it took for him to get through that game because it wasn't easy for him."

A trio of injured Jets skated on separate ice Monday, but Maurice said centre Bryan Little, centre Mathieu Perreault and defenceman Ben Chiarot aren't coming back early. Perreault and Chiarot aren't set to return until April.

Little did go on the road with the chance he might play late in the trip, but Maurice said he's going through stages to return from an upper-body injury.

"He's at the stage right now he can skate, he can move," Maurice said. "Before we get to the next stage, we need to see some improvement in some strength areas. And when that happens, he'll get back in and it's how long he can tolerate it."

Captain Andrew Ladd and defenceman Toby Enstrom didn't practise, but Maurice said he expects them to play Tuesday.

Getting Byfuglien back on the ice should be uplifting for the team. He's collected 15 goals and 42 points in 65 games playing defence and forward.

While he watched the team's games on TV, he wasn't glued to the action.

"Turned it on, but kept it in the background," he said. "It's hard to watch."

The Jets went 2-2 on the road trip and are 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. They play eight of their final 13 at home and have a 17-11-5 record at MTS Centre compared to 17-12-7 on the road.

The Jets have one regulation loss in their last eight games (4-1-3) at home.

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