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Byfuglien and Morrissey inching toward a return

Both defencemen skated prior to Saturday's morning skate

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

WINNIPEG - It has been a long time since the Winnipeg Jets had both Dustin Byfuglien and Josh Morrissey in the line-up at the same time. In fact, the two haven't played in a game together since Feb. 14.

Slowly but surely though, it looks like the two are getting closer to a return.

Byfuglien (lower body) and Morrissey (upper body) skated prior to the Jets morning skate on Saturday. It wasn't the first time Byfuglien has been on the ice either - Maurice says the defenceman has been skating on his own since Wednesday.

"The way this works now is he skates, if he feels good the next day, he'll start thinking about morning skates going forward," said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. "Then start building toward contact."

Byfuglien has played just five games since leaving the ice with a lower-body injury on Dec. 29 against the Minnesota Wild.

He missed 15 games with that injury, came back for those five games, before suffering another lower body injury against Colorado on Valentine's Day - causing him to miss the last 16 games.

As for Morrissey, the 23-year-old hasn't played since the 4-1 loss to Arizona on Feb. 24.

He's already set a career-high with 31 points this season and despite the fact the upper-body ailment allows him to skate, Maurice said the team won't rush the defenceman back in the line-up.

"I was talking to him this morning, he said 'I feel great for this time of the year.' We'd much rather have him play right now, he plays big and heavy minutes. His legs are strong and he's feeling pretty good," Maurice said of Morrissey.

"Josh is still a ways from that contact part of it. But he's back full on skating now. We'll get him in a (non-contact jersey) here in the near future."

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