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Dano, Copp set to return against Blues

Trouba also returns from two-game suspension

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - The man games the Winnipeg Jets have lost to injury this season sits at 258 with 18 games remaining in the regular season.

With any luck, that number won't increase very quickly starting tomorrow night.

Head coach Paul Maurice said he expects both Andrew Copp (upper body) and Marko Dano (lower body) to be in the line-up against St. Louis Friday night, and Ondrej Pavelec (lower body) will also be one of the two goaltenders suited up and ready for duty.

Combined, the three players have missed 39 games, with the majority coming from Dano, who was injured back on Dec. 29 against Columbus.

"I feel much better now. I'm almost back to normal," said Dano, adding the road to recovery was a frustrating one. "Every time I felt like I was good, I went on the ice or did some bad move, it came back. It was tough, but I'm comfortable and I feel good."

Video: PRACTICE | Marko Dano

Copp has missed the last five games, including the four-game trip before the five-day break. That left the 22-year-old itching to get back on the ice.

"It feels like it has been forever since I've been in a game, and it's only been two and a half weeks," he said. "(You) just want to be a part of it. We had a really good road trip and you want to be a part of that, feeling that game atmosphere and that camaraderie, I'm itching to get back in the line-up for sure."

Maurice had Copp skating with Dano on a line with Chris Thorburn at practice today, and said having the benefit of getting both players in a few practices will help them be ready for game speed.

The head coach has also appreciates Copp's versatility in the line-up. While he will start at centre on Friday, Copp scored four of his eight goals this season in a five-game stretch playing on the wing with Mark Scheifele in the middle.

Video: PRACTICE | Andrew Copp

"It has been good for me to get more ice time," said Copp. "It's helped me get more minutes and improve my role on the team and get in the rhythm of the game more, and on the ice a lot more. It's been huge for me and huge for my confidence, and it's let my game grow."

TROUBA TIME

Jacob Trouba will also return to the line-up Friday night when the Jets host the Blues. The 23-year-old has missed the last two games due to a suspension, and like Copp - his fellow University of Michigan alum - said the break made it feel even longer.

"I'm ready to go," Trouba said. "This is a pretty big game we have coming up here. It's one we need."

St. Louis holds the final playoff spot in the West, five points clear of the Jets. Winnipeg has won all three previous meetings with the Blues this season, with two more to go before the end of the regular season.

Video: PRACTICE | Jacob Trouba

The most recent win came back on Jan. 31, a 5-3 victory that led to the Blues making a coaching change. St. Louis won seven of their next eight following that loss, but have lost four straight games since.

"They've made some changes to their style, not drastic, but there are some changes that we'll have to address, mostly in their own end and how we generate offense," said Maurice. "The divisional games, and even pieces of the Minnesota contests, we have played very well in the Central, we know what game has to be played."

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice

Prior to the suspension, Trouba was paired with Josh Morrissey. Maurice says the plan is to put the two back together right away.

"We were at a complete comfort level of running them as the top two in terms of match up defensively, and that's where they'll go right back to tomorrow," said Maurice. "There's more than one line with St. Louis that they have offensive players at, but you have a first-year player and a young defenceman as your pair but you look at them as somebody that you're trying to get out against the other team's best. That's a good young pair of defensemen that we hope can be complementary players for each other for a long time."

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