WINNIPEG - When the puck drops on game one between the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues on Wednesday, it will be first time the Jets have both Dustin Byfuglien and Josh Morrissey in the line-up at the same time since Feb. 14.
Sure, that date could have been moved up a bit, as Morrissey - who missed the last 20 games with an upper-body injury - tried to convince head coach Paul Maurice to put him in one of the final games of the regular season.
But at this time of season, health is the most important thing. Now, the Jets are excited to have two unique - as Maurice once put it - defencemen back in the line-up.
"Your expectation is everyone plays the way they're playing," said Maurice. "Those two guys, I don't know how you want to rank them on our team - Josh plays against the other team's best and Buff is a force. Having them back in the line-up makes you as good as you can be."
Video: PRACTICE | Dustin Byfuglien
Morrissey slid right back into his familiar spot on the left side with Jacob Trouba during practice on Wednesday, while Byfuglien remained with Ben Chiarot - who he has played the last four games with.
That left Nathan Beaulieu on the outside looking in for the time being, a decision that Maurice said was hard to make.
"I've liked his work for sure. It's not easy, because his play didn't warrant it. Josh Morrissey's play warrants him being in the line-up and you have to make those kind of decisions," said Maurice. "I've liked the pairings and the consistency of the other two groupings. He's been really good, a good find for us for sure."
Byfuglien missed a total of 40 games in 2018-19 and has played in just nine games since Dec. 29.
Still, he finished the season with 31 points, tied with Morrissey and Tyler Myers for second among defenceman on the roster. Jacob Trouba led the way with 50 points - a new career-high.
"The team has done a great job all year with whoever has been in and out of the line-up," said Byfuglien, who is eagerly anticipating tomorrow's Stanley Cup Playoffs opener. "The first period, everyone is going to be jacked and ready to go, both teams. After that, the game will get settled down and be a fast-paced game. We just have to take it one shift at a time."
Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice
The Jets haven't played St. Louis since Dec. 7, when the Blues shut out Winnipeg 1-0 - the only time St. Louis came out victorious over the Jets in four meetings.
The Blues were 12-1-1 in the month of February (and 20-6-3 over February and March) to help them pull into the Central Divison's third spot, but Byfuglien says the Jets can't be tentative.
"We're not going to sit back," he said. "We're going to go forward and see what they've got."