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Byfuglien experiment at forward to continue for Jets

by Arpon Basu /

MONTREAL -- With five goals scored over the course a of a four-game losing streak, Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel asked Dustin Byfuglien to take a trip back in time and move to forward in the third period of a 5-2 loss at the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

Byfuglien, who played forward for most of his time with the Chicago Blackhawks from 2005-10, will at least start the game at right wing Thursday when the Jets look to snap their skid against the Montreal Canadiens.

"He gives us a guy on the right side that can create a little more offense," Noel said. "We've been stuck a little bit on the offensive side of things on the top two lines."

Over the course of the losing streak, Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen, Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little have combined for one goal and two assists, with Ladd, Little and Wheeler each going without a point in that span.

Enter Byfuglien, who is expected to play with Little and Ladd on Thursday.

"He's a hard guy to move in front of the net," Noel said of Byfuglien. "He's a big man -- he makes the goalie work, that’s for certain. Those are areas you'd like him to occupy. But he's equally good in the corner; when he gets the puck he protects it well, and he’s a hard guy to control in the corner. He can do some things; he's got a fairly high skill level as well."

The Jets will be facing a Canadiens team that traveled Wednesday night after losing 5-3 at the Philadelphia Flyers.

Montreal is all but assured of missing top center Tomas Plekanec, who left the game against the Flyers late in the second period with a groin injury and is day to day, according to coach Michel Therrien. Left wing Max Pacioretty also is a question mark after he took a P.K. Subban slap shot off the foot in Philadelphia, though in his case, his past history of quick recovery from injuries suggests he most likely will play.

Center Gabriel Dumont, who played eight games with the Canadiens earlier this season, was recalled from the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League on Thursday morning and likely will be dressed for the game.

The following expected lines are largely guesswork; the Jets did not do line rushes at their morning skate and the Canadiens didn’t skate at all:


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Dustin Byfuglien

Evander Kane - Olli Jokinen - Blake Wheeler

Eric Tangradi - Alexander Burmistrov - Mike Santorelli

Antti Miettinen - Aaron Gagnon - Chris Thorburn

Tobias Enstrom - Grant Clitsome

Ron Hainsey - Zach Bogosian

Mark Stuart - Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec

Al Montoya

Scratched: Kyle Wellwood, Arturs Kulda

Injured: Nik Antropov (lower body), Jim Slater (upper body), James Wright (upper body)


Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Brendan Gallagher

Michael Ryder - Lars Eller - Brian Gionta

Alex Galchenyuk - Jeff Halpern - Brandon Prust

Travis Moen - Gabriel Dumont - Mike Blunden

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban

Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin

Francis Bouillon - Davis Drewiske

Peter Budaj

Carey Price

Scratched: Tomas Kaberle, Yannick Weber

Injured: Tomas Plekanec (groin), Ryan White (ankle), Raphael Diaz (concussion), Rene Bourque (concussion)

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