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Noel proclaims Byfuglien good to go against Rangers

by Dave Lozo

NEW YORK -- Dustin Byfuglien will be in the lineup for the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night after leaving Sunday's game with a lower-body injury.

"He's in the game," said Jets coach Claude Noel, whose team will look to finish its five-game road trip with a 4-1 record when they face the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. "He's a player. He's ready to go. He feels good. He's a big contributor to our team and he's played with a little bit more control of late, and that's something we're trying to sort through. But that's OK."

Byfuglien suffered a lower-body injury in the third period of the Jets' 4-2 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. But the 6-foot-5, 265-pound defenseman/forward took part in the team's Tuesday morning skate at MSG and looked completely healthy.

The versatility of Byfuglien would've been sorely missed against the Rangers, who are one point ahead of the Jets in the standings. Not only is he a defender who can play 25 minutes per game, but he can use his big frame in front of the net on power plays.

It's something Jets captain Andrew Ladd has seen from Byfuglien going back to their days as teammates with the Chicago Blackhawks.

"He's so hard to move from the front of the net," Ladd said. "He's very effective. It's tough for their D-men. He's winning battles down low. He's one of those guys who you can't lift his stick. He's a guy that can do it both ways. We like having him on the point because he has a big shot. But when things aren't working, we have to shuffle things up to find something that works."

Byfuglien wasn't on the ice for Grant Clitsome's power-play goal against the Devils, the team's first with the man advantage since Feb. 4. The Jets had gone 0-for-21 in their previous eight games. They'll be facing a Rangers team that ranks 13th in penalty killing and has allowed two power-play goals in its past six times shorthanded.

Here's what the Jets' lines likely will be against the Rangers:

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Nikolai Antropov

James WrightOlli Jokinen - Anthony Peluso

Eric Tangradi - Jim SlaterChris Thorburn

Ron Hainsey - Zach Bogosian

Dustin Byfuglien - Grant Clitsome

Paul Postma - Mark Stuart

Ondrej Pavelec

Edward Pasquale

Scratches: Antti Miettinen (lower body), Kyle Wellwood, Julian Melchiori

Note: Miettinen played his first game of the season against the Devils after dealing with an upper-body injury, but played 17 seconds after suffering a lower-body injury. He did not practice Tuesday. Noel took some of the blame for Wellwood's poor season (two assists in 15 games), saying he's been juggling him through a lot of lines and not giving him much power-play time. He's a healthy scratch for the second straight game.


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