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Jets' Byfuglien game-time decision against Canucks

Jacob Trouba could see time on Winnipeg's top pair

by Kevin Woodley / Correspondent

JETS (28-35-5) at CANUCKS (27-28-12)

TV: 10 p.m. ET; TSN3, SNP, NHL.TV

VANCOUVER -- The Winnipeg Jets may be without top defenseman Dustin Byfuglien against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.

Byfuglien, who leads the Jets in ice time with an average of 24:50 per game and is third in scoring with 44 points, is a game-time decision against the Canucks.

Jets coach Paul Maurice did not say what was ailing Byfuglien, but insisted it is not related to the upper-body injury that almost kept him out of a 3-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. Byfuglien played against Colorado, but Winnipeg called up defenseman Julian Melchiori from the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League for the game in Vancouver.

"We'll make the decision after warm up," Maurice said.

Melchiori is a 6-foot-4, 24-year-old defenseman whose only other NHL game was with the Jets two seasons ago, but Maurice seemed more intrigued by what Byfuglien's absence would mean for Jacob Trouba. Already in his third season with the Jets, Trouba could get a chance to move up to the top pairing with Toby Enstrom.

"It's something we have kind of wanted to look at," Maurice said "The players that have come up from the Moose that are getting their first time in the NHL, that's fun for me in a lot of ways … but the bigger area of focus is that next wave of youth, guys that have been on our team for a year of two. Their role has completely changed."

For Trouba that will mean playing against the Canucks' top forwards.

"When you play against the other team's best, your strengths and weaknesses are really exposed, so this is a really good time to take a look," Maurice said.

The Canucks will have top-pair defenseman Christopher Tanev back after he missed three games with an upper-body injury. Tanev returns with the Canucks trying to win a third straight game for the first time this season, but Vancouver will be without forward Alexandre Burrows, who had two assists in a 4-2 win against the Nashville Predators on Saturday before blocking a slap shot by Predators defenseman Shea Weber late in the game. The Canucks called up Alexandre Grenier from the Utica Comets of the AHL on Monday to take Burrows' spot.

Grenier, who played in Providence on Sunday, hadn't arrived in Vancouver for the morning skate Monday. If he plays against the Jets, it will be his fourth game in as many nights. 

"He'll be excited about playing so we'll get adrenaline out of him for one game for sure," coach Willie Desjardins said of Grenier, who has two goals and four assists in his past four AHL games and leads Utica in scoring with 37 points. "But that's tough to come across the country after playing three in three. It will be a challenge."

Here are the projected lineups: 

Drew Stafford - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Burmistrov - Marko Dano

Chris Thorburn - Adam Lowry - Scott Kosmachuk

Matt Halischuk - Andrew Copp - J.C. Lipon
Toby Enstrom - Jacob Trouba

Ben Chiarot - Tyler Myers

Julian Melchiori - Paul Postma
Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson
Injured: Dustin Byfuglien (undisclosed), Joel Armia (lower body), Grant Clitsome (back), Nikolaj Ehlers (eye), Bryan Little (neck), Anthony Peluso (upper body), Mark Stuart (hand) 

Scratched: None

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jake Virtanen

Sven Baertschi - Markus Granlund - Radim Vrbata

Derek Dorsett - Bo Horvat - Alexandre Grenier

Jared McCann - Linden Vey - Emerson Etem
Ben Hutton - Christopher Tanev

Dan Hamhuis - Luca Sbisa

Matt Bartkowski - Alex Biega  
Jacob Markstrom

Ryan Miller
Injured: Alexandre Burrows (foot), Jannik Hansen (ribs), Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alexander Edler (fractured tibia)

Scratched: Nikita Tryamkin, Yannick Weber

Status report: The Canucks sent 21-year-old forward Brendan Gaunce down to Utica after he didn't have a point and was a minus-4 in four games. … Maurice said he plans to start alternating between his goaltenders the rest of the season, something the Canucks have already started with Markstrom and Miller. 

Who's hot: Scheifele has seven goals and four assists during a career-high seven-game point streak, and has 10 goals and 18 points in his past 12 games.

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