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Hextall on Hockey: the Winnipeg Jets finally beating the injury bug

Winnipeg Jets' Josh Morrissey skates during practice prior to their first round of NHL playoff action against the St. Louis Blues in Winnipeg, Monday, April 8, 2019.
Winnipeg Jets' Josh Morrissey skates during practice prior to their first round of NHL playoff action against the St. Louis Blues in Winnipeg, Monday, April 8, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

The Winnipeg Jets are in the top five in the NHL when it comes to man-games lost to injury — over 300 without counting the lost season of Dustin Byfuglien.

But now, finally, with 15 games left in the regular season and the Jets jockeying for a playoff spot, the team is getting healthy.

Monday’s practice saw defencemen Carl Dahlstrom and Josh Morrissey skating in sweaters that state they’ll be available Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres.

Forwards Adam Lowry, Matthieu Perreault and Mark Letestu are still in non-contact colours.

Lowry and Perreault are almost good to go, but don’t count on Letestu testing game action any time soon.

READ MORE: Hextall on Hockey: Disciplining headshots in the NHL

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The question now is: how do the Jets handle the congested dressing room?

As the Jets’ regular NHLers return, who’s in and who’s out of the lineup … considering the strong play of American league assets like Mason Appleton, Jansen Harkins and Logan Shaw?

It’s not as simple as, “send them down and we’ll call them when we need them”.

With the NHL trade deadline in the rear view, the Jets must monitor their moves between the NHL and AHL.

Each NHL team is allowed four recalls until their affiliated AHL club’s season has finished.

While this is a wrinkle for the Jets coaching staff, it also creates the one thing coaches love the most — internal competition for ice time.

Who’s the hungriest to avoid being a healthy scratch?

It’s that motivation that might be just what the Jets need to see their season extend into the spring.

Paul Maurice on Dustin Byfuglien
Paul Maurice on Dustin Byfuglien