On Jan. 5, Brough wrote a post titled “Get a load of the expected Winnipeg defense tonight against San Jose,” a piece that highlighted the Jets’ depleted defense and what was left — specifically, a top-six of Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Chiarot, Jay Harrison, Paul Postma, Adam Pardy and Julien Broulliette.
What a difference a few weeks makes.
Byfuglien used the time to emerge as an All-Star calibre blueliner while the likes of Mark Stuart, Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom returned to health; tonight against Columbus, the Jets will welcome back another key d-man as Jacob Trouba (upper body) will play for the first time since Dec. 13.
Which gives Winnipeg the following pairings:
Ah, the luxuries afforded. Jets head coach Paul Maurice will now rest Stuart — who averages over 19 minutes per game — tonight, even though he’s healthy enough to play; the Jets’ “fourth” pairing of Pardy and Postma are on the outside looking in, even though Pardy played over 20 minutes in that aforementioned tilt against San Jose and Postma’s appeared in 41 of Winnipeg’s 47 games this season.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Jets do moving forward. Would they consider moving Byfuglien back to forward after his emergence on defense? And happens if, following the All-Star break, they’ve got nine healthy NHL defensemen?
Maurice didn’t want to touch the latter.
“I’ve stood in this situation far too many times to try and jinx the idea that everybody would be healthy in a week,” he said, per the Jets website. “That’s a guaranteed ‘you’re down four again’ comment, so we’ll deal with that situation if we’re fortunate enough to be in it.”