WINNIPEG - All signs point to defenceman Zach Bogosian being back in the Winnipeg Jets lineup on Saturday against the Florida Panthers.
Bogosian, who missed the past five games with an undisclosed lower-body injury, skated again on Friday and declared himself fit to play following the optional skate.
“I’m feeling good,” said Bogosian, who has three goals and 19 points in 42 games this season. “What I would like is to play the normal minutes. I’m not sure what the coaches will have in store for me. Coming back off an injury, I haven’t skated very much. But I’ve been feeling good out there in practice. My wind feels good and my legs feel good. It’ll be interesting to see how much I play when I get back.”
Jets head coach Claude Noel wasn’t ready to confirm Bogosian would be ready to play, saying he would be reevaluated on Saturday, making him a “game-time” decision.
Bogosian’s presence would certainly be welcomed
“He’s a big part of our team,” said fellow defenceman Mark Stuart. “He logs a lot of minutes for us and before he got injured, he was giving us a lot of offensive punch. It’s going to be really good to have Zach back in the lineup. He’ll give us a little boost.”
The Jets made a roster move Friday that suggested Bogosian was nearing a return, returning defenceman Paul Postma to the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League.
Postma didn’t appear in a game during this call-up, but has played three NHL games this season.
The Jets also placed blue-liner Derek Meech on waivers and they plan to send him to the IceCaps if he clears.
Meech, a Winnipegger, has been limited to two games this season due to a knee injury.
BUFF GETTING CLOSER?: The Jets still aren’t sure when defenceman Dustin Byfuglien is going to return to their lineup but there was a positive development on Friday as Byfuglien hit the ice at MTS IcePlex with assistant athletic therapist Lee Stubbs.
“He’s getting fitted for a brace and he’s trying to get accustomed to some things, so he’s a little ways away,” said Noel. “He’s coming along, but I don’t know if he’s ready to play.”
Byfuglien will miss his 13th consecutive game on Saturday, but there’s a chance he could accompany the team on Sunday for a road trip to Carolina and New York.
Noel doesn’t know if Byfuglien will be able to participate in next weekend’s all-star festivities in Ottawa.
“He would need to play a game or two, in my estimation to be able to play at the all-star game, so that might be up in the air,” he said.
ANTROPOV FINED: Nik Antropov was a little lighter in the wallet on Friday after the NHL announced the Jets forward was fined $2,500 for boarding Sabres defenceman T.J. Brennan on Thursday.
Antropov received a roughing minor on the play, which occurred at 9:28 of the third period and was fined the maximum under the collective bargaining agreement.
KANE’S DROUGHT: Left-winger Evander Kane saw his goal-scoring drought reach a season-high 10 games, but Noel was encouraged by how the left-winger played in Thursday’s 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
As linemate Blake Wheeler returned to the lineup after missing two games, Kane had a game-high six shots on goal, one hit and one blocked shot in just over 19 minutes of ice time.
Kane continues to lead the Jets with 18 goals and is second on the team in points (31), but hasn’t scored since Dec. 29 when he had the game-winner against the Los Angeles Kings.
“He’s been a little bit streaky in his play,” said Noel. “There’s a lot of things you could point to in his goal-less streak. There’s no question he’s getting increased attention because people are aware of what he can do. And the way I look at it, that’s a compliment to a player. There’s not a lot of space and they’re more physical on you. It’s a hard adjustment for players. It takes time.”