Demotion doing Antropov good

After being dropped to the 4th line, Nik Antropov has shown some improvement. (JASON HALSTEAD/QMI...

After being dropped to the 4th line, Nik Antropov has shown some improvement. (JASON HALSTEAD/QMI Agency)

Ken Wiebe, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:33 AM ET

Nik Antropov spent the morning of his 32nd birthday on the ice at MTS Centre with Mark Flood and Eric Fehr, the three Winnipeg Jets to take part in the optional skate on Saturday.

Antropov was in a track suit rather than full gear and told reporters he was feeling fine after crashing to the ice following a collision with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton during the third period of Friday’s 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins.

Since demoting Antropov to the fourth line earlier this week, Jets head coach Claude Noel has seen more spark in the 6-foot-6 centre’s game.

“I’ve got to get him playing more minutes, it’s that simple,” said Noel. “He deserves to play more. He’s a big part of our team and he’s a guy that needs to be involved in our team — and he will be.

“It’s not like I’m playing him less by design but other people are playing pretty well. I’m happy because he’s playing feistier and he wants to be a bigger part of the team, which is good.”

Antropov has eight goals and 27 points in 52 games this season, but has only one assist in his past 11 games and hasn’t scored since Jan. 21, a span of 12 games.

While Antropov was upset about his turnover that led to the Bruins first goal, he thinks his game is coming along.

“That wasn’t a good play by me, but I think I’m getting better — slowly,” said Antropov. “That’s all I can say. I need to contribute somehow, so I’m trying to play physical and be positive on the bench. Just simple stuff.

“There are no complaints, as soon as Claude sees me playing well, he’ll move me to a different line or whatever.”

ON THE RISE: On the flip side, since being moved onto a line with Evander Kane and Kyle Wellwood, second-year forward Alex Burmistrov is showing some signs of the creativity that was on display during the first quarter of the season.

Burmistrov has two goals and three points during his past three games to give him 12 goals and 22 points in 54 games this season.

In Friday’s win, Burmistrov shows patience before getting a wicked wrister past Bruins captain Zdeno Chara that caught goalie Tuukka Rask off guard 1:59 into the second period.

“These are some of the things he can do,” said Noel. “I thought he did a nice job changing speeds on the rush, he cut into the middle and used the defenceman as a screen. He has a good shot and I’m glad to see he uses it.”

Kane picked up an assist Friday to give him four points over his past two games and 36 points in 52 games this season.

QUESTIONABLE: Defenceman Zach Bogosian took another step in his recovery from an upper-body injury on Saturday, but the date for his potential return to the lineup remains unclear.

Bogosian, who missed the past two games, skated on his own Saturday morning without pucks for roughly 30 to 40 minutes and is questionable to return for Sunday’s game.

“I’m not sure if Bogosian is going to be a player, we’ll see,” said Noel. “We’re going to have to see (Sunday). He skated to keep his legs.”

Bogosian has three goals, 21 points and 51 penalty minutes in 53 games this season.


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