WINNIPEG - All signs point to the Winnipeg Jets being without defenceman Zach Bogosian for at least one more game.
After what appeared to be an encouraging step on Monday when Bogosian skated with his teammates for roughly 30 minutes, he wasn’t on the ice Tuesday at MTS IcePlex and head coach Claude Noel hinted he wasn’t likely to be in the lineup against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday as the Jets open a critical three-game homestand.
“He may not be a player, we’ll just wait and see after that,” said Noel. “He might take the morning skate.”
Noel stopped short of saying Bogosian suffered a setback.
“No, it’s just aggravating him,” said Noel.
Bogosian, who has missed 10 of the past 11 games with wrist and lower-body injuries, has three goals and 22 points in 54 games this season.
There was some positive news for the Jets on the injury front as blue-liner Dustin Byfuglien, who is dealing with a lower-body issue of his own, was a full participant in the workout and will be in the lineup on Wednesday.
Although Jets winger Evander Kane is one of many high-profile players who missed time with a concussion this season, he’s not among those who consider concussions an epidemic and he’s not in favour of rule changes that might slow down the game.
“I think there’s a lot more attention paid to it now, obviously with Sidney Crosby getting a concussion and he’s been out so long,” said Kane. “Everybody has been talking about it and every other player who gets a concussion, it gets magnified a little more. It’s something that probably happened in the past, but it’s something we weren’t aware of. It’s something I think you should pay close attention to, but at the same time, it’s tough to change a whole lot in the game. Hockey is a dangerous sport and everybody who signs up knows what they’re getting into.”
One of the keys to the Stars success this season is goalie Kari Lehtonen, who spent the first five seasons of his NHL career with the Atlanta Thrashers.
Lehtonen, the second overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, never reached his full potential with the Thrashers but has blossomed since joining the Stars in a 2010 trade for defenceman Ivan Vishnevskiy and a fourth round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
“When he was healthy, he was a pretty dominant goaltender and he’s shown that in Dallas,” said Jets centre Jim Slater. “The biggest thing in Atlanta was to try and keep him healthy, but he could never stay healthy for a full year. It looks like he’s got that under control now.”
Since the Stars are playing on consecutive nights and have an important home date with the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, it’s possible backup Richard Bachman might get the call in goal for the visitors.
Going into Tuesday’s game with the Minnesota Wild, Lehtonen is 28-15-4 with a 2.26 goals against average and .924 save percentage in 48 games.
The Stars boast one Manitoban on their roster in forward Ryan Garbutt, a graduate of the Winnipeg South Blues in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League who went on to spend four seasons with Brown University before turning pro.
Garbutt has a goal and two points in 12 NHL games this season, an impressive accomplishment for a guy whose start came with the Corpus Christi Icerays of the Central Hockey League back in 2009-10.
Stars defenceman Mark Fistric spent 35 games with the Manitoba Moose in 2008-09 when the team, helping the team reach the Calder Cup final.
The Stars’ coaching staff features bench boss Glen Gulutzan, who was born in The Pas but grew up in Hudson Bay, Sask., and assistant Paul Jerrard, a Winnipegger.