Having finally found a winning formula, Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel has been reluctant to tamper with it.
But after sending out the identical lineup for each of his team's four most recent wins, Noel has no option but to make changes for tonight's clash against the Minnesota Wild because of an injury to defenceman Zach Bogosian.
Noel told reporters Saturday morning following his team's practice at the MTS Centre that Bogosian, who suffered a lower-body injury late in the second period of Winnipeg's 3-2 shootout win over Philadelphia Friday night, will definitely not play tonight in St. Paul and the coach fears that he may be out longer than that.
"He will not be a player in the game (Sunday). And right now I'm not sure he's day to day -- it's longer than that," said Noel.
Noel said pending further examination by doctors Saturday afternoon, it was still too early to say exactly how long Bogosian might be out. But he repeated his assertion that the day-to-day descriptor would be overly optimistic.
"We'll wait and see what the assessment is and go from there. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself there," said Noel. "It's longer than day-to-day. So that hopefully stops you guys from asking me every day how he's doing."
With Bogosian out, Zach Redmond will play his first NHL regular-season game since the femoral artery in his right leg was cut by an errant skate in a potentially life-threatening accident during Jets practice in Raleigh, N.C., Feb. 21.
Redmond was asked Saturday if there was a moment during his lengthy recovery when he doubted he'd ever return to the NHL.
"I don't know if it was so much if it would ever come, it was more just taking each challenge as it comes," Redmond replied.
"I wanted to first of all play (in St. John's) and got those games. And then got up here and went through basically a conditioning stint because we were winning.
"And now here we are... Just playing in a game is going to be great."
Redmond's return after such a long and difficult rehabilitation earned him plaudits in the Jets dressing room for his perseverance.
"He's come a long way," said Noel. "We look forward to getting him back in the lineup again.
"Like I've said before, he's a real good teammate, a popular guy and to see him get back going again after that kind of injury is pretty remarkable."
"He's a good kid. He works hard every day," added Jets centre Olli Jokinen.
"It's good to see him back. Hopefully things go well for him."
With Bogosian out for a bit, the Jets on Saturday also called up defenceman Julian Melchiori from St. John's.
Although injured defencemen Mark Stuart (hip) and Jacob Trouba (neck) both skated with the team during full practice on Saturday, Noel said neither is available yet to play.
The Jets improved to 10-9-2 with Friday's win and have now won four straight and five of their last six games heading into Minnesota.
But the Wild are also surging, boasting a 5-0-1 record in their last six games.
The Wild defeated the Jets 2-1 Oct. 10 in the only meeting between the two teams this season.
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