Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Byfuglien will play, Bogosian hopeful

Team managing defenders' hurts

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THE news is not all bad from the Winnipeg Jets' sick bay.

Chris Thorburn may be lost for up to a month, but there were two more positive developments Monday.

-- Defenceman Zach Bogosian practised with the club and while he left early, that was by design. His availability will be a game-time decision before Wednesday's matchup with the scorching Dallas Stars.

-- Dustin Byfuglien did not skate, but head coach Claude Noel said he will play against the Stars.

"We've just got to rest him," said Noel. "He's got a lower, below-the-knee function that needs to stay off the ice a little bit. He'll be fine."

When asked to expand on the 'lower, below-the-knee function' and if Byfuglien had aggravated the knee he had previously injured, Noel wise-cracked: "No. So, eliminate the parts, guys. I'll leave it up to you rocket scientists to do all the work."

'G-S-F' LINE?: The departure of Thorburn -- on a day in which Jim Slater tweeted that new GST shirts became available in the Jets Gear store -- means the team's popular checking line is missing a key component.

Finding a temporary new nickname is hardly atop their to-do list, however.

"It's not all about nicknames now," said Slater with a grin after practice on Monday. "It's fun and for sure we love the GST line and everything, but we're not worried about that. That's not our first priority right now."

Said Tanner Glass on the GST nickname conundrum: "We'll have to figure that out... maybe he's got a 'T' as a middle initial or something like that. We'll have to find something like that for him. Maybe I'll become the 'T' with Tanner and maybe he's got a 'G' we can use."

DON'T LOOK NOW: The Jets didn't get any help over the weekend with respect to the standings, but most insist the situation just helps them focus on what's right ahead of them -- a critical three-game homestand that begins Wednesday against Dallas and includes a visit from Washington on Friday and Carolina on Sunday.

"I did watch some games and saw the scores, but I wasn't living or dying and biting my nails every time there was a shift," said Noel. "We've got 13 games. We know what we're doing, we know where we're going. We'll control what we can control and we'll go from there. We've got to win Wednesday and that's what we'll focus on."

That won't be a problem for Glass.

"I haven't looked at a scoreboard once. I slept all day (Sunday)," he said. "Claude was talking about it on the ice, but I couldn't care less (about what happened on the weekend). We've got Dallas coming up, we've got to beat them. That's it.

"I get enough of it here. I'll watch it if it's on, but I get enough of it at the rink and think about it enough away from the rink. I don't need to be watching other teams play. I have to think about my own game and what I need to do. That's it.

"At this time of year you're just kind of relishing every moment together. We're in a fight for the playoffs. It's kinda fun."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 13, 2012 D3

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