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Hainsey uncertain to start tonight in Beantown

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- It was another setback for Jets defenceman Ron Hainsey Friday.

The veteran blue-liner, who had returned Wednesday from a 16-game injury absence, lasted only a few minutes at the morning skate at RBC Center before he had to leave the ice.

He was a scratch at game time, bringing Mark Flood back into the lineup. Arturs Kulda appeared to be taking Flood's place for Friday's game against the Canes, but both wound up having to play.

After the game, Jets coach Claude Noel didn't sound terribly optimistic about Hainsey's status.

"It's day-to-day," Noel said. "He wasn't great today. He hit a bump in the road again. We'll see how he feels tomorrow. That'll probably be a game-time decision. We'll see how it goes."

The Jets are in Boston tonight. Hainsey played more than 23 minutes on Wednesday.

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If there was a tempest in the making with the reduced icetime of Jets second-year pro Alexander Burmistrov, it probably ended on Friday night.

In the previous two games, the 20-year-old forward played about 13 and eight minutes.

It was about coaching, Jets coach Claude Noel said.

It was probably about some mistakes, Burmistrov had admitted.

Friday, Burmistrov was back to within a minute of his season's average, playing 17:04 and regularly through all three periods on a line mostly with Jim Slater and Tanner Glass.

Noel, who downplayed the icetime on Thursday, even had Burmistrov on the ice with a minute to go and the score 2-1 for Winnipeg on Friday night.

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Some coaches simply won't do it, but Carolina coach Paul Maurice fielded a couple of questions about his opponents on Friday morning. He was asked to make some comparisons of the Jets to last season's Atlanta Thrashers.

"The first six, seven weeks, they were as good as any team in the NHL last year," Maurice said. "I still maintain that that schedule killed them. It was worse than ours and that's saying something."

Maurice was referring to Atlanta's wicked December, which finished with the team alternating home and road games for the last eight games of the month. That energy-sapping schedule showed up in the second half.

"I think that had a big impact on their team, not being able to continue that (play)," Maurice said. "Confidence is everything in this league and you can see it in their last four games against good teams. Now, all of a sudden, a lot of their players with the same names on their back look different -- bigger, strong and faster and making better plays."

-- -- --

It is often dangerous to lay any team's problems at the feet of just one player.

There is likely some correlation, however, between the Carolina Hurricanes' sub-.500 record (8-12-4) after last night's home game against the Winnipeg Jets and the production of captain Eric Staal.

Staal has been in something of a stall so far, having scored just four goals and 10 points for the Canes in 22 games. He was scoreless again Friday in the 3-1 loss to the Jets. And his minus-17 is a league worst.

"It's been an interesting year for me so far," Staal said after the morning skate on Friday. "I'm still getting a lot of opportunties, a lot of looks, a lot of shots. They don't seem to be falling right now. But you have to stay positive, stay with it, stay on the gas. You've got to think that'll even out over the course of 82 games."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 26, 2011 $sourceSection0

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