Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jets need spark from Burmistrov's return to lineup

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Burmistrov has had enough. The talented young Russian centre for the Winnipeg Jets has been injured three times this season and, to put it mildly, he's sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Burmistrov is expected to be back in the lineup for the Jets tonight in Tampa after missing two games with a concussion from crashing into the boards in a loss to Carolina on Jan. 23. He was previously out of the lineup on two other occasions but before the collision in Carolina he was seeing more time on the Jets' top line as the club tries to tap into the offensive potential of the 20-year-old.

Burmistrov has nine goals and 18 points in 45 games.

"I feel good, no symptoms or anything," Burmistrov said. "I'm good to go, I think. That's the first (concussion). Maybe for the first three days I felt dizzy, but right now it feels good. It's really hard to watch. I think I was more tired than anybody last night. I feel tired and I didn't play.

"It's really tough when you have injuries. It's never happened to me like this. Last year I missed eight games because of a broken ankle and I never had something like that before. This year I've already had three injuries. Hopefully I'll be healthy."

-- TONE SETTER? Jets coach Claude Noel was asked if Tuesday's 2-1 shootout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers could set the tone for the rest of this stretch of the road trip that includes today's game in Tampa, Friday's date with the Florida Panthers in Sunrise and Sunday's matchup with the Canadiens in Montreal.

"It's hard to say," Noel said. "I would like to say it would, but (Tuesday) is one game. If we can have back-to-back efforts like that and play close to that then we set ourselves up to be a better road team, which is what we need to be. To me, we just showed we're a lot better as a group of 20 than we are as a group of 14 or fragmented in a group of pieces.

"We had energy and that really sowed me a lot about the team, their mindset and what they want. That's what I was most happy about."

-- WHEN OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS...: Noel has been impressed with the work of Aaron Gagnon in his two games since being promoted from St. John's. Ditto for Spencer Machacek, who made his Jets debut in Philly. All that said, he'd like the pair of them -- particularly Gagnon -- to squeeze this opportunity by the throat.

"Sometimes you're afraid to make a mistake, but you've got to play," Noel said. "Gagnon was taking 25-second shifts and I said, 'C'mon, let's play.' He can play here but sometimes you have to convince the player, 'You can take this step. You're not playing against God and his family. You're playing against other humans. They put their pants on the same as you do, so let's go.'

"I'd like to see him get going a little bit because he can give us more as he gets comfortable. I think there's more of a player there than we know."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 2, 2012 D2

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