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Winnipeg Jets Notebook

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FORT LAUDERDALE -- Winnipeg Jets all-star defenceman Dustin Byfuglien was not on the ice with his teammates Monday as they practised in preparation for today's game against the Florida Panthers.

"Buff is taking care of a family matter," said head coach Claude Noel, after putting his club through a 60-minute skate at BB&T Center. "He should join us tomorrow."

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Noel admitted weather could prove problematic in getting Byfuglien to Florida in time for the game (6:30 p.m., TSN Jets, TSN 1290).

"We'll see what happens," said Noel. "If he can't make it, (Derek) Meech will go in."

BLAKE'S BACK: Jets winger Blake Wheeler took part in practice and said he was feeling fine.

"I'm good. It turned out to be not as bad as I originally expected. I drank a lot of milk as a kid and I guess that helped," said Wheeler.

Wheeler blocked a shot in Saturday's loss to the Washington Capitals and left the game for a time. Following the game, Noel called his injury day-to-day and termed it a "deep bone contusion."

JETS COMBO: Jets winger Anthony Peluso has been lost to the team with an injured hand for a few weeks at least and it looks like Antti Miettinen will draw in on a line with Olli Jokinen and James Wright.

"Antti's a smart player. We played together a little bit at the Olympics," said Jokinen.

Noel was also tinkering with Kyle Wellwood on a line with Jim Slater and Eric Tangradi. Winger Chris Thorburn appeared to be the odd man out but that could change by game time.

KILLER KANE: Jets captain Andrew Ladd watched the highlights of Sunday's Chicago Blackhawks shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings and marvelled at the play of his old teammate Patrick Kane.

"He's the most skilled guy I've ever played with. Certainly the best hands and I think the best hands in the game today," said Ladd, who watched Kane score the equalizer late in the third period and then the winner in the shootout. "He's driven to be the best in the game. He's got the skill and that drive. There aren't many better out there."

PAVS AND FLATS: Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec credits goalie coach Wade Flaherty with a big role in the player's bounceback after a shaky start.

"It's no secret I wasn't very good right after the lockout. I don't know what it was. I'm so lucky to have Flats. He played in this league for a long time and knows what it takes to be here. He doesn't try to change me. He just focuses on the details of what I do. He doesn't wait to tell me if he doesn't like something. He tells me right away. So I always know where I stand," said Pavelec.

KEEPING BUSY: Pavelec has started nine straight for the Jets and don't be surprised if he plays every game this week as well.

"Will he play in all four games on this trip? You have to measure the games and see how they go and what the workload is. He's gone pretty well of late but somewhere here in March where we play 16 games, that's a pretty heavy load, and I'd like to think he won't play all of them," said Noel. "He's been very important for us and as he goes we go. He gives us an opportunity. He's in a really good groove and he's confident."

-- Lawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 5, 2013 D3

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