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Now they need Zach back

Buff in lineup for sure, Bogosian's return imminent

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It might be tonight vs. the Flyers or Friday vs. the Pens. But soon -- very soon -- the Winnipeg Jets will have a full defensive corps at their disposal.

Dustin Byfuglien will be back in the lineup against Philadelphia after missing five games and Zach Bogosian, who had off-season wrist surgery and has yet to suit up this year, is not that far away from his first action.

When those two are both back in the lineup it will mark the first time since April 7, 2012 -- last year's regular-season finale -- that the Jets will have all defensive hands on deck.

"I felt pretty good at practice again today. I'm feeling pretty good. Hopefully, it's soon," said Bogosian. "It's been a good few weeks. The main thing now with practising is just getting my timing back. Obviously, you don't want to jump into a game where you're timing's not very good.

"You can't really be game-ready until you're actually in a game. I've had a couple good practices with the guys and had a few bumps in the corner and haven't had any issues. Hopefully it's turned the corner a little bit and I'm back soon."

Bogosian first practised with the team last week and accompanied them to Ottawa, although he didn't dress on the weekend. And as much as sitting in the press box absolutely stinks, he also doesn't want to rush his recovery.

Neither does management.

"It's tough sitting up there," Bogosian said. "It's something where you have to have a few minds working with this because if one person makes a bad decision you can really hurt yourself... which probably would have been my decision. But the training staff, coaches and management have been great with me so far, just being patient with it. Hopefully I'm back soon and whenever I'm back in the lineup I can do my part and get my timing back right away.

"Just to be on the plane with the guys and be back in the locker-room feels good. It's definitely a mental refresher. Just to be back with the guys and in the same routine as them makes you feel more a part of the team."


AN UGLY NUMBER: Jets' winger Blake Wheeler, the club's leading scorer a year ago, is sporting a team-worst minus-9.

"To me, Blake Wheeler is a plus player," said head coach Claude Noel. "That's the one indication that may be a little skewed right now. Sometimes it's wrong place, wrong time. But at the end of the day when I ask myself how Blake played... he was a plus player last year in an offensive role and we anticipate he's going to be that player again this year.

"He's got a little ways to go, but he's a conscientious player about the team and how to play the right way. He's trying to do the right things. Sometimes you hit these bumps and you just have to deal with them."


AND THE STARTING GOALTENDER IS...: Noel won't tip his hand as to which netminder will get the nod against the Flyers, serving up the usual "game-time decision" refrain. But Pavelec has practised for two straight days and is now eating after waking up early last Friday with flu-like symptoms.

"I feel better," Pavelec said. "It surprised me a little bit because I had the flu shot a couple weeks ago. I don't know if it was from the food or something else. I'm happy it's behind me and I can eat, finally." Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 12, 2013 C2

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