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Defenceman fills big skates with helper to open scoring

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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With awfully big skates to fill, Winnipeg native Derek Meech picked a very good time to register his first scoring points for the Jets.

 

Drawing into the lineup Monday when defenceman Zach Bogosian went down with a suspected concussion on Saturday, Meech partnered with Dustin Byfuglien and contributed to the Jets' 2-1 victory over the Sabres with an assist on Aaron Gagnon's game-opening goal.

"It feels really good, obviously, to be out for a string of games then come back and contribute to a big win at a key time of year," Meech said. "That's a pretty good thing.

Gagnon re-directed Meech's pass after the defenceman has successfully pinched down the left-side wall.

It was Meech's 14th appearance for the Jets this season, his first since April 1, and he played a season-high 19 minutes 53 seconds.

And there was a distinct element of composure to his game, especially when the Jets were being stymied by Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth.

"He made some pretty good saves," Meech said. "There were some scrambles there where you thought the puck was going go past him and it just didn't go.

"I think the guys handled it really well. When we came back in the room after the periods, we just said keep it going, keep putting pressure on them and I thought we did that. Obviously they got a few chances here and there but overall, we put some pretty good pressure on them and stuck to the gameplan."

 

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Jets left-winger Evander Kane hasn't missed any games, though he did skip Saturday's warmup, and he all but confirmed he's playing with some kind of injury.

Asked after Monday's win if he's 100 per cent, Kane said: "I don't think anybody is this time of year. You've got to play through some injuries and some pain and this is the time where you've got to step up and play for your teammates."

"è "è "è

The Jets recalled defenceman Zach Redmond on Monday after his two AHL games with the St. John's IceCaps over the weekend.

Coach Claude Noel suggested Redmond was not an immediate option for the NHL team because Redmond's leg strength wasn't 100 per cent, but it certainly must be close if he played last weekend.

Redmond, for his part, was thrilled to be back in action after the Feb. 21 skate cut that sliced the femoral artery and nerves and tendons in his right leg. Three hours of surgery repaired the damage.

"I don't know what's going to happen up here but either way it felt great to get a couple of games in," Redmond said. "I think it's important heading into summer. It will take some anticipation off next year."

Now wearing cut-proof hockey pants, Redmond said he felt like himself in the AHL games.

"The first couple of shifts was kind of, 'What's going to happen?'" he said. "Surprisingly, I didn't feel any pain in the leg. I'd taken a couple of months off so there was a little bit of adjustment that had to take place."

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Andrew Ladd threw a mild barb at the NHL on Monday, the day the league named him first star of the week but the Jets stayed largely silent on the league's decision not to discipline Islanders forward Kyle Okposo for hitting Zach Bogosian in the head last Saturday.

"As a player, I guess you feel a hit to the head is a hit to the head," Ladd said. "That's a tough one to take, especially at this time of the year when we really need him in our lineup. That's a team we're battling with for the playoffs and they still have their guy playing."

Cheveldayoff said Monday night there's no point objecting to the NHL's decision.

"The player-safety side reviewed the incident and I spoke with them last night and they called and said that they didn't believe it was worthy of a suspension," the GM said. "They do a good job of looking at each and every one. At the end of the day it's their decision and we have to play."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 23, 2013 D3

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