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Tangradi's first game as a Jet against old teammates on Pens

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WINNIPEG — Eric Tangradi’s first game as a member of the Winnipeg Jets and Zach Bogosian’s first NHL game in 10 months are the morning headlines ahead of tonight’s contest at the MTS Centre between the Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins (6 p.m. CT, CBC, TSN1290).

Bogosian, fully recovered from off-season wrist surgery, plays his first game of the season.. He’s been practising with team for more than a week.

Tangradi arrived via a Wednesday trade with Pittsburgh and had his first on-ice time with his teammates this morning.

He skated on a line with Olli Jokinen and Kyle Wellwood.

Wellwood said he’s more than happy to be matched with a new teammate.

"It’s a blessing," Wellwood said. "It’s nice to have him on our team now and playing his old team at home here with the Jets and he should be really excited to play and we’re going to do everything we can as his linemates to get him involved in the play and get him some chances.

"I don’t know too much about him but from practice, he’s got a lot of size and speed and he seems to want to go to the net so that should be a good combination for me to try to get him the puck in those areas."

Tangradi, 24, has played only five games this season with the Pens and is goalless in his last 39 NHL starts.

He had 10 goals and 18 points in 34 AHL games this season with Wilkes-Barre.

He said this morning though he has had opportunities to play with some of Pittsburgh’s stars like Evgeni Malkin, they weren’t reflective of his real abilities.

"Sometimes I felt like I had a short leash out there," Tangradi said. "Playing games, that I was playing just not to make a mistake instead of getting to my game. I think that’s what held me back and really prevented me from really getting to my game and doing the things that got me into the NHL."

He said all the talk of potential and opportunity with the Penguins is now water under the bridge.

"Coulda, shoulda, woulda," he said. "I feel at times I had a shorter leash than most guys there. I know the way I’m capable of playing and I can honestly say at times I showed my game in Pittsburgh and other times it was tough to be in the lineup.

"I’m here, I think I’m getting a fair opportunity and I’m looking forward to it."

The opportunity with the Jets is his focus now, he said.

"I’ve been told it is an opportunity," he said. "I’m just looking forward to it. It’s up to me whether I stay there or not. It’s an opportunity I feel I’ve been given in the past so I’m looking forward to it."

Meeting his old team right away provides an interesting storyline.

"It’s a little bit different," Tangradi said. "My first game (is) against the Penguins. It’s kind of like seeing your ex-girlfriend at the bar the next night.

"It’s a little bit different feeling. I have the mindset of no friends tonight. I have new teammates on my side and I’ll play my game and be physical.

"I think this one will be the most nervous I’ll be for the whole season."

Jets coach Claude Noel has jumbled two lines in concert with Tangradi’s arrival.

Evander Kane has now gone to play with Alex Burmistrov and Nik Antropov.

The Jets, 5-6-1, are home for one more game after tonight, that against Boston on Sunday. The Penguins, 9-5-0, played the Jets earlier this season here, losing 4-2.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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