INDICATIONS grew clearer Friday that Dustin Byfuglien's date at the NHL all-star game next weekend is likely off.

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This article was published 20/1/2012 (3778 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES
Dustin Byfuglien could take part in today�s morning skate.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Dustin Byfuglien could take part in today�s morning skate.

INDICATIONS grew clearer Friday that Dustin Byfuglien's date at the NHL all-star game next weekend is likely off.

Neither the Jets nor the NHL have said so yet, but Byfuglien's second straight all-star game appearance, this time in Ottawa, doesn't appear to be in the cards.

The dominant blue-liner has not played since before Christmas, out now nearly a month because of a wonky knee. He is on the mend, and was on the ice Friday at MTS Iceplex but he still hasn't participated in a full team practice, something head coach Claude Noel holds as a firm standard when it comes to players returning to his lineup.

"He's a little ways... he's got to start practising with us a little bit first," Noel said Friday.

Byfuglien certainly isn't a player when the Jets meet the Florida Panthers tonight (6 p.m., CBC, TSN 1290) at the MTS Centre, so that leaves only two more games before the all-star game, Monday in Carolina and Tuesday in New York's Madison Square Garden.

Asked if Byfuglien will go on the trip with the team, Noel said that today's morning skate, in which he expects Byfuglien will try to participate, will tell.

"This is what we're contemplating," Noel said. "I think he might skate with us in the morning, get some icetime with us, then we're trying to toss around bringing him with us, to get him on the ice and get going.

"I'm not sure he's going to be able to play. He hasn't practised with the team yet. He's a little ways away from that.

"The next question is the all-star situation. I'm not quite sure where that lends itself. He needs to play a game or two in my estimation to be able to play in the all-star game, so that might be up in the air.

"My preference would be that we make sure he's 100 per cent or close before he takes part in the all-star game. He needs to play with us first."

 

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The NHL took a dim view of Nik Antropov's third-period offensive-zone check of Buffalo's T.J. Brennan on Thursday. Antropov was fined US$2,500 by the NHL Friday. He received a roughing penalty on the play at 9:28 of the third period.

 

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He has run both hot and cold within his drought but the fact remains that left-winger Evander Kane has not scored in 10 games.

Kane was sent home Friday, not feeling well.

Thursday, Kane led the Jets with six shots on goal but coach Claude Noel withheld a ringing endorsement of that stat.

"I think that line was really energized with Wheeler," was Noel's take.

Noel said Kane, stuck on 18 goals for the season, has remained a streaky player for the Jets.

"I don't think he's getting the quality shots he was before," Noel said. "Last night he got some opportunities. So far he's been a little bit streaky in his play, his game. That's continuing. For me what you look for in a player is that he's continuing to get scoring chances.

"There was a pocket of time he wasn't getting a lot. Some of that had to do with Wheeler being out of the lineup.

"There are a lot of different things there. He wouldn't be the only person that wasn't going very well."

Kane certainly has seen more attention from opponents.

"People are aware of what he can do," Noel said. "The way I see that is that it should be a compliment to a player but on that side of it ... there's not a lot of space. It's a hard adjustment for players. You have to find more space."

 

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Friday, the Jets returned defenceman Paul Postma to the AHL's St. John's IceCaps.

He was up for four games, mainly due to the team's banged-up defence corps, but didn't see any action this time. The IceCaps could also be getting some more help.

The Jets placed defenceman Derek Meech on waivers and sounded Friday as if the IceCaps will be Meech's short-term destination. The hometown free-agent signing last summer has played just two games this season and is pretty much recovered from knee surgery.

"I think it's really good that he gets an opportunity to play somewhere where he's not going to be under the microscope," said Noel.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca