The Winnipeg Jets will be without one of the team’s top defencemen when the Jets play the resurgent Buffalo Sabres Monday at the MTS Centre.
Jets’ coach Claude Noel said Sunday that Zach Bogosian aggravated an old injury during Winnipeg’s 7-0 win over the Florida Panthers Thursday. Bogosian had only just returned to the line up, having missed seven games because of a different injury.
Noel said the defenceman will likely be out a week, meaning he could miss all or part of the Jets upcoming road trip to Calgary and Vancouver.
"I thought he played real well the last game and he’ll be a guy you miss because he’s got weight and size,” Noel said.
Monday’s game against Buffalo carries some interesting subplots. Not that long ago the Sabres were all but written off in the playoff race, but the team has climbed to within two points of Winnipeg for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres arrive in Manitoba off three impressive road wins, against the Vancouver Canucks, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.
The last time the Sabres were in Winnipeg, on Jan. 19, Buffalo lost 4-1 and hadn’t won a road game in 11 tries. The team was headed for the bottom of the Eastern Conference and goalie Ryan Miller was taking much of the blame, so much so that there were calls for him to be traded.
Now the Sabres have won six out of the team's last seven games and Miller is playing his best hockey of the season. He earned back to back shut outs in San Jose and Anaheim and his save percentage has gone from .897 on Jan. 24, to .946 over the last 16 games up to Saturday.
“They look like a way better team,” Noel said Sunday. Miller “looks way different for me now. He looks like he’s got confidence and so does their team.”
The Jets will also face new Sabre Cody Hodgson for the first time, someone Noel knows well. The Vancouver Canucks traded Hodgson to Buffalo for Zack Kassian on Feb. 27. Noel coached Hodgson last season when he played for the Manitoba Moose, the Canucks’ farm team. The 22-year old forward made the Canucks roster this season and has been enjoying remarkable success, getting 16 goals and 17 assists and having his name included in rookie of the year discussions.
Noel said he was not surprised by Hodgson’s break out season. “You’ve got to give him full marks. He’s done real well in the amount of minutes that he’s had,” Noel said referring to Hodgson’s roughly 10 to 12 minutes of playing time per game.
“What I liked about him is when he was here with us, he had tremendous drive to succeed and he had it a lot in the offensive zone,” Noel added. “I think he has a real good vision of what he wants to be and what type of career he wants to have.”
Monday’s game will be the first for Winnipeg since the Jets trounced Florida last Thursday. It also marks the last game in an eight-game home stand for Winnipeg. So far Winnipeg has gone 4-1-2, picking up 10 out of a possible 16 points.