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At the Rink blog

Flood's return to lineup eases burden on Jets' defense

Friday, 02.24.2012 / 10:40 AM

By Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent / At the Rink blog

WINNIPEG -- Zach Bogosian's continued absence finally meant an entry into the Winnipeg Jets' lineup for Mark Flood.

The injured Bogosian missed the Jets' 4-3 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, his fifth consecutive absence. Randy Jones had replaced Bogosian on the Winnipeg blue line. Flood continued to remain a healthy scratch and before playing the Lightning had not dressed for a game since Jan. 19.

But Jets coach Claude Noel opted to go with seven defensemen against Tampa Bay and scratch forwards Eric Fehr and Antti Miettinen. A chaotic 5-4 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night had left the Winnipeg defense corps drained, and neither Fehr nor Miettinen has shown any indication of breaking loose of their season-long slumps.

Returning Flood to game action has been an objective for Noel in recent days. The Jets are loathe to attempt slipping Flood through the NHL waiver wire in order to assign him to the St. John's IceCaps, their AHL affiliate. Playing both Flood and Jones also allows the Jets to showcase one of the two for a potential trade before the NHL's Monday deadline, though Noel shooed away any such speculation on Thursday morning.

Flood stepped into the lineup and allowed the Winnipeg coaching staff to dial down the minutes that their workhorse defensemen had to play. Dustin Byfuglien, who played 26:51 against Philadelphia, logged a more manageable 20:32 with Flood available to provide blue-line relief. Ron Hainsey's ice time decreased from 24:24 on Tuesday to 19:51 against the Lightning.

Flood finished with 9:03 of ice time and assisted on the Jets' second goal.

Playing for my favorite team growing up, I've probably scored that goal a million times in my driveway. It feels good to actually do it in real life.

— Dale Weise, who grew up a Canadiens fan, on scoring the overtime winner in Montreal's 5-4 victory against Tampa Bay in Game 1