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Bogosian expected back for Jets vs. Panthers

by Mike Battaglino

PANTHERS (14-17-5) at JETS (15-16-5)


Last 10: Florida 7-3-0; Winnipeg 4-5-1

Season series: The Florida Panthers defeated the Winnipeg Jets 5-2 on Dec. 5 in the first game as former Southeast Division rivals. Florida defenseman Dylan Olsen scored his first NHL goal, and the Panthers held a 4-1 lead early in the third period.

Big story: Winnipeg defenseman Zach Bogosian is expected to be back in the lineup after being sidelined since Nov. 15 with a groin injury. The Jets lost 10 of the 15 games he missed (5-7-3).

"Anytime you come back in the lineup you just try to play your game and help out the team as much as possible, and that's what I plan on doing when I do come back," Bogosian told the team website Thursday. "I don't think one guy coming back is going to change things around; I think it has to be collectively as a group, and hopefully I can help out any way possible."

Team Scope:

Panthers: Including the victory against Winnipeg in the first week of December, Florida has won seven of eight games, the latest 4-2 at the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

Florida was 4-11-4 when it acquired Olsen and forward Jimmy Hayes from the Chicago Blackhawks in a trade for forward Kris Versteeg. The Panthers are 10-6-1 since.

"We've added Olsen, we've added Hayes, and both [Nick] Bjugstad and [Aleksander] Barkov have really turned it on and have played well," general manager Dale Tallon told Fox Sports Florida. "… Everybody's starting to play better as a group and understanding each other and trusting each other and starting to believe in each other. So those are all the things that have combined for us to turn things around here and get back into the playoff hunt."

Goalie Tim Thomas (groin) can be activated from injured reserve Friday, but Scott Clemmensen has won four in a row without allowing more than two goals in any of those games.

"Obviously, your best player is your goaltender, and we've been getting a lot of that lately too," defenseman Tom Gilbert said.

Jets: Bogosian is third on Winnipeg in time on ice per game, at 22:50 and played about 28:00 in the two games prior to being injured against the Philadelphia Flyers in mid-November.

"He's got weight (215 pounds), he's passionate, and he can get the puck stopped, and he can jump up, and he can do a lot of things where you can see him; he's an effective player," coach Claude Noel said. "... He's a guy that should be in your top four and pretty much has been since I've been here. He's a guy that can really help you, and we look forward to having him back in the lineup."

Bogosian practiced in a pairing with Tobias Enstrom on Thursday. After scoring 15 points in 22 games last season, Enstrom has 10 in 36 this season, four in his past 31.

"I'm still trying to focus on my game and try to play the game the way I want," Enstrom said. "But having Zach next to me, it's good. He's a good skater, brings size, so I'll feel comfortable having him next to me."

Who's hot: Barkov has five points in his past five games. … Jets forward Mark Scheifele has five points in a four-game streak.

Injury report: Panthers forward Jesse Winchester (hand) is out. ... Jets forward James Wright (flu) did not play Tuesday. Defenseman Paul Postma (blood clot) and forwards Matt Halischuk (forearm) and Jim Slater (sports hernia) are out.

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