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Jets to give Alexander Burmistrov more ice time

Winnipeg forward moving up lineup with Bryan Little out; Wild looking for better effort in home opener

by Jessi Pierce / NHL.com Correspondent

JETS (1-0-0) at WILD (0-1-0)

7 p.m. ET; SN1, FS-N, FS-WI, NHL.TV

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Winnipeg Jets will be without center Bryan Little against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday.

Little sustained a lower-body injury after colliding with Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell early in the first period of the Jets' 5-4 overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes in their home opener Thursday.

"Losing [Little], that opens up holes pretty much everywhere in our lineup," Jets captain Blake Wheeler said. "He plays a big role for us 5-on-5, shorthanded and on the power play. He's a huge part of what we do and it's going to give some guys an opportunity to step up and play some meaningful minutes."

One of those players will be forward Alexander Burmistrov, who was a healthy scratch Thursday. Burmistrov centered Shawn Matthias and Nikolaj Ehlers during the morning skate.

"My goal is to go up there and play my offensive game and show the coach that I can be in an offensive role," Burmistrov said. "Right now it's the beginning of the season and everyone wants to show what they can do, so it's a big game for us."

Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said Burmistrov will have the opportunity to see more ice time and to increase his offensive presence beginning Saturday. Burmistrov had seven goals and 21 points in 81 games last season. Selected by the Atlanta Thrashers with the eighth pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, Burmistrov has 79 points (30 goals, 49 assists) in 275 NHL games. Prior to returning to Winnipeg last season he spent two seasons playing in the Kontinental Hockey League.

"We have a lot of faith in the defensive part of [Burmistrov's] game," Maurice said. "He has not played with a lot of offensive players since he's been here, so now he's going to play with a little bit more skill, a certain simplicity in his game. We're going to give him the opportunity to get good minutes in a role with skilled players. There are times when he's shown that he has the ability to make those plays. But he's also shown the ability to be a good, solid defensive player. So I'd like to see both."

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said his team will have to be strong defensively to contain Jets' offensive threats, among them Wheeler, Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine.

"We've played Connor twice [in preseason games]," Boudreau said. "You can't give him an inch or he's going to put the puck in the net. He's a natural at that. Laine, you saw the shot he had. I think he was rope-a-doping in preseason and now he's ready to play like a lot of the guys. You just can't let him shoot. He's got a world-class shot."

It will be Boudreau's home debut as Wild coach. He said he found very few positives from the season-opening 3-2 loss at the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.

"We only lost by one," he said. "Of course we didn't stink. But we just want to be better. There's a lot of little positives but it wasn't a 60-minute positive thing."

The Wild went 1-4-0 against the Jets last season. Boudreau said every game against them in a difficult Central Division is going to matter.

"I think both teams realize that they have to beat each other if they want to make the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs," Boudreau said. "It makes it more real. … Out of the five games that we play, every game is a must game against these guys."

Video: WPG@VAN: Burmistrov roofs wrister to pad the lead

  

Wild projected lineup

Zach Parise -- Eric Staal -- Charlie Coyle

Mikael Granlund -- Mikko Koivu -- Jason Pominville

Nino Niederreiter -- Erik Haula -- Chris Stewart

Jason Zucker -- Zac Dalpe -- Teemu Pulkkinen

Ryan Suter -- Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella -- Matt Dumba

Christian Folin -- Jonas Brodin

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Mike Reilly, Nate Prosser

Injured: None

 

Jets projected lineup 

Patrik Laine -- Mark Scheifele -- Blake Wheeler

Shawn Matthias -- Alexander Burmistrov -- Nikolaj Ehlers

Kyle Connor -- Mathieu Perreault -- Drew Stafford

Brandon Tanev -- Adam Lowry -- Chris Thorburn

Josh Morrissey -- Dustin Byfuglien

Toby Enstrom -- Tyler Myers

Mark Stuart -- Paul Postma

Michael Hutchinson

Connor Hellebuyck

Scratched: Ben Chiarot, Joel Armia

Injured: Bryan Little (lower body

 

Status report

Folin will make his season debut Saturday after being a healthy scratch Thursday. Boudreau said with Folin's size (6-foot-3, 204 pounds) he was a perfect fit for the physical game the Jets bring. … Hutchinson will make his first start of the season. Hellebuyck made 23 saves in the win Thursday.

 

Who's hot

Laine had a goal and an assist in the third period Thursday.

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