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Eaves on pace for Oct. 26 return

Babcock leery of Coyotes, says they are much better than last two lopsided losses

Thursday, 10.10.2013 / 1:23 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor |
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Eaves on pace for Oct. 26 return

Patrick Eaves is skating again with his Red Wings teammates and said Thursday that he'll be ready to return to the lineup by Oct. 26 when he'll be eligible to come off of LTIR. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT Patrick Eaves never played football, but he definitely knows what an offensive lineman must go through when someone falls on the back of his leg.

Three weeks ago, the Red Wings’ fourth-line center suffered an injury to his left leg during a practice at Joe Louis Arena. The freak accident resulted in sprains to Eaves’ MCL and ankle.

“I was just standing in front of the net tipping the puck and two guys were battling behind me and one guy laid on my leg,” said Eaves, who began the season on long-term injured reserve. “I didn’t even see it. I just felt him. My leg was pinned underneath me. I couldn’t get him off me.”

Eaves has skated with the Wings this week, but isn’t eligible to return to the lineup before Oct. 26 when Detroit hosts the New York Rangers.

“I’ll be ready when I come off IR for sure,” said Eaves, who produced two goals and six assists in 34 games last season. “A little bad luck there, but it is what it is.”

Players placed on LTIR, like Eaves and center Darren Helm (lower back), must sit out a minimum of 10 games and 24 days.

Though he’s managed to skate in most of the team’s on-ice drills at practice, Eaves is still experiencing some pain and discomfort associated with the sprains. But that’s to be expected since doctors told him that he would be out 2-4 weeks.

“I have a little bit (of pain), still,” he said, “but I got some time here to get rid of that and be back and be ready.”

Eaves plans to go on the road next week when the Red Wings travel to Colorado and Phoenix.

TRAP GAME: Though the Coyotes have scored just one goal in each of their last two games – road losses to San Jose and New York Islanders – Wings coach Mike Babcock is leery of their ability to bounce back tonight, especially against a team that hasn’t played since last Saturday.

“The last two games haven’t gone the way they wanted,” Babcock said. “I’ve coached against Tipper (Phoenix coach Dave Tippett) for a long time and he does a real good job and they’re not going to be playing like that for long.”

This week’s hiatus is the first of three four-day breaks the Red Wings will have prior to the league’s shutdown for the Winter Olympics in February. Will the layoff help or hurt the Red Wings?

“Well, I don’t know if rust is a concern,” Babcock said. “Our big thing is take advantage when they give you rest. Obviously, we would have liked not to play back to back. … We’ve had a chance to work on our game here and give our guys an opportunity to get fresh. We need to get started on time tonight and play a good game. We’ve got to improve as a team.”

For a veteran like Daniel Alfredsson, the schedule in an Olympic year is nothing new, and the Wings still need to use is as a positive.

“I think it’s a good situation. We played three games, now we had time to work on the things we needed to work on,” Alfredsson said. “It gives us a chance to evaluate and get some practice time.

“We know this year there’s the Olympic break for most of the guys. It’s always been like this. October is slow, November and December get a little busier and then it’s really hectic in January and February and March.

“You kind of know how to deal with everything. I think it’s very important to look at the positive side of it. We’re not the only team that’s going through this. Everybody is in the same boat, so make the most of it.”

As for tonight’s game, aside from right wing Radim Vrbata who recorded a hat trick in a 4-1 season-opening win over the New York Rangers, the Wings are in for a challenge against the Coyotes’ young lineup.

“Obviously, a real mobile back end, I mean, (Oliver) Ekman-Larsson I think is a real good player,” Babcock said. “(Keith) Yandle can really skate. (David) Rundblad looks like he’s going to be a player. (David) Schlemko they can move the puck on the back. (Mike) Smith can really move the puck and is a huge goaltender when he’s dialed in. Solid down the middle suddenly with (Martin) Hanzal, (Mike) Ribeiro and (Antoine) Vermette, should be real solid. They’ve got a real good looking team.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose




1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
7 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
8 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
9 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47


D. Larkin 51 18 19 25 37
H. Zetterberg 52 9 25 2 34
T. Tatar 51 15 17 -2 32
G. Nyquist 52 14 15 -2 29
J. Abdelkader 52 14 12 -4 26
P. Datsyuk 37 6 20 11 26
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 38 5 10 6 15
D. DeKeyser 48 6 8 12 14
P. Mrazek 19 10 4 .932 2.03
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89