Dallas Stars Practice Update: Curtis McKenzie Recalled as Patrick Eaves Goes on IR
The injury-plagued forward is back on the shelf with a lower-body injury, giving McKenzie a chance to crack the lineup again at the NHL level.
It was almost all good news for the Dallas Stars out of Tuesday's 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. The offense peppered the Oilers with shots, the defense kept the dangerous chances to a minimum, and Kari Lehtonen made that save at that time to give his team the chance to win the game.
But there was a least one down note - an injury to forward Patrick Eaves, who left in the first period and did not return.
Here's a GIF of the likely play where Eaves was injured.
Eaves injured after toe pick & falling into boards pic.twitter.com/MY6HfV9xYB— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 14, 2015
You can see Eaves clack feet with Oliver Klefbom (totally inadvertent on both sides) and slide hard into the boards, hitting with his right kneecap and upper body. As he's falling, his right ankle also appears to roll a bit underneath him. Either the knee or ankle could be the culprit here, and in the grand tradition of the NHL, the team isn't talking other than calling it a lower body injury.
According to Lindy Ruff after Tuesday's practice, the news is actually pretty good - the timetable looks like "a couple weeks" for Eaves' recovery which points to something on the more minor end of the injury spectrum.
In the meantime, Curtis McKenzie has rejoined the NHL squad after being recalled from the Texas Stars.
It's unclear how much he might play in Eaves' absence - Colton Sceviour played well in his first game of the season on Tuesday, Travis Moen has been a nice fourth-line option with Vernon Fiddler, and Valeri Nichushkin isn't likely to be a regular healthy scratch. The team is also likely to be cautious about preserving McKenzie's waiver-exempt status - he a limited number of games left before waivers would kick in.
"Curtis has added that physical presence, went down and played one game in the American League and had three assists, from what I understand played real well," Ruff said. "For me, a young player like Curtis, I like seeing him go down and seeing bigger minutes, bigger roles, handling the puck more, because sometimes it's tough when you come up here and don't get that same role.
"The meeting with him was he was going to go and be the best player down there, and from what I understand he was. That's a good thing for us."
Ruff also said that Jyrki Jokipakka and Jordie Benn, who he called his 5/6 pair, have been playing very well and have been one of the steadiest pairs for the team so far, making it difficult to justify changes on the back end.
Indeed, the entire team played well Tuesday in the win over Edmonton, and Ruff was particularly pleased at how the team's top-end players responded to his comments that they needed to be better.
"If we play a lot of games like that, we're going to win a lot of games," Ruff said. "There was very little to look for and dislike. The overall effort was tremendous. I thought our guys that needed to lead, the Benns and Spezzas and Sharp, you name it, those guys were our best players. At the end of the night, when you have that type of an effort and create those types of situations, you're going to win a lot of games.
"That was pretty well a blueprint of how you want to play."
Even with the recall of McKenzie, it was hard to get a sense of the Stars lines at practice today as both Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin were given maintenance days after they carried high minute loads against the Oilers. While Benn has picked up two goals already this young season, Seguin has been a little snakebit, though not for lack of trying. He had 10 shots on goal last night and 31 shot attempts over the past two games.
That's... a lot. He joked on his weekly BaD Radio show that if he doesn't play well against the Lightning on Thursday, he may shave his beard just to change things up.
Here's video of Ruff's scrum before the team took off for Tampa: