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Patrick Eaves makes Ducks complete

Forward has sparked second-half run for Anaheim, which hosts Flames in Game 2 on Saturday

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray is a lot like a shopper on Black Friday, almost always looking for a deal. This year, he wasn't sure.

Just in case, he asked his staff for some names leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline on March 1, and they had one for him, someone who possibly could be a fit for captain Ryan Getzlaf down the stretch of the regular season and for a run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I said, 'Give me some names.' And they had [Patrick] Eaves right at the top," Murray said of the 32-year-old forward. "I said, 'Why?' And they said, 'We think he can play with [Getzlaf].'" Then if we can get [Rickard Rakell] and Corey [Perry] playing against the other team's second and third (defense) pairs, that's critical for us."

Talk about depth. Not many teams can put a former League MVP (Perry, 2010-11) and a 33-goal scorer (Rakell) on the third line. Forward Nick Ritchie was suspended for the final regular-season game and Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round against the Calgary Flames. Without Ritchie for the series opener, the Ducks had Rakell with Getzlaf and Eaves, and put rookie Ondrej Kase on a line with center Antoine Vermette and Perry. Getzlaf (one goal, one assist), Eaves (one assist) and Rakell (one goal) combined for four points in a 3-2 win on Thursday.

Game 2 is at Honda Center on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, FS-W).

The arrival of Eaves gave Ducks coach Randy Carlyle another card in an enviable playing hand.

 

[RELATED: Complete Ducks-Flames series coverage]

 

"Patrick has come in and added stability," Carlyle said. "We really needed more offense and he's come in and given us that. Corey's been scoring now.

"It gives me the option to move Ritchie up and down. In some situations, Rakell is on the third line to get him away from the top defensive pairs. We've been more comfortable with our group. We've settled."

The Ducks acquired Eaves on Feb. 24 from the Dallas Stars for a conditional pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. So far, it arguably has been the most impactful trade in the League this season. After joining the Ducks, Eaves had 14 points (11 goals, three assists) in 20 games. He finished with an NHL career-high 51 points (32 goals, 19 assists) in 79 games.

The night Murray and Carlyle were talking about his impact happened to be in Calgary, on April 2, a few hours before Eaves scored his 30th goal of the season.

Calgary is a special place for Eaves, even if his earliest memories are a little hazy. He was born there in 1984 and his father, Mike, played for the Flames for parts of three seasons in the 1980s, including 11 playoff games in 1983-84 and eight more in 1985-86.

Patrick's 81-year-old grandmother, Norah, still lives in Calgary and was on hand to see him score goal No. 30.

"It was pretty cool to do that," Eaves said. "My grandmother and uncle were there and cousins and friends. To do it there was even better.

"I'm pretty proud of her too."

Mike Eaves, who, after a long career coaching at Wisconsin, is coaching Division III hockey at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, often likes to say this is his third act.

There have been times during Patrick Eaves' career when it wasn't clear he would get a second act in the NHL. He scored 20 goals in his rookie season with the Ottawa Senators in 2005-06, but injuries kept knocking him out of the lineup, most notably in his tenure with the Detroit Red Wings from 2009-14.

It was unclear he would ever score another goal, let alone hit the milestone of 30 in a season.

"It says a lot," Mike Eaves told NHL.com. "He's been through a lot. His journey hasn't been easy at times with the injuries and stuff. But he's stuck through it. His wife has been there. His kids and even the dog at home have been great sources of stability and healing. He's kept everything in perspective.

"Maybe the best thing about Pat is that he's been a good pro. He's understood what his role has been no matter where he's been and he's tried to do that, and he's a good pro when it comes to that kind of stuff."

Carlyle appreciates Eaves because he goes to the front of the net on a consistent basis and does so without a lot of bluster.

His hockey IQ is what you might expect having grown up in a hockey household. Patrick's brother, Ben, played minor league hockey and is an assistant at St. Olaf.

"My brother and I learned how to play hockey when we didn't even know we were learning because my dad was able to teach the game in a way I understand it," Patrick said. "It's pretty cool to have a dad with a high hockey IQ. He can dumb it down and teach it too. We still chat (about hockey) to this day. My mom will roll her eyes."

Eaves has received almost as much attention for his impressive beard as his goal-scoring. In fact, he looks as if he could neatly slide into a Civil War reenactment weekend.

He said his wife encouraged the look and his Ducks teammates will tug his beard every now and again for fun. 

"That look is quite prevalent in California," Carlyle said to a group of bemused reporters.

Perhaps Carlyle was thinking of the brothers-in-beards up north -- Brent Burns and Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks.

Mike Eaves is cool with the beard

"You just go whatever is working," he said.

How about Patrick's grandmother in Calgary?

"If she had her druthers, she would like to see his face and not his beard," Mike said, laughing.

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