DETROIT -- Considering the circumstances, Patrick Eaves is fortunate the aching jaw that will keep him out of Wednesday night's game against the Minnesota Wild (7:30 p.m., NBCSN) isn't a more serious injury.
Eaves was hit in the chin during a practice Tuesday by a puck that slid up his stick, and he left the ice after getting to his feet. Eaves went to see a doctor and had X-rays taken, which revealed no fractures. Further tests showed Eaves had instead sprained the Temporomandibular Joints located at both tips of his jaw.
It was a close call for Eaves, whose jaw was broken on Nov.26, 2011 by a slap shot off the stick of Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi -- which also gave Eaves a concussion that sidelined him for the rest of the 2011-12 season.
Taking Eaves' spot on Detroit's third line will be Gustav Nyquist, who is being recalled from the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. Grand Rapids played Tuesday night in Peoria, so Nyquist will have a challenging travel day to get back to Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.
"We wanted to test Nyquist a little bit, so we sent him to Peoria to play the game [Tuesday] night, gave him a six-hour bus ride, let him sleep for a bit and we're going to let him play [against the Wild]," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said, only half kidding. "We're going to see how mentally tough he is. It's all part of the training to be a Red Wing."
A spate of Eaves' teammates haven't been as fortunate this season, with the most recent injury being defenseman Kyle Quincey's fractured cheekbone, which happened in the same way Eaves got hit, in a game against the Edmonton Oilers last week. Quincey is expected to miss 4-6 weeks, and forward Mikael Samuelsson (non-displaced fracture in his index finger) still doesn't know when he'll return despite planning to make the pending four-game trip to the West Coast.
Also indefinitely out with painful back injuries are Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm, who have missed most of the season. Detroit defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), who's missed 27 games, said he feels it's a matter of days before he returns to the active roster.
Here's a look at how the Red Wings and Wild might line up on Wednesday night:
Zach Parise – Mikko Koivu – Charlie Coyle
Pierre-Marc Bouchard – Matt Cullen – Devin Setoguchi
Dany Heatley – Kyle Brodziak – Cal Clutterbuck
Jason Zucker – Zenon Konopka – Torrey Mitchell
Ryan Suter – Jonas Brodin
Justin Falk – Nate Prosser
Jared Spurgeon – Clayton Stoner
Scratched: Brett Clark, Mike Rupp, Tom Gilbert
Injured: Josh Harding (illness)
Valtteri Filppula – Henrik Zetterberg – Damien Brunner
Justin Abdelkader – Pavel Datsyuk – Johan Franzen
Danny Cleary – Joakim Andersson – Patrick Eaves
Drew Miller – Cory Emmerton – Jordin Tootoo
Niklas Kronwall – Jonathan Ericsson
Brian Lashoff – Brendan Smith
Jakub Kindl – Ian White
Scratched: Kent Huskins
Injured: Kyle Quincey (IR, facial fracture), Darren Helm (IR, back), Todd Bertuzzi (IR, back), Mikael Samuelsson (IR, finger), Carlo Colaiacovo (IR, shoulder)