For the third consecutive weekend, it appears Mike Eaves will be without the services of senior center Derek Lee. According to a report from the Wisconsin State Journal, Lee has yet to skate this week.
Eaves had noted after Saturday's win vs St. Cloud State that Lee was expected to test his injured knee on Monday. Apparently, that has yet to happen.
Given that Lee hasn't skated since Feb. 25th, it leads one to believe he won't be available this weekend when the Badgers open the WCHA playoffs at the Kohl Center vs. Minnesota-Duluth.
Lee injured the knee in the series finale vs. Penn State, a game in which the Badgers lost to the first-year Nittany Lions. Since that time, Wisconsin has won three of four against Nebraska Omaha and St. Cloud, putting themselves in a position to earn an at-large NCAA tournament bid with a big performance in the WCHA Playoffs.
The North Vancouver, B.C., native missed two games vs. the Bulldogs in early October after a scooter accident forced him to the sidelines. Lee also missed three games for a concussion suffered against Alaska Anchorage in late January before sitting the past four games due to the knee injury.
Thankfully for the Badgers, sophomore Brendan Woods has stepped up in Lee's absence over the past two weekends. Elevated to a line with sophomore Joseph LaBate and leading scorer Michael Mersch, that unit has yet to miss a beat with Lee out of the lineup.
That said, Lee is still one of the Badgers' most effective playmakers with a team-leading 18 assists, despite missing nine games due to injury. Given Wisconsin's ability to score -- or lack thereof -- Lee would be welcomed back with open arms whenever he's able to get back on the ice.
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