Once again, Wisconsin will be without the services of Nic Kerdiles, as the sophomore is expected to miss at least this weekend's series vs. Michigan with a shoulder injury.
Kerdiles suffered the injury Saturday vs. Alaska Anchorage while killing a penalty in the first period. Chasing down a loose puck along the boards, Kerdiles collides with Anchorage forward Matt Bailey.
After returning to his feet, you can see Kerdiles roll his shoulder as if it's bothering him. As the puck rotates to the other side of the ice, Kerdiles dips his shoulder in pain and quickly exits the ice as the puck is cleared out of the zone. He left the bench and headed to the locker room at the next stoppage of play.
While no exact timetable has been given on Kerdiles' injury, there are clues to suggest he'll miss at least the next two series. Wisconsin hosts Michigan this weekend, while Ohio State comes to Madison to close out a 12-game home stand the following weekend.
EDIT: As a reader astutely points out, the Badgers have a bye next week following the Michigan series. That means Kerdiles will have 20 days between the injury and the Friday game Jan. 24 vs. Ohio State. I apologize for the error.
Kerdiles tweeted on Tuesday that he plans to return home to California "for the next couple weeks," and is excited to see his family.
Excited to go home and see my family for a couple weeks and spend time with them. Good luck to the guys this weekend against michigan #cali— Nic Kerdiles (@NicKerdiles) January 8, 2014
To an outsider, the move seems peculiar, especially after Eaves talked about the progress fellow injured player Sean Little is making on his shoulder after using the underwater treadmill and working with the Wisconsin medical staff.
The one thing that comes to mind is the fact Kerdiles' NHL rights are owned by the Anaheim Ducks, whose training facilities are very close to where Kerdiles grew up in Irvine. It wouldn't be entirely shocking if the Ducks, thinking about their long-term investment, wanted to get a closer look at Kerdiles' shoulder themselves.
Given the fact Wisconsin students are on winter break, receiving treatment at home in California where the the Ducks can keep a watchful eye certainly makes some sense.
So, basically, Kerdiles seems very likely to miss the Michigan and Ohio State weekends, if not more.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal's Andy Baggot, Eaves has been trying different line combinations in practice this week. The latest lines include a move with LaBate going back in the middle between Grant Besse and Jedd Soleway, with Mark Zengerle centering Morgan Zulinick and Tyler Barnes and Jefferson Dahl in the middle of Brad Navin and Michael Mersch.
Eaves looks at two new lines: Navin-Dahl-Mersch, Besse-LaBate-Soleway. Zulinick-Zengerle-Barnes intact. Fourth unit still up for grabs.— Andy Baggot (@AndyBaggotWSJ) January 8, 2014
With both Little and Kerdiles projected to miss the series this weekend, either Aidan Cavallini or Corbin McGuire will be in the lineup on the fourth line with Matt Paape and Keegan Meuer. Cavallini received first crack at the job last Friday against Anchorage, but didn't see noticeable ice time.
The defensive pairs have also been switched up this week. After playing the entire first half with the same pairings, Eaves has shuffled the top two groups this week. Jake McCabe is now paired up with Joe Faust, while Kevin Schulze is working with Frankie Simonelli. Eddie Wittchow and Chase Drake remain on the third pairing together.
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