Tyler Barnes ruled out after suffering injury Saturday vs. Ohio State
The injury bug continues to rock the Badgers, as senior winger Tyler Barnes has already been ruled out for next weekend's series vs. Michigan after crashing viciously into the boards Saturday vs. Ohio State.
"He won't play this weekend," Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said Monday. "As far as I know, it's kind of a week-to-week deal."
Barnes' injury happened in the waning minutes of Saturday's game when he lost an edge chasing after a loose puck behind the net and tumbled into the end boards in front of the Kohl Center student section.
"I knew we were in trouble when (the Ohio State player) started waving for their trainer to come out," Eaves said. "Then when we saw it on video, yeah, it was those darn boards don't move much, especially in the lower part. You get hit in the glass, there's a little give.
"You couldn't tell on video whether he stepped on a stick or he toe picked, but whatever caused him to lose his balance really threw him in the wall. He wasn't very far away when he lost his balance."
To replace Barnes this weekend, Eaves is looking to give senior winger Sean Little an opportunity.
"By putting him there, he's going to create more space physically because he can go in the corners in a small area where he can get the puck and get to the front of the net. It gives the line a little different [look]."
Eaves also mentioned freshman winger Jedd Soleway as an option.
"Big, strong guy who can shoot and, again, create space for Mark (Zengerle) off the wall. And, because you've got [Morgan Zulinick] over there on the other side, who's a creative, young offensive guy, so you're giving them a little balance by having a more physical presence and giving that line balance."
Nic Kerdiles close to returning from separated shoulder
On a positive note, sophomore center Nic Kerdiles is close to returning to action after separating his shoulder vs. Alaska-Anchorage Jan. 4.
"There is a chance, yes," Eaves said when asked if he could possibly play when Wisconsin travels to Ann Arbor this weekend.
The Badgers were in a similar situation with Little last week, evaluating his progress throughout the week. When it came time to drop the puck last weekend, Little was given a green light on both nights.
If Kerdiles does return to action this weekend, it won't be on a line with Michael Mersch, who he has played with most of the season. In the seven games Kerdiles has missed due to injury and the World Junior Championships, Mersch has developed a chemistry with senior Jefferson Dahl that Eaves isn't ready to break up.
"We'll keep (Dahl and Mersch) together for the time being for sure."
That likely means means Kerdiles will center a line with junior Joeseph LaBate, pushing the Badgers' scoring lines three deep.
Wisconsin already ranks in the top five in the country in scoring offense, averaging 3.50 goals per game. Spreading that scoring out through three lines gives the Badgers another look that could make them even tougher to defend going forward.
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