ANAHEIM — Don’t call him unconscious. Michael Eaves knows what that’s like.
In November of 2011 he slid to block a shot by Nashville’s Roman Josi. “Got me in the earhole,” he said.
When he woke up he saw Detroit teammate Nicklas Lindstrom, crouching to see how he was. It wasn’t the face of God but it was a pretty good substitute, “a calming presence,” as Eaves put it, but he still got wheeled out of Joe Louis Arena on a stretcher and didn’t play again for 14 months.
The worst part, aside from the broken jaw and the concussion diagnosis, was the two-month period of sleeplessness. That’s literal. No escape from the migraines and too much time to wonder if he’d ever play hockey again. He did, and now he’s having a dream season, which, of course, requires some sleep.
Eaves scored his 26th and 27th goals Sunday night when the Ducks beat the New York Rangers, 6-3, and seized a two-point lead in the Pacific Division. They are 8-1-1 since March 5. Center Ryan Getzlaf led that line with four assists, and Rickard Rakell provided his usual magic on the other side from Eaves, but this is a prime example of hockey alchemy, right on the on-ramp to the playoffs.
“Getzlaf is a big center who’s good with the puck, Rakell is a dynamic winger, and Eaves is a sneaky type of scorer, a guy who can get to the dirty areas and can finish,” said coach Randy Carlyle. “You’ can put lines together sometimes and they look good on paper but they don’t work. But from a lineup standpoint we’re as comfortable as we’ve been all year.”
Eaves already had a career-high 21 goals in Dallas, before they acquired him Feb. 24/. Dallas was not a playoff aspirant, and Eaves was becoming a free agent and thus wasn’t a priority.
But the Ducks needed somebody with Eaves’ power-play touch. Plus, he was 33 with enough Purple Hearts to handle the playoff mood swings.
This is not dissimilar to what happened in 2003, although it happened later in the…