Patrick Eaves was injured during a practice drill late in the exhibition season. (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
Detroit -- It'll get crowded among the ranks of the Red Wings forwards here pretty soon.
Patrick Eaves, recovering from a sprained knee and ankle, continues to skate daily and is getting closer to a return to playing.
Eaves is eligible to come off the long-term injured list Oct. 26 (minimum of 10 games, 24 days) and he's shooting for that day to return.
"I'll be ready when I have to come off injured reserve, for sure," said Eaves, who participated in Thursday's morning skate. "I feel good. It's getting better every day. It's fun to be back out there with the guys."
Eaves was injured during a practice drill late in the exhibition season.
During a net-front drill, Eaves found himself pinned under two defensemen behind him who were battling in front of the goalie.
Eaves got his leg trapped and rolled under another player's leg and couldn't free himself, similar to the way an offensive lineman in football might be injured.
"Pretty much the same thing," Eaves said. "I was just standing in front of the net to tip a puck and two guys were battling behind me. One guy landed on my leg. I didn't even see him, I just felt him when my leg was pinned behind him. I couldn't get him off me.
"I felt it (the sprain) right away. It was bad luck there."
Eaves said some discomfort still exists but he's confident he'll be 100 percent healthy in the next two weeks.
With Jordin Tootoo (bruised shoulder) cleared to play and Darren Helm (back) showing progress but not yet cleared to play, the Red Wings will soon confront the issue of having too many forwards.
Counting Eaves and Tootoo, that'll give the Red Wings 15 forwards (Helm remains a question mark for now) -- one over what the Red Wings would like to keep.
The Red Wings will host their seventh annual Breast Cancer Awareness Night Saturday when they play the Philadelphia Flyers.
Goalie Jimmy Howard will wear a specially-designed pink mask and his blocker and glove will be accented in pink to recognize breast cancer awareness month.
Howard also has ordered pink and white pads, but doubts he'll be able to break them in enough in time for Saturday's game.
"It's just my way to try and help out," Howard said. "There's been women I've known that have been (affected by the cancer) and it means a lot to do something like this."
There will be various prizes and raffles to benefit the cause throughout the game.
Mikael Samuelsson returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch Saturday in Boston. Tomas Tatar, who played in Samuelsson's spot against the Bruins, was a healthy scratch Thursday.
… Goalie Jonas Gustavsson (groin) has felt significantly better the last two days during practice and feels he's close to making his season debut on the active roster.
"I've been feeling great the last two days on the ice, haven't felt any soreness or anything like that," Gustavsson said. "It's just a matter of maybe a couple of days, a couple more practices in, and I should be good to go."