DETROIT -- The last time he was seen in action for the Detroit Red Wings, defenseman Ian White was diving across the crease to make a remarkable save to keep his team ahead by a goal in the third period of a tight game against the Dallas Stars.
That was 11 days and four games ago -- and that save was made with his face. The puck, shot by Jamie Benn from point-blank range with Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard sprawled on the other side of the net, hit White in the cheek.
It gashed his skin and also broke his cheekbone, causing him to miss the Wings' recent four-game road trip to the West coast. He returned to the ice for practice on Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena, skated with the team in the morning skate on Wednesday and plans to play on Wednesday night against the Calgary Flames -- wearing a full plastic facial shield.
"It was a point shot," White said, recalling the play for reporters after Tuesday's practice. "Benn tipped it. The rebound was lying there. Howie was down and out, so they had a tap-in. I tried to block it with anything but my face, but it got me right in the cheek."
It also caused a cut that took 13 stitches to sew up, not to mention a post-game trip to the hospital for further evaluation. And it could've been even worse. White wasn't wearing a visor, but was asked if the experience made him consider wearing one for the rest of his career after he's done with the full shield.
"I'll have to think about it," he said. "I'll wear it for at least the rest of the season. Who knows if it would have even stopped the puck? I dodged a bullet. (I’m) fortunate not to miss that many games."
Howard also felt fortunate to have a teammate willing to go to such lengths to keep a puck out of the net. In fact, the Wings goalie has said he'll definitely pick up a dinner tab for White at some point this season. He would've done it on this past road trip, but White couldn't make the trip.
"I thought I could even play a little bit sooner, (but) I just couldn't fly when you have the sinus and the pressure or something like that," White said. "It doesn't really hurt at all."
White said he will be able to fly with the team on Thursday evening, Thanksgiving night, as Detroit heads East for a one-game trip to play the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins on Black Friday.