If it wasn't the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field, chances are Patrick Kane
would have sat out the fourth meeting between the Chicago Blackhawks
and Detroit Red Wings
this season with a "lower-body injury."
Since it was the Winter Classic, the Hawks' sophomore sniper suited up in his retro uniform and skated through the pain.
"It was one of those games you can't really pass up to play in," Kane said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience to play in one of these games. I wanted to get out there with all the atmosphere. You feel like you're skating on an open field."
Kane skated for 17:51 relatively ineffective minutes. He had three shots on goal, but did not register a point on any of the Blackhawks four goals.
"I haven't had too many injuries so I've got to kind of learn how to play through the pain and through these kinds of things," Kane said. "It wasn't really a fun thing to deal with, but at the same time I guess you've got to learn. That's why it's hockey. It's a tough game. It was a different challenge for me."
Kane was injured when Wings forward Dan Cleary checked him hard into the half-wall just over seven minutes into Tuesday night's game at Joe Louis Arena. He said his skate got caught in the ice and he fell awkwardly.
He left the game, but returned for the second period and played out the 4-0 loss. Kane got on the Wrigley Field ice for practice Wednesday, but all he did was take a few strides before going off. He said there was no reason to be a hero in practice.
It wouldn't be a surprise if Kane sat out Sunday's game at the United Center against the Calgary Flames.
"I have to fight through those things as time goes on," he said. "You're never going to be completely healthy out there. It was tough for me (Thursday)."
Lidstrom OK - Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was also battling a lower-body injury Thursday, but he played a game-high 24:59. The difference between Lidstrom and Kane is that the Wings' captain said he probably would have played if Thursday were just a normal game.
Lidstrom had already sat out two games after taking a Shea Weber slap shot off his ankle during Friday's game in Nashville.
"The ankle felt OK," Lidstrom said. "We did some adjustments to my skate, to the boot itself. It relieved some pressure on the point where it's been hurting. I would have played on it anyway, even if it would have been an indoor game."
Reality check - The Blackhawks had won nine straight games entering this week. They were riding high and found themselves only four points behind the Red Wings for first place in the Central Division.
Then big brother brought the Hawks down to earth, and the players admitted Tuesday's 4-0 whitewashing and Thursday's 6-4 loss at Wrigley Field gave Chicago's youthful team a reality check.
Chicago is now 0-3-1 against the Wings this season after going 5-3 against them last season.
"Last year we talked about the wins and the way we played against Detroit and how we snuck up on them," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "I don't think we can do that anymore.
"They definitely sent a message a couple of nights ago and they stepped up and played the same pace and the same type of game (Thursday). They're so consistent. They've got four lines of guys that play the right way and they just kept coming."
Despite the Hawks success against Detroit last season, Kane said they are still learning how to play against the talented and experienced Wings.
"They beat the Sharks 6-0 and they beat us 4-0 the other night," Kane said. "We're a young team and we have to learn how to play in those games, but that's why they're the best in the world."
Mason sizzles - There's a new leader in the clubhouse for the Calder Trophy and it's Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason, who wasn't even on the team's NHL roster throughout the month of October.
Mason entered Friday's game at Colorado with three straight shutouts and a League-best .938 save percentage and 1.69 goals against average. His five shutouts also tied injured Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo for the League lead.
"After my first game (a 5-4 win over Edmonton on Nov. 5), I felt that I had the confidence that I could play in this League and it's grown in every game," Mason told reporters after whitewashing the Anaheim Ducks, 2-0, Wednesday night. "The time's gone by real fast ever since I've been here. It's been an interesting two months already. I'm trying not to get too far ahead of myself, but every game I play I'm getting more and more comfortable."
Mason stopped 71 straight shots to blank the Flyers, Kings and Ducks before Friday's game against the Avalanche. He was also brilliant on Dec. 17, stopping 47 of 48 shots as the Blue Jackets stunned the League-leading San Jose Sharks, 2-1, in overtime.
Another patient in St. Louis - You had to know something was up with Blues forward Paul Kariya, who hasn't played since Nov. 5. The hockey world found out Monday when the team announced Kariya would be the latest Blue to go under the knife.
Kariya needs surgery on his left hip, an operation that could sideline him for the rest of the season. Kariya elected for the surgery after consulting with the team doctors.
He will be the sixth Blues player to have surgery this season. Eric Brewer (back), Andy McDonald (leg), Erik Johnson (knee), Chris Mason (appendectomy) and D.J. King (elbow) have already been on the operating table.
Kariya apparently tore muscle fibers near the top of his thigh when he got hit from behind against Anaheim on Nov. 5. He skated with the team last week, but couldn’t go any longer last Friday.
He immediately went for an MRI exam, which revealed additional damage inside the hip.
"He knows the sooner he gets it done, the sooner he's going to be able to play," Blues President John Davidson said. "Whether that's six weeks from now or toward the end of the season or toward the fall, it doesn't matter. Doing it right, rehabbing it properly and getting the right person to do it, that's more important than saying, 'Come on, let's get back in a month.' "
This and that - Jackets forward Craig MacDonald was recalled from Syracuse of the American Hockey League on Saturday. He made his Columbus debut on Wednesday and scored a goal, redirecting Mike Commodore's slap shot past Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere. … Rookie center T.J. Oshie, who missed 24 of 26 games with a high ankle sprain, returned Tuesday against New Jersey and had an assist. Oshie missed 13 games, returned for two, but then had to sit out the next 11 because he wasn't fully healed yet. The scar tissue on his high ankle sprain popped, pushing him back on the shelf. … Steve Sullivan is continuing his comeback from a debilitating back injury. According to The Tennessean, Sullivan practiced Wednesday with a gold jersey on, signifying he could be hit by his teammates. He had been practicing with the no-contact red jersey.
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