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Side-effects sidelines Holmstrom

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Tomas Holmstrom, who will miss Tuesday's game in Calgary with knee soreness, is five games shy of playing in career game No. 1,000. (Photo by Getty Images)
CALGARY, Alberta – While Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard were enjoying their time at the All-Star game festivities, their Red Wings’ teammates did a variety of things with their five-day sabbatical, from Brad Stuart spending time with his family back home in San Jose to Nicklas Lidstrom relaxing – albeit while recovering from the flu – somewhere warm.

Meanwhile, forward Tomas Holmstrom vacationed in northern Michigan, but not before he took care of a medical matter. Unfortunately, the injections that he received in both knees last Thursday – meant to get him through the rest of the season – will keep him off of the ice Tuesday night when the Wings face the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

With 13 forwards up on the roster, there was no need for the Wings to recall a player from Grand Rapids to replace Holmstrom in the lineup. Instead, rookie forward Jan Mursak will play tonight, making just his third appearance this season.

Last Thursday, Holmstrom received an injection in each knee made from a natural substance that lubricate and cushion knee joints. The medicine should provide up to six months of osteoarthritis pain relief, but a side-effect has him sidelined.

“It takes a while to settle in,” said Holmstrom, referring to the injected medication. “I got this bad reaction, my knee blows up. Yesterday I couldn't skate and today I could skate.”

Despite his long history of having bad knees, Holmstrom has been an absolute workhorse for the Wings this season, solidifying the club’s fourth line while scoring eight goals with 10 assists in 43 games. He missed five games with a groin injury that he suffered at Nashville on Dec. 27.

Other than that, Holmstrom has logged more than 12-minutes of ice-time per game, including 3:10 of power play ice-time, which is just second on the team to Nicklas Lidstrom.

Holmstrom is also just five games away from perhaps becoming known as the poster boy for playing in 1,000 of the toughest career games in league history. After all, there aren’t many players who have lasted as long in this league and absorbed as much physical abuse that he has taken over the course of his career as a net-front presence.

On three separate occasions, Holmstrom has had to combat the physical toll through an injected painkiller called Synvisc-One. He had the injections prior to training camp last September, but the side-effects are something the Wings’ forward has gotten used to.

“I've had that reaction last three times, it just blows up on me. But it settles down after 5-6 days,” he said. “I started feeling pain in my knee and I know it's going to get worse and worse, I need to shoot it in.”

Holmstrom said that the knees began bothering him a few weeks ago, and that the All-Star break provided the only window of opportunity to undergo the procedure.

And while it was nice to get away with the family in beautiful northern Michigan for a few days, dealing with the agonizing pain was miserable.

“Couldn't do much,” Holmstrom said. “Did the injections Thursday, it blows up on me Thursday night, Friday is bad, Saturday started turning around a bit.”
Homstrom hopes the side-effects are gone by Thursday, in time for him to play in career game No. 996 when the Wings play at Vancouver.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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