DETROIT – Three days after he suffered a deep laceration to his left thigh, Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader was still feeling blessed as he spoke to reporters Wednesday about the injury that occurred late in Sunday’s game in Chicago.
“I was really lucky, doctor said I was really lucky that it didn’t cut one of my tendons,” Abdelkader said. “I (was) fortunate that way, it’s a bad break. But I’m lucky.”
With 7:17 left in the third period, Abdelkader tried to work the puck back to Drew Miller in the offensive zone. However, as Abdelkader dove at the puck, Blackhawks forward Ben Smith was simultaneously falling feet-first, and his left skate blade accidently sliced the Red Wings’ forward above the knee pad.
“I didn’t know how bad I was cut until I looked down at it and I could see it split open,” he said. “Obviously you don’t know the extent of the injury until trainers and doctors look at it.”
Abdelkader, who needed 12 stitches to close the wound, is expected to miss up to the next two weeks.
“I think it’s kind of see how it feels as we move along here,” he said. “It’s slowing been getting better each day. I have to get my strength back and then the (range of) motion back and then kind of go from there.”
The timing of Abdelkader’s injury couldn’t come at a worst time for the Red Wings, who have seen one player sustain a game-missing injury in each of the past six games.
“You’re disappointed at this time of year with the push that we’re trying to make and the injuries that we’ve already sustained, it’s frustrating,” Abdelkader said. “But at the same time I was lucky that I didn’t cut any tendons or it was worse than it was.”
Meanwhile, backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson seems to be the closest of the injured players likely to return to the lineup first.
Gustavsson has missed the past five games with a reoccurring groin injury that has been bothersome all season long.
“Yeah, I feel like I'm close,” he said. “At this point, it's not only about my opinion, it's about the coach and the medical team's opinion, too, so we'll see what they say. But I felt good with the skate today.”
As for center Darren Helm, he skated for the third straight day on Wednesday, after he had a bit of a setback with post-concussion symptoms last weekend.
When healthy, Helm has been vital to the team as a two-way centerman. But injuries continue to plague the 27-year-old Winnipeg native, who has seven goals and 12 points in 29 games this season.
While he has skated the past three days, Helm hasn’t participated in a team practice yet, and Wednesday was an optional skate for the Red Wings who face four games in the next six days.
“We still haven’t had a practice,” Helm said. “I was hoping today would be that test for me to see if I would be able to hold up through a full team practice. Didn’t do that. I got to do some stuff with the goalies and (associate coach) Tom Renney, which is always fun.”
Center Pavel Datsyuk said he had nothing new to report on his knee recovering. Datsyuk, who was told by team doctors to cease all strenuous activity for three weeks, is still seven days away from being re-evaluated by the medical staff.
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