Detroit — Jonathan Ericsson has felt ready to play for quite some time.
But doctors and trainers felt it was best to hold off on Ericsson, who injured his ribs Dec. 23 against the New York Islanders and has since gotten healthy.
He finally got back on the ice Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks, playing over 22 minutes in the 5-4 shootout victory.
“I knew it would take some time, I knew it wouldn’t be overnight,” Ericsson said of his recovery, after missing the last 10 games. “I’ve been patient and trying to stay positive. The recovery has been faster than what they thought it would be, so that’s good.”
Ericsson was paired with his usual partner Niklas Kronwall, and each had a plus-1 rating while going against Chicago’s top offensive players.
“Having Big E made a big difference matchup-wise,” coach Mike Babcock said.
As with all of the recently injured players for the Red Wings, the question has been when to clear a player to play, or not.
Several players this season may have returned too quickly and reaggravated injuries.
“I’ve wanted to play for a while but on the other hand, I didn’t want to get back too early and get injured again,” Ericsson said. “I had to listen to the trainers and doctors and they felt I wasn’t ready.”
With Ericsson in the lineup, Jakub Kindl was a healthy scratch.
Pavel Datsyuk (lower body) took part in Wednesday’s morning skate but a return to the lineup remains hazy.
Datsyuk hasn’t played since the Jan. 1 Winter Classic.
One positive is, Datsyuk is skating after taking last week off when he may have sustained a setback in his rehabilitation.
“I can skate now; before I can’t skate,” Datsyuk said. “It’s much better and I’m looking forward to skating tomorrow and we’ll see day by day.”
Datsyuk added he needs some more skating and conditioning before he returns to the lineup.
One timetable Datsyuk did give, though, was regarding the Olympics. He intends to be ready to play in his home country of Russia for the Olympics early in February (Datsyuk is captain of the Russian team).
“For sure, 100 percent,” he said.
One casualty of the realignment is the fact the Red Wings and Blackhawks play only twice this season — once in each other’s arena.
Babcock, though, isn’t quite sure there is still a rivalry from the Red Wings’ perspective.
“I don’t think we’re holding up our end of the bargain,” said Babcock, noting the Red Wings’ record (22-18-10, 54 points). Chicago is 32-8-12 (76 points).
“Rivalries are when two teams really get after one another. I thought we did that last year in the playoffs. But we haven’t been a good enough team this year for this to be a rivalry type of game.
“We’ve had a good run with them but we used to be where they are and now they’re where we were.”
Eaves goes big
Forward Patrick Eaves scored a goal in regulation Wednesday after receiving a soccer-style pass from Justin Abdelakder off Abdelkader’s leg.
“It was an unbelievable play,” Eaves said. “Right on my forehand.
“He lost his stick and made the play with his foot. His soccer skills aren’t great, but they’re better on the ice.”
Eaves also scored a shotoout goal. For a player who was waived, sent down to the minors and returned in mid-December, it was a memorable evening.
“I don’t think about it like that, it was just sweet for our team,” Eaves said. “We battled, we all stuck together. Down 2-0 to the defending champs, as a team it was more important than the individual stuff.”