Blackhawks’ Sean O’Donnell plays in 1,200th regular-season game
By Adam L. Jahns email@example.com January 8, 2012 10:16PM
Steve Montador was guilty of celebrating prematurely because the Hawks had a goal disallowed in the third period Sunday. They missed the ensuing penalty shot, too. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: February 10, 2012 9:01AM
Not many players have done what Blackhawks defenseman Sean O’Donnell did when he took the ice Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings.
O’Donnell, 40, played the 1,200th regular-season game of his career. He became the 90th player in NHL history to reach the milestone and joined Teemu Selanne, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rolston, Roman Hamrlik and Jaromir Jagr as the only active players to do so.
‘‘[It takes] good fortune, good genes . . . lots of stretching and maybe having an awareness,’’ O’Donnell said. ‘‘I think I’m pretty good at knowing when I’m in a vulnerable spot and getting out of it quickly and not putting yourself there in the first place. But a lot of it is luck.’’
O’Donnell, who signed a one-year, $850,000 contract last summer, has rotated in and out of the lineup as the Hawks’ sixth defenseman, but he still is averaging more than 14 minutes of ice time.
‘‘He still finds a way to contribute,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘We love his experience.’’
So O’Donnell has a good idea about what the Hawks need to regain their stride.
‘‘The one constant, it seems like, is not piecing those good defensive games together,’’ he said. ‘‘They’ve been there sporadically. For us to take the next step, it needs to become more of, ‘That’s the way we play,’ than just, ‘We did really well this time.’ ’’
Kruger feels better
Rookie center Marcus Kruger (concussion) hasn’t been cleared for contact, but he participated in the Hawks’ morning skate Sunday. Quenneville said Kruger had a ‘‘not so good’’ day last week, but Kruger said he has improved.
‘‘It was hard to do some off-ice stuff,’’ said Kruger, who is on injured reserve. ‘‘I didn’t feel as good as I wanted to. So, of course, that was frustrating. . . . It was great to be back on the ice.”
Kruger also said he didn’t feel as though he rushed back from his concussion by playing Dec. 26 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
‘‘I try to be patient,’’ said Kruger, who suffered the concussion when Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland checked him in the head Dec. 20. ‘‘I know it’s going to be better and better.’’
Defenseman Steve Montador was back in the lineup after missing the last three games with an upper-body injury. Montador said not playing for a week or so helped.
‘‘There were a few games where things weren’t 100 percent,’’ Montador said. ‘‘Taking a few days like we did was just to ensure that . . . we just sort of nipped it in the bud.’’