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Hart candidate Datsyuk may play in Game 4

Wednesday, 06.3.2009 / 4:19 PM ET / News
By Christy Hammond  - Community Relations Manager
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Hart candidate Datsyuk may play in Game 4
PITTSBURGH -- Hart finalist Pavel Datsyuk practiced with the team Wednesday for the first time since he suffered an injury in Game 2 during the Western Conference Finals. The Russian forward had previously skated and really noticed an improvement by Tuesday morning, but still wasn’t ready to play in Game 3.

Datsyuk’s participation in practice does not guarantee that he will play Thursday night, but it’s certainly an encouraging sign for his team.

“What we'll do is we'll go for the optional skate in the morning and see how he responded today and see how he felt,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

Datsyuk was all smiles at Wednesday’s afternoon practice, centering a line with Valtteri Filppula and Marian Hossa during drills.

“He looked good out there today,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “Today was the best so far he looked out there and like I said he had a big smile on his face all practice so that was good to see.”

His return would not only boost the team offensively, but would be a welcome relief for Zetterberg on the defensive end. Hank logged a whopping 24:19 minutes of ice time in Tuesday’s loss as Babcock tried to get Zetterberg out against Sidney Crosby as much as possible, resulting in some double shifts for the forward. Datsyuk’s presence in the lineup would allow Babcock to pair up Datsyuk’s line against Evgeni Malkin’s line.

“He’s going to be a big boost for us if he comes back,” Zetterberg said. “Pav is really good on both ends of the ice and he plays a lot of minutes so he’ll help us all including me.”

When asked if he would play as a winger rather than a center due to his injury, Datsyuk replied by saying, “I think at any center, defenseman, I want to play so bad. I don't want to watch this game again.”

His teammates are just relieved to know that their star is close to returning to the lineup.

“To me we've played long enough without them,” netminder Chris Osgood said. “We've played five games in eight days without Pav, and to me, that's long enough. We've made it this far, but we don't want to take any more chances.”

OTHER ROSTER UPDATES: Center Kris Draper will return to the lineup in Game 4, but Babcock has yet to decide which player Draper will replace. At practice Draper centered a line with Ville Leino and Kirk Maltby, indicating that Justin Abdelkader would be pulled from the lineup.

The veteran forward led Detroit during the regular season with a 60.3 face-off win percentage so his poise in the face-off circle will certainly help the Wings.

 “He wins a lot of face-offs for us, is out there killing penalties,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “He would help us if he’s able to go.”

Tomas Holmstrom and Brian Rafalski missed practice on Wednesday, but they are both available for tomorrow’s game. Babcock told reporters that at this point in the playoffs, every practice is optional.

THIRD PERIOD SURPRISE: While the Wings have scored more goals in the second period than any other frame this postseason, the third period has been Detroit’s most dominant as the team has outscored its opponents 17-6 in the final stanza during the first three rounds.

The Stanley Cup finals has been a different story for the Red Wings as Pittsburgh outshot the Wings a combined 33-14 in the first three games. Osgood weathered the storm in Games 1 and 2, but was unable to hold the Penguins off in the third period of Game 3 when Pittsburgh scored twice including an empty-netter. Detroit looks to return to its usual dominant postseason form in the third period on Thursday.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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