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Datsyuk to make Cup finals debut in Game 5

Friday, 06.5.2009 / 5:10 PM ET / News
By Brian Compton  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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Datsyuk to make Cup finals debut in Game 5
DETROIT -- The Red Wings are getting their Hart Trophy finalist back.

He didn't speak with reporters Friday afternoon, but Pavel Datsyuk will be in the lineup Saturday night when the Wings host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit coach Mike Babcock made the announcement during his daily address to reporters.

"He'll play," Babcock said of Datsyuk, who hasn't been in the lineup since taking a shot on the foot in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks on May 19.

Datsyuk tried his best to be in uniform for Thursday's 4-2 loss at Pittsburgh, which evened the best-of-7 series at two games apiece. He dressed for warmups, but it was then determined that he wasn't ready to go.

Apparently, something has changed in the last 18 hours. Considering how well Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby are playing, Datsyuk's return couldn't come at a better time. Not only can Datsyuk provide offense -- he had 97 points during the regular season -- but he's also arguably the best defensive forward in the sport.

How much Datsyuk will play, however, remains to be seen.

"Prior to (Thursday's) game, we were hoping Pav was going to be in, but we weren't planning (for it)," Babcock said. "Now we're hoping Pav's going to be in, and we're planning that he's going to be in. But he's still got to be in.

"Then the second thing is, how does he do when he gets out there? He missed a chunk of time. Is he capable of those situations? Is he playing on the wing or is he playing in the middle? We'll see. I don't know the answer, and I'm being honest with you, just because until I see them play, I won't know."

What the Wings do know is that they have the ability to win without Datsyuk. Despite his injury against the Blackhawks, the Red Wings were still able to dispose of Chicago in five games. They then went on to grab a 2-0 series lead against the Pens before dropping back-to-back games in Pittsburgh.

"We've been playing without him for a few games now," Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "We've been successful without him, but we know if he can play, he adds a lot to our team. We all know that."

While Babcock would love for Datsyuk to be 100 percent on Saturday night, he knows that likely won't be the case. But with the Stanley Cup finals now a best-of-3, it's time for every player on the roster to dig down for that something extra.

"I've said this many times during the playoff run, the greatest thing about this trophy is how hard it is," said Babcock, who is aiming to lead Detroit to back-to-back titles. "When you have injuries, it's harder. Suck it up and find a way to win. Who cares? No one cares except the team who wins in the end.

You get your name on that thing, it's the greatest summer of your life. That's still our plan."

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 153 146 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 53 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 54 10 27 4 37
T. Tatar 53 16 17 0 33
G. Nyquist 54 14 16 0 30
P. Datsyuk 39 8 21 13 29
J. Abdelkader 54 14 13 -3 27
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 40 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 50 7 8 13 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 4 .934 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89