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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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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80