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Datsyuk's hopeful for Thursday return

Russian center will make final determination at morning skate in Florida

Wednesday, 02.5.2014 / 2:22 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Datsyuk\'s hopeful for Thursday return
Pavel Datsyuk hopes to return to the Red Wings' lineup Thursday in Florida. He hasn't played since the outdoor Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT Pavel Datsyuk said Wednesday he’s fairly confident that he’ll be in the Red Wings’ lineup when they face off against the Panthers Thursday at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

Datsyuk, who has missed the last 14 games with some sort of leg injury, will make a decision on whether he plays or not following the Wings’ morning skate Thursday.

“Yeah, better every day it’s better and now I skate with the team and it’s more fun and more enjoyable and more confidence,” said Datsyuk, who is fourth in team scoring with 15 goals and 32 points in 35 games this season.

Following Wednesday’s practice at Detroit’s City Sports Arena, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said the ultimate decision on Datsyuk’s availability will be made by the Russian superstar.

If Datsyuk is cleared to play, the Wings will not have to make room on the roster for him, as it was announced Wednesday that defenseman Jakub Kindl will not play Thursday or Saturday in Tampa Bay.

Kindl has played the last three games but suffered a lower body injury in Monday’s 2-0 win over Vancouver. He has averaged little over 18-minutes of ice time this season but was held to 11:16 against the Canucks.

With four days left before Olympian hockey players – including 10 Red Wings players and two team officials – leave for the Sochi Olympics in Russia, the importance of those two upcoming road games aren’t overlooked by the players, especially Datsyuk, who was getting fed up from watching instead of playing.

“Yeah, it’s important but it’s frustrating to stay in the locker room and watch the game, it makes me more nervous,” said Datsyuk, who hasn’t played since the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. “Can’t help the team in the locker room and watch our game. Better to play.”

With Datsyuk on the verge of coming back, the Red Wings’ roster is the closest to being whole again for the first time in a long while. Center Stephen Weiss (sports hernia surgery) and forward Johan Franzen (concussion) remain sidelined.

“Everybody is coming back from injuries and few guys left,” Datsyuk said. “I think there’s more confidence in the locker room when team plays whole. Lot’s of confidence in this locker room now.”

With 62 points, the Red Wings currently hold the second wild-card spot, just ahead of Philadelphia (62) and Ottawa (61) in the Eastern Conference standings.

Without Datsyuk in the lineup, the Red Wings power play has struggled, going 7-for-36 in the last 14 games.

“We need Pav, he’s one of our best players,” general manager Ken Holland said. “He’s a dynamic player as well. When he’s out there he takes a lot of attention off some other players. I think that’s going to be good for the other guys.

“We need to get healthy and stay above the (playoff) line, just continue to battle and find a way to get points.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Rooose

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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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