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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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  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 54 40 10 4 178 124 84
2 FLA 56 32 18 6 153 132 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 BOS 55 30 19 6 163 150 66
5 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
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10 CAR 56 25 21 10 137 146 60
11 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 57 25 26 6 159 177 56
14 CBJ 57 23 28 6 144 175 52
15 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
16 TOR 54 20 25 9 127 151 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 54 18 20 25 38
H. Zetterberg 55 10 28 5 38
T. Tatar 54 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 55 14 16 -1 30
P. Datsyuk 40 9 21 14 30
J. Abdelkader 55 14 15 -2 29
M. Green 47 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 41 5 11 6 16
D. DeKeyser 51 7 8 12 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 5 .933 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89