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Wings happy for Datsyuk's return

Russian superstar took 17 shifts in first game back since New Year's Day

Friday, 02.7.2014 / 4:36 PM ET / News
By Andrea Nelson  - Editorial Assistant | DetroitRedWings.com
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Wings happy for Datsyuk\'s return

Pavel Datsyuk
Center  - DET
Goals: 15 | Assists: 17 | Pts: 32
Shots: 108 | +/-: -3
It was a welcoming sight for everyone to see No. 13 step on the ice Thursday night.

“It was great to have him on board again, just to have him in games,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said of Pavel Datsyuk’s return to the lineup. “I thought he played real well his first game and is just going to get better.”

Datsyuk missed 14 games with a leg injury and watched his team compile a 7-5-2 record without him. But as excited as he was to return to the Wings’ lineup, the speed of the game took Datsyuk some getting used to after missing more than a month of hockey.

“Looks like everybody fast, ice is so small, goalie so big, net so small,” Datsyuk said. “I hope everybody slow down and be careful with my age.”

Darren Helm centered a line with Datsyuk and Daniel Alfredsson on the wings against Florida as the veteran center continues to play his way into shape. But no matter which position he plays, Datsyuk is just happy to be back on the ice.

“It’s first game I played in one month, it’s a little easier to play on the wing,” he said. “But I’m hoping I play tomorrow at center.

“It’s much better to be on the ice, not much nervous, than being off ice and watch game.”

The Red Wings will play their final game before the Olympic break when they face off in Florida against the Tampa Bay Lightning in an Atlantic Division clash.

During Datsyuk's absence, many other Wings have filled Detroit’s scoring void, most notably Gustav Nyquist. The forward has nine goals in as many games, equaling his total from his first 63 NHL games.

But Nyquist knows his success doesn’t come without help from linemates Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader. In the past four games alone, the trio has combined for six goals.

“It’s fun to play with those guys for sure,” Nyquist said. “We all know what our jobs are on the line. I think (Abdelkader) doesn’t get enough credit for what he does for us. He’s a big body, first guy on the forecheck, wins a lot of loose pucks, always in front of the net screening the goalie. Z obviously does his thing and makes plays. I just try to find an open spot.”

He and Abdelkader have been finding plenty of them lately. Complimenting Nyquist’s consistent offensive production, Abdelkader has recorded three goals and one assist over the past three games.

“I think both of them keeps me a little younger,” Zetterberg said. “It is fun to play with two speedsters like that.

“It is fun to play with them because they do the right things, they’re in the right spots and they put the puck away when they get a chance. It’s been a fun stretch, hopefully we can continue with one more before the break.”

The Wings are 6-2-2 in their past 10 games and have won three of their past four to climb into the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 64 points. With Tampa Bay only four points ahead of Detroit in the division, the two points that are up for grabs Saturday night between the two clubs are critical.

“When we play the right way and we have all our pieces together we’re a really good team,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “What other people think and feel about us doesn’t concern us so much; we know what we have in here, it’s a matter of going out and doing it every night. As of late we’ve been doing a lot of good things.

“We believe in each other, we believe in the structure we have. When we do it right we’re a really good team. I think we’ve shown that at times, it’s a matter of doing it night after night.”

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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