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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 - 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
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
R. Sheahan 81 14 11 -8 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80