Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pavel Datsyuk - ready to play?


PITTSBURGH—If the smile on his face while skating at Wednesday's practice is any indication, expect to see center Pavel Datsyuk back in the Detroit Red Wings lineup for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals. Datsyuk hasn't played in the playoffs since Game 2 of the Western Conference finals because of a foot injury.

Datsyuk said he felt good Wednesday, but coach Mike Babcock wouldn't go so far as to say Datsyuk would be in the lineup tonight.

"What we'll do is go for the optional skate in the morning and see how he responded today and see how he felt," Babcock said. "He's one of the best players in the world. Obviously, we'd like to have him. But it's one of those injuries."

Datsyuk said it would be a game-time decision, but said he's healthy and feels as good as he did before the injury.

"I feel like again 18 years young," he said. "I have lots of fun, exciting wearing skates … I want to play so bad. I don't want to watch this game again."

Babcock confirmed that veteran center Kris Draper(notes) would return to the lineup regardless of Datsyuk's status. Draper has been out with a groin injury. The return of Draper and Datsyuk would be a boost to the Wings' struggling penalty kill. The Red Wings are killing only 71.4 percent of opposing power plays during the playoffs.

But it's not the percentage that bothers Babcock.

"It's when you give them up," he said. "You know, that's huge. Last night, we needed a kill. Without any question, it was a 2—2 game. We needed the kill."

Zetterberg logs serious minutes

Playing in Pittsburgh makes it more difficult to match Henrik Zetterberg(notes) against Sidney Crosby(notes), so Detroit's shutdown center ended up double-shifting and finished Game 3 with an ice time of 24:19.

It was his highest total of the season in a game that didn't go to overtime.

"Yesterday, when I saw the sheet, I didn't expect it to be that much. I thought it was my usual 20 minutes," Zetterberg said.

Babcock wasn't concerned with the extra time wearing Zetterberg down, although he admitted 24 minutes isn't ideal.

"I didn't think we overplayed him," Babcock said.

If Detroit continues to remain so focused on getting the right players on the ice to stop Crosby, Crosby's teammates have to take advantage.

"It does leave the onus on our other guys to play our game and get to the offensive zone to take some pressure off just one guy scoring," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "Better play in the offensive zone by everybody would make those matchups better, even better for us."

Same series, different feeling

The Red Wings are up 2-1, just like they were last year at this time. But Maxime Talbot said the Penguins' confidence level is much higher this time.

The first two games were much closer, Talbot said, and he never felt the same level of domination the Red Wings displayed last season.

"But we know how big this Game 4 is now because we lost it last year and it was hard to come back from a 3-1 deficit," Talbot said. "From the experience of last year, I think we feel it's different, and we're up to the challenge a little bit more."

No comments:

Post a Comment