The Detroit Red Wings have a measure of good news with the return of forward Pavel Datsyuk. He’s missed the first five games of the season with a shoulder injury and will finally be in the lineup Tuesday when his club faces off against the Montreal Canadiens.
The Red Wings haven’t exactly struggled without him, going 3-1-1. But they only have 11 goals in those five contests and his offensive punch is something Detroit is looking forward to having back.
“It’s a big boost for us,” says Henrik Zetterberg. “He’s been skating good in practice and finally he’s ready to go. He’s an important player for us and one of the best players in the league.”
The interesting part here is that Datsyuk has been skating on the wing with Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader. There’s no word on where he’ll start, but he certainly seems open to the possibility of changing things up. Plus, he’s coy.
“It’s a secret,” Datsyuk said. “We try to switch. I need work. I’ll play center too.”
“Any time you’ve missed all of training camp and the start of the season it’s going to take a while to get going, but we’re optimistic he can help us,” said coach Mike Babcock. “I don’t know if it changes (the team) now, but when he’s healthy, it changes a lot.”
Datsyuk initially went down with the injury in Detroit’s first preseason game. Injuries have haunted him as of late, with knee problems limiting him to just 45 games last season. The 36-year-old is still an important piece of the puzzle for the Red Wings, however, and his impact will likely be immediately felt on the scoreboard.
One area that should immediately improve will be the power play. Detroit has been effective 9.5 percent of the time this season thus far, producing just two goals on 21 opportunities. Datsyuk will likely be injected to the top power play line immediately, which gives them a significant boost.
One player that has benefited from Datsyuk’s absence has been Gustav Nyquist. He’s put up four goals in five games on Zetterberg’s line and will continue to see power play time, but the return of Datsyuk means that Nyquist will return to his regular slot on the second line. Once again, that opens up options and should produce more offensive opportunities.