It's already one of the worst-kept secrets in sports and is starting to border on comical. Multiple reports say that Detroit star center Pavel Datsyuk has a hand or wrist injury that is preventing him from taking faceoffs.
Datsyuk was even termed "questionable" before Game 5 in San Jose on the Versus pre-game broadcast before recording three assists in the Red Wings' impressive come-from-behind 4-3 win to extend the series to Tuesday night's Game 6 at Joe Louis Arena.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock was asked if Datsyuk's wrist was the reason he didn't take any faceoffs in Game 5, and Babcock tried to deflect attention from it by sheepishly stating that Datsyuk wasn't very good at draws before stating the truth: "He's our best faceoff guy."
Then Datsyuk denied he was even injured at all when the Wings returned from San Jose on Monday.
"What wrist?" Datsyuk said, when asked how his wrist was holding up. "I'm ok."
Why no faceoffs in Game 5 then?
"I'm not good at faceoffs," Datsyuk deadpanned.
The subterfuge continued on Tuesday after the Red Wings' morning skate. First up was veteran forward Tomas Holmstrom, who was asked about Datsyuk's health.
"Everybody's fresh, fresh like a daisy," said Holmstrom, who scored the game-winner in game 5 by deflecting a blast by Nicklas Lidstrom. "There's no problems."
Next up was Babcock, who was again asked about Detroit's strategy to deal with Datsyuk being unable to take faceoffs because of the wrist.
"Pav's OK," Babcock said. "There's these rumors going around that he's hurt, be he looks good to me."
He looks good to Holmstrom, too.
"I've played with him a long time," Holmstrom said. "You think you've seen it all, then he takes it up another notch."