BROSSARD, Quebec -- Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk may be playing out of position when he makes his season debut Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens.
Datsyuk lined up at left wing at the Red Wings' morning skate at Bell Centre in Montreal, with Henrik Zetterberg at center and Justin Abdelkader on the right side.
Even Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was caught off guard by Datsyuk's position change.
"That was a bit of a surprise for me this morning," Babcock said after confirming Datsyuk would be in the lineup.
Datsyuk played coy when asked if he'll play left wing during the game.
"It's a secret," Datsyuk said. "We try to switch. I need work. I'll play center too."
FANTASY SPIN BLOG
Datsyuk's return should boost Wings
By Eric Goodman - NHL.com Staff Writer
Detroit Red Wings
center Pavel Datsyuk
returns Tuesday from a separated shoulder and his teammates should see their fantasy production increase as a result. READ MORE ›
Datsyuk sustained a separated right shoulder Sept. 22, during the Red Wings' first preseaosn game, and missed the first five games of the regular season.
"I need to feel in the game. At practice it's a different level," Datsyuk said. "We'll see [Tuesday] and I can more explain after the game how it's feeling."
Babcock said he wants to give Datsyuk an opportunity to get going, though he isn't sure how much of an impact his return will have at this point.
"When he's healthy it changes a lot," Babcock said. "We can play him in the middle, we can play him on the wall, we can play him with [Zetterberg], we can play him on his own. There's lots of things we can do with him. I don't know right now because until I see him play [Tuesday] I won't know where he's at."
Zetterberg is confident Datsyuk is ready to make a difference against the Canadiens.
"I think he's been more and more comfortable on the ice," Zetterberg said. "He's skating well, doing a little bit more. So he's ready to go."
Dale Weise will return to the Canadiens lineup on the right side of a line with Lars Eller and Rene Bourque after being a healthy scratch the past two games. Rookie Jiri Sekac will be held out of the lineup for the first time this season.
Despite the Canadiens' hot start, coach Michel Therrien said after the morning skate here that he was not afraid to make a change and bring in Weise when things are going well.
"He grew a lot last year," Therrien said. "He got better and better and he played really well at the end of the year and had great [Stanley Cup] Playoffs for us. And for him to be on top of his game he's got to be aggressive and using his speed and being physical. And this is something I'm looking for from him [Tuesday], and he knows, and we've had discussions, and we have to give him an opportunity.
"I don't want to wait that things aren't going to go well for the team to make some change. I don't think it's healthy for our hockey group and I believe in the team spirit, and [Tuesday] I believe it's a good time to bring him back."
Here are the projected lineups:
Pavel Datsyuk - Henrik Zetterberg - Justin Abdelkader
Tomas Tatar - Riley Sheahan - Gustav Nyquist
Andrej Nestrasil - Darren Helm - Tomas Jurco
Joakim Andersson - Luke Glendening - Drew Miller
Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson
Jakub Kindl - Brendan Smith
Kyle Quincey - Danny DeKeyser
Scratched: Stephen Weiss, Daniel Cleary, Brian Lashoff
Injured: Johan Franzen (lower body)
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Brendan Gallagher
Alex Galchenyuk - Tomas Plekanec - Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
Rene Bourque - Lars Eller - Dale Weise
Brandon Prust - Manny Malhotra - Travis Moen
Alexei Emelin - P.K. Subban
Andrei Markov - Tom Gilbert
Jarred Tinordi - Mike Weaver
Scratched: Nathan Beaulieu, Jiri Sekac, Michael Bournival
Status report: Though the Red Wings' power play has struggled at 2-for-21, Detroit has been perfect in penalty killing while getting off to a 3-1-1 start. The Red Wings have yet to allow a power-play goal while successfully killing 17 attempts. … The Canadiens have an opportunity to have their best record through seven games since 1977-78, when they started the season with six wins and a tie. ... Beaulieu will sit out a third straight game after playing Montreal's first four.
Who's hot: Zetterberg scored with 10 seconds left in overtime Saturday to give the Red Wings a 1-0 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He had four assists against the Maple Leafs one night earlier. … Galchenyuk has three points in his past two games, including a goal and an assist in the Canadiens' 3-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. He has three goals and three assists and has recorded a point in every game this season other than Montreal's 7-1 loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct. 13.