Panthers-Red Wings Preview
GAME: Florida Panthers (10-14-6-1) at Detroit Red Wings (18-10-3-1).
TIME: Monday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
If it weren't for Pavel Datsyuk, the injury-plagued Detroit Red Wings
probably would not be leading the Western Conference.
Datsyuk, the NHL scoring leader, and the Red Wings look to continue their
surge when the Florida Panthers visit Joe Louis Arena.
Despite having nine regular players injured, Detroit has gone 7-1-2 over its
last 10, scoring 4.6 goals per game. The Red Wings' 40 points put them at the
top of the West, one point ahead of Central Division rival St. Louis.
Possibly the biggest key to the team's success has been Datsyuk, whose 21
points during the last 10 games has made him the hottest player in the league.
Datsyuk had a pair of goals and two assists in Saturday's 5-1 victory over the
"It's not by accident," teammate Brett Hull said. "He's a wonderful,
The 25-year-old Russian has scored 16 points in the first seven games of
December, including his 17th goal that capped the scoring on Saturday and
pushed him into the league lead with 37 points.
Datsyuk already has shattered his previous career high of 12 goals and is
close to breaking his career best of 51 points, established last season.
"I told him, `Don't get satisfied. Keep working. You could lead this league
in scoring,"' said Hull, who is one point shy of 1,300 for his NHL career.
"I really appreciate (Hull's) support," Datsyuk said. "I'm a young
player, and I need the help."
Curtis Joseph made 18 saves Saturday in his third straight start for the Red
Wings. He was recalled from the minors last week with starter Dominik Hasek
bothered by a groin injury and backup Manny Legace hampered by a sore knee.
Both Legace -- the backup in Saturday's win -- and Hasek are listed as
The Panthers head to Detroit with a 10-game winless streak in this series,
having gone 0-5-5 against the Red Wings since Dec. 1, 1996.
Florida, however, is unbeaten in its last three games (1-0-2) after a 2-2
tie at Nashville on Saturday.
Byron Ritchie and Nathan Horton scored the Panthers' goals 25 seconds apart
in the second period. Goaltender Roberto Luongo made 34 saves as Florida killed
all five of Nashville's power plays.
"We had a really gritty performance," Panthers coach Rick Dudley said.