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Datsyuk focused on present

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Toronto's Nazem Kadri was suspended four games Monday for this cross-check on Detroit's Luke Glendening in Saturday's game. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT -- Pavel Datsyuk wouldn't say that he's definitely going to be in Russia next season or that he's definitely going to be in Detroit.

The only definite thing is the here and now, which means working to get into the playoffs with just three games left in the regular season.

"I have one more year on contract, we have three games left in this year," Datsyuk said after skating in the team's optional practice Monday. "That is more focus for me now."

That point was also reiterated by Datsyuk's agent, Daniel Milstein, after Elliotte Friedman's report on Hockey Night in Canada that Datsyuk may return to Russia for good after this season.

Milstein told via email: "Pavel is concentrating on helping his team to make the playoffs and winning another Stanley Cup for the Detroit Red Wings. Pavel also has one more year left on his NHL contract. We will sit down with Ken Holland at the conclusion of the season for our annual year end meeting."

After Saturday night's game in Toronto, Wings general manager Ken Holland said that he hears lots of rumors but doesn't feel the need to worry about this particular one right now.

"We have a game against Philly, biggest game of the year," Holland said. "For me to be going and meeting players about next year … it’s about this year. Worry about next year when our season is over."

Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg is one of those closest to Datsyuk and he said they haven't discussed the matter.

"No, not really," Zetterberg said. "Our focus right now are these three games starting on Wednesday. That’s what Pavel is focused on, that’s what we’re focused on and whatever happens after we focus on after."

Wings coach Jeff Blashill agreed that the Philadelphia game is the only concern right now.

"Our focus right now is on winning a hockey game Wednesday so to be honest with you, I didn't pay much attention to (the report)," Blashill said. "We're solely focused on trying to win this game on Wednesday, just like we were last Saturday. Anything with future with players, we'll sit down at the end of the year and talk to those players and see what that brings."

Despite missing the start of the season due to offseason ankle surgery, Datsyuk's assist Saturday moved him into a tie with Zetterberg for most points on the team with 48.

But Datsyuk is not satisfied.

"I’m not happy a little bit with myself, I have to play better, I have to more help my team." Datsyuk said.

Datsyuk has one year remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $7.5 million.

Friedman indicated that Datsyuk's reason for wanting to return home had to do with family considerations, which Datsyuk prefers to keep private.

"Family is my family," Datsyuk said. "I just want to be quiet with my family. I don’t want to share information about my family with anybody."

Asked if he has a time frame to make his decision, Datsyuk was noncommittal.

"Of course I need more time, but now it’s very important next two games, Philadelphia and Boston, I don’t want to think about anything but those next two games," Datsyuk said. "These are most important for me right now."

Whatever Datsyuk decides, Luke Glendening says he has enjoyed playing with Datsyuk the last few years.

"I don't know how much truth there is to that or whatever," Glendening said. "At this point of the year, we don't really have time to dwell on it. But he's been the ultimate competitor his whole career here. I've enjoyed being able to sit near him, watch him, just hear what he has to say about the game, pick his brain a little bit. Obviously we hope he's around longer but I know that he's all in for right now and that's what we need."

WINGS GET SOME HELP: After defeating the Minnesota Wild Friday night and the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night, the Wings were able to kick back and watch as other teams offered some assistance.

Former Central Division rival Chicago beat the Boston Bruins, 6-4, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 6-2.

That kept the Wings in third in the Atlantic Division with 91 points. The Bruins have 90 points and are just outside the two wild card spots.

The Flyers currently hold the second wild-card position with 91 points.

Glendening didn't watch Sunday's games but he did pay attention to the outcomes and the ramifications.

"I think the most important thing is it kind of put the ball back in our court, gave us an opportunity to control our own destiny," Glendening said. "Before, we were counting on other teams to do, or hoping that they would do something. Now we have no one to blame but ourselves."

The Wings host the Flyers Wednesday and then travel to Boston to play the Bruins Thursday.

"I'd say two of the biggest opportunities is the way I'd word it," Blashill said. "But we've known that for a while, that it looks like that's the case. That's one of the reasons that we felt like we controlled our own destiny, even last week after the Montreal game, because we do have opportunities to play those teams and they could say the same so it should make for a great, great opportunity for all of us."

Wednesday night's Rivalry Night on NBC Sports Network should be a good one.

"The league, when they made the schedule, they were probably hoping these would be some big games and it will be," Zetterberg said. "Rivalry Wednesday, probably the first one that’s actually a big rivalry. These games are the fun games and you want to play these games. I think a lot of guys here are real excited. We have two of them here, Wednesday and Thursday, but obviously it starts Wednesday."

Goaltender Jimmy Howard, who won both games over the weekend, is looking forward to the challenge.

"This is as about as big as we’ve had in a little while in the regular season," Howard said. "It’s going to be fun. The atmosphere is going to be great. It’s going to be a hell of a game."

KADRI SUSPENDED FOR HIT ON GLENDENING: At 7:23 of the second period Saturday night, Toronto forward Nazem Kadri hit Glendening in front of the Maple Leafs net.

Kadri was called for cross-checking and Glendening had to leave the game briefly but was able to return.

On Monday, the Department of Player Safety suspended Kadri for four games, which is the rest of the Maple Leafs' season.

"I want to frustrate players," said Glendening, who hadn't heard the result of Kadri's hearing with the Department of Player Safety. "I don't ever want to be a cheap player or anything like that. I hope that's not how I'm viewed and that someone feels that they need to do that to me to send a message. It's part of the game, I know that. Fortunately, I wasn't injured and it's all good."

The Department of Player Safety's explanatory video said: "Ignoring the puck entirely, Kadri raises his stick and uses his momentum to drive it directly into the head of Glendening. This is cross-checking. In this case, Kadri is not using his stick to establish position or in an attempt to prevent the scoring chance. This is not a hockey play. This is a player intentionally striking an opponent with his stick in retaliation for an earlier action on the same shift."

Of course, that means Kadri will not be available for the Maple Leafs' game against Philadelphia on Thursday.

FLYERS MISSING DEFENSEMAN: The Flyers announced Monday that defenseman Andrew MacDonald will not play Wednesday in Detroit because of an upper-body injury.

MacDonald was checked into the boards by Pittsburgh's Tom Kunhackl midway through the third period of Sunday's game.

Veteran Evgeny Medvedev is expected to take MacDonald's place in the lineup.

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