Center - DET
Goals: 24 | Assists: 36 | Pts: 60
Shots: 154 | +/-: 11
– The Red Wings will be a bit thin up the middle tonight when they face-off against the Ottawa Senators in a crucial matchup in the Atlantic Division.
Centers Pavel Datsyuk and Riley Sheahan will miss the game.
It’s the sixth time in the past eight games that Datsyuk, nursing a lower-body injury, has not dressed for the Wings, who are trying to hold off the Senators and Boston Bruins for third place in the division standings.
Sheahan will miss his third straight game with an upper-body injury that he sustained against San Jose last Thursday.
“Just an awkward hit and it didn’t feel too good,” said Sheahan, who has 12 goals and 34 points in 73 games this season.
Wings general manager Ken Holland said that Sheahan is day to day, and like forward Erik Cole (upper-body injury), could rejoin the lineup Thursday against the Bruins. Cole hasn't played since last Tuesday when he was hurt during the first period against Arizona.
Datsyuk missed five straight games this month with the undisclosed injury. He returned last weekend to skate 18-plus minutes in both the 4-0 home win over Tampa Bay and the 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders in the Wings’ final regular-season game at Nassau Coliseum.
He scored a power-play goal and added an assist in the loss to the Islanders, giving Datsyuk 24 goals and 60 points in 59 games this season.
Similarly, Datsyuk returned too early from a groin injury in November. After sitting out two games, he returned to play in a pair of home games. After playing a combined 36 minutes against Chicago and Montreal, the star two-way center missed the next four contests.
In all, the Red Wings are 8-5-3 without their top-line center in the lineup this season.
It’s not an ideal time for the Red Wings to be without any of their top producers, especially Datsyuk, who is a game changer.
Beginning tonight, Detroit begins a stretch of four games in six days against teams in the playoff race. The Wings host Boston on Thursday, visit Minnesota on Saturday and return home to play Washington on Easter Sunday.
Center Stephen Weiss will play in his fourth straight time. He has a goal and an assist in the previous three games while playing in Sheahan’s place.
Veteran forward Daniel Cleary, who has played in just three games since December, will play in the right wing of the Wings’ fourth line. He has two points in 13 games this season.