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Datsyuk sits out Russia's first practice

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings

Pavel Datsyuk missed Russia's first team practice in Sochi with an apparent lower-body injury that forced him to miss 14 games with the Red Wings. (Photo by Getty Images)

SOCHI - Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk did not practice with his Russian teammates Monday, but coach Zinetula Bilyaletinov said he is hopeful Russia's captain will be ready to go by Thursday, when the host country opens the 2014 Sochi Olympics against Slovakia (7:30 a.m. EST, MSNBC, CBC).

"I don't think it's a serious problem, dangerous," Bilyaletinov said through an interpreter after practice Monday. "I think he's going to be OK."

Datsyuk missed 14 straight games with a lower-body injury before returning last week to play Detroit's final two games before the Olympic break. However, he played fewer than 15 minutes in both games.

Alexander Svitov, who plays for Kazan Ak-Bars in the Kontinental Hockey League, was skating in Datsyuk's spot during practice between former New Jersey Devils left wing Ilya Kovalchuk and former Nashville Predators right wing Alexander Radulov.

"I think he'll be good before the first game," Kovalchuk said of Datsyuk. "You know they just came in a couple hours ago so some of their equipment is not here yet. So it's all those little details. I think (Tuesday) everybody's going to skate."

Russia's top line featured Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin in the middle with Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin on his left side and Carolina Hurricanes forward Alexander Semin on his right.

Ovechkin obviously is familiar with Semin, having played with him for six seasons in Washington.

"Yeah I know him right away," Ovechkin said. "As soon as I get the puck on the left side I know where he's going to be. I'm sure it's going to be easy to find out chemistry with Geno [Malkin]. We just have to play for his style. He likes to control the puck, control the game. We're going to have to do some different things with him."

Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky said it's still unknown who Russia's starting goalie will be Thursday; Bilyaletinov's choices include Bobrovsky and Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov.

"It's too early now," Bobrovsky said. "We have to adapt to the time (change), to the ice. That's most important for us."

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