DETROIT — The Red Wings could be without center Pavel Datsyuk for an extended period of time yet again this season.
After participating in pregame warm-ups Friday night, Datsyuk was a last-minute scratch with a sore groin. The Wings won the game 4-2 over the New Jersey Devils despite the absence of Datsyuk who has scored five goals and 10 points in eight games this season.
Injuries are becoming a recurring trend with Datsyuk, this already being the second time he’s been absent from action. He missed the first five games of the regular season with a separated shoulder that he suffered in the preseason in addition to missing 37 games last season.
“I don’t know when Pavel’s coming back, if he’s coming back,” coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t know what’s going on there. I just try to have the best lineup I can.”
The Wings will be without the Magic Man again on Sunday when the Tampa Bay Lightning visit Joe Louis Arena. With Datsyuk missing 43 games over the last two seasons, the Wings have learned to adjust to life without him. In their last 10 games without the superstar, the team is 7-2-1, an impressive mark being that Datsyuk’s presence on the ice is felt by everyone.
“He’s the Magic Man and he shows it out there every night,” defenseman Brendan Smith said. “I’m in awe a lot of the time and I play against him every day in practice. He comes up with something new that nobody ever thought of. It’s a testament, you should see him work out in the gym and how hard he works on the ice and how many more hours he puts in than a lot of other players.”
While the Wings can have success despite the absence of Datsyuk in the lineup, a player like him is not easily replaceable.
“People have to pick it up more when Pavel’s not in, (he is) one of the best in the world,” Smith said. “It opened the door for some guys to step up. You saw a good game out of (Riley) Sheahan and Glenny, they played more minutes down the middle. Good to have those guys step up, when somebody goes down there’s a door open. You get that opportunity.”