PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was elated to finally see the second half of the Euro-twins back in the fold Tuesday morning at Compuware Arena.
Pavel Datsyuk arrived in Detroit on Monday after he participated in the KHL’s All-Star weekend in Chelyabinsk, Russia.
“It's good to have him here,” said Babcock, who also said that the Russian star will not play in Tuesday night’s intra-squad scrimmage at the 3,500-seat arena in suburban Detroit.
It appears that Datsyuk is already in midseason form, though. He returned to Russia in September, where he waited out the NHL lockout, and produced 11 goals and 25 assists in 31 games with CSKA Moscow.
“We'll give him a day off today and a day off tomorrow,” Babcock said. “Then he should be back on body clock-wise and ready to go here.”
Babcock has indicated that he plans to reunite the Euro-twins – Datsyuk and newly minted captain Henrik Zetterberg – when the season opens in St. Louis on Saturday. The star forwards will be joined on the first line by Swiss import Damien Brunner.
Valtteri Filppula, who centered Zetterberg’s line throughout most of the 2011-12 season, will now center a line with Johan Franzen and Mikael Samuelsson.
“If we can have Fil be what he was last year and play in the middle, him and Mule be a tandem and Pav and Z be a tandem, I think we're a really good hockey team,” Babcock said. “We just didn't feel like last year was good for us. Last year I put them together at the start but between them and (Daniel Cleary) they were never going at the start, so we had to change and we never went back.”
As for guys like Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Brunner, who all spent the lockout playing in Europe, Babcock feels the Wings will have an early advantage once the season begins. But he also credited others who stayed in metro Detroit for their dedication to working out during the lockout.
“Obviously, it's great that Fil and Pav and Z were all playing,” Babcock said. “I think Bert looks great, Mule looks great. They look like they've done some serious training. Kronwall looks great. If you've done enough work there's no issue. If you haven't, we're all going to know.”
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