DETROIT – It usually takes something special to astonish Henrik Zetterberg, well, unless the topic is the Red Wings’ Magic Man.
Despite two different injuries this season – a separated shoulder and a sore groin – Pavel Datsyuk has played out of this world. (As if anything less is expected).
Injuries have forced Datsyuk to miss 11 games in the first quarter of the regular season, yet the star center still ranks second on the Red Wings with 11 goals and 19 points in 15 games played.
Thursday he was one of six Red Wings to register multiple points in Detroit’s 5-2 win over Dallas. It was his seventh multi-point game of the season and third in a row. Since returning from the groin injury on Nov. 26, Datsyuk has six goals and eight points in five games.
“We’re happy to have him playing,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “When he was out there he’s such a big part of our team, we need him to play games. When he’s doing that he’s been on fire. Not just production. Overall the way he plays out there, offensively, defensively. Eleven goals in 15 games is pretty impressive.”
Fortunately, the Red Wings haven’t needed to rely exclusive on stars like Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Johan Franzen to do the scoring. Without Datsyuk this season, the Red Wings have compiled a 7-2-2 record, mainly because of secondary scoring from young stars like Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist.
“We can't just rely on Hank and Pav to do it, or Mule every night, even though they're making the plays,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “It's huge to have depth in scoring.”
Still, the Red Wings would prefer to head into games with the 36-year-old Datsyuk, than without him.
“That doesn't hurt. Pav is Pav,” Kronwall said. “I don't know how you explain it, really. When he goes out there feeling good, he's one of the best in the league. And he shows it night after night.”
Everything is working splendidly for the Wings. For the most part, health has been pivotal, and their special teams have been dynamite, led by the league’s hottest power play. Their 24 power-play goals are tied with Pittsburgh for the league lead.
“You score goals and sometimes it’s more dangerous than other times,” coach Mike Babcock said of his team’s power play. “Last night I thought it was dangerous again even when we didn’t score. We’ve got to bear down on our penalty kill, we’ve had a few go in, we have to make sure that doesn’t happen or that gets stopped. And our 5-on-5 play hadn’t been as good the last little bit it was good to see us bounce back and play a little better.”
But the unselfishness of veterans like Datsyuk has rubbed off on the younger players, which makes the Red Wings a very tough team to defend.
“He plays the game both ends of the ice very well. Always wins pucks. He’s been playing unbelievable every time he’s in the lineup so it’s great for us,” Nyquist said. “As a young guy when you see guys like that working that hard, all of us young guys want to become half a player that they are one day. It’s no secret why they’re good and there are no shortcuts you can take to getting there. It’s great for us young guys to see.”
ABBY, MONSTER SKATED:
Left Wing - DET
Goals: 7 | Assists: 8 | Pts: 15
Shots: 54 | +/-: 6
Backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson
and forward Justin Abdelkader
were back on the ice Friday for the first time since suffering shoulder injuries.
Gustavsson, who sustained a dislocated shoulder Nov. 5, worked with goalie coach Jim Bedard before the team’s practice at Joe Louis Arena. Gustavsson remains in injured reserve with no clear date for a return to the lineup.
Abdelkader suffered a slight shoulder separation during an open-ice collision with Vancouver defenseman Luca Sbisa last Sunday.
“I knew I had to get to the red and get the puck in,” Abdelkader said. “I was chipping it in on my backhand. I knew (Sbisa) was coming, it’s almost sometimes better if you just let him crush you and take the hit, because I felt like I stood him up and we both had a big collision there, and something had to give. Unfortunately it was on my end.”
Abdelkader was hesitant to predict when he might return, though he’ll likely miss at least another week.
“I’m not going to say any date specifically, because I don’t know,” said Abdelkader, who has seven goals and eight assists in 24 games. “Obviously I have to have my strength back and have my (range of) motion. I can’t be tentative on the ice. That’s usually when you get hurt. I want to make sure I’m ready to go and fully ready once I hit the ice.”
Q PATROL: Kyle Quincey
Defense - DET
Goals: 1 | Assists: 4 | Pts: 5
Shots: 27 | +/-: E
ended a 40-game, goal scoring drought when he scored in the third period of Thursday’s 5-2 win over Dallas at Joe Louis Arena. The last time the Red Wings’ defenseman scored was March 7, 2014 vs. Devils.
It was also the first time Quincey produced two points in a game in nearly three years – with Colorado on Jan. 21, 2012 – and his first ever in 171 games with the Red Wings.
Quincey had the primary assist on Darren Helm’s first-period goal that gave Detroit a 1-0 lead. Quincey finished with a plus-4 rating.
“Q was awesome last night,” Kronwall said. “He was everywhere, playing strong, really good in our own zone like he is every night, but last night he got some opportunities to jump up in the play and create some chances. Even on, I don't know if it was our first or second goal there when (Stephen Weiss) scored, Q made that play happen when he drove to the net, took two guys with him and opened it up for Weisser back door so he's been playing great for us.”
Goalie - DET
GAA: 2.22 | Sv%: .916
Thursday against the Stars, goalie Jimmy Howard
made 22 saves to record his 164th career victory, moving past Harry Lumley
and into sole possession of third place on the Red Wings’ all-time wins list.
Howard will get his 22nd start of the season when the Red Wings host the New York Rangers on Saturday.
COACHING STREAK: Babcock earned his 499th head-coaching victory Thursday, tying Terry Murray for 19th in NHL history. With three more wins, Babcock will move past hall-of-fame coaches Toe Blake (500) and Pat Burns (501) for 17th all time.
In his 10th season with the Red Wings, Babcock has guided the franchise to a 430-204-96 mark.