CHICAGO — Pavel Datsyuk’s scoring has been way down during the Detroit Red Wings’ run at another Stanley Cup. And now the star centre and MVP finalist has a sore foot to deal with headed into Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.
Datsyuk missed practice Thursday before the Red Wings departed for Chicago, but his coach and teammates were hoping he’d be able to go against the Blackhawks tonight.
Datsyuk was struck by a puck during Detroit’s 3-2 overtime win in Game 2 on Tuesday night.
“He took a rocket off the foot the other night. We’ll go from there and see what happens,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
“He’s day-to-day, simple. We’ll see how his foot reacts.”
Datsyuk, who had 97 points in the regular season, has scored one goal in 13 playoff games. He had an assist in Game 2, giving him two in the series and six in the postseason. Despite his scoring drought, the Red Wings lead the series 2-0 and are two victories away from returning to the Stanley Cup finals.
Datsyuk is just one of the top Red Wings’ players struggling to score. Marian Hossa, who had 40 goals in the regular season, has managed four in 13 playoffs games.
“As long as you win, it’s all good. But we still find a way to put ourselves on the scoreboard,” Hossa said.
Datsyuk will be evaluated after today’s morning skate and, if he can’t play, the Red Wings were ready to make some adjustments. During practice, Valteri Filppula replaced Datsyuk on a line with Hossa and Tomas Holmstrom.
“We’ll have to pick up for him all over the ice,” Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood said, should Datsyuk have to sit out.
“I expect him to be out there,” Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom said. “But we haven’t relied on him solely to carry the team so far in the playoffs. The depth has been the thing.”
It’s also been some top-notch stops from Osgood, who had 37 saves in Game 2, and the play of Lidstrom defensively that has slowed down Chicago’s fast-paced transition offence.
Chicago’s 20-year-old star Patrick Kane is finding the net elusive, as well. He had no shots on goal in the opener and managed three in Game 2, while going scoreless.
This on the heels of his first career hat trick in the semifinal clincher over Vancouver.
“A guy like Lidstrom puts his stick in great positions all the time and he’s knocking pucks away from you,” Kane said.
“Sometimes stats are a little deflating. I guess it’s one of those things. I felt a lot better (in the second game). I was creating more,” he added. “It would be nice to see one go in the net here and there, but we have a lot of players who can do it.
“So I’m not worried about that.”
Osgood, who already has been a part of three Stanley Cup winners, is 10-3 so far in the playoffs. Detroit’s victory on Tuesday night marked his 100th playoff game with the Red Wings.
Chicago was able to solve Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff and Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo in the first two rounds, but Osgood has been fairly unflappable so far in two games.
“His calmness really installs confidence in us,” teammate Dan Cleary said.
There won’t be too many calm moments Friday night at the United Centre where the crowd starts getting revved up before the puck even drops, cheering loudly during the national anthem.
Detroit is used to hostile environments and Osgood says it’s not always a bad thing.
“We’re not succumbing to or assuming that because we’re playing in the other building that we’re going to be pinned in our own zone for the first 10 minutes or whatever,” he said.
“We feel we can use that energy to get the jump on them for the first 10 minutes or longer.”