Wings notes: Datsyuk hopes to play Thursday
FEB 05, 2014 3:39p ET
DETROIT -- The official decision on whether Pavel Datsyuk plays Thursday in Florida will come after the morning skate.
"I hope," Datsyuk said after Wednesday's practice at City Rink. "Every day it's better and now I skate with the team and it's more fun and more enjoyable and more confidence."
Coach Mike Babcock said Datsyuk would have to make the decision on whether he's ready to play.
"Let's talk about Pav (Thursday), see if he's actually playing or not," Babcock said. "He's gotta be comfortable. Obviously there's a lot on the line for him. The Olympics are in his country and he wants to play."
Not only is Datsyuk supposed to play in the Olympic men's hockey tournament, he's the captain of Team Russia.
Datsyuk knows the pressure that goes along with that role.
"Not only me," Datsyuk said. "It's everybody that's feeling the pressure but I need to be smart and make the right decision."
Datsyuk said he doesn't watch television but has been hearing about the Olympics from friends and family back in Russia.
"Of course I hear from lots of friends and they talk about how exciting (it is), how the Olympics are exciting and good," Datsyuk said. "This is how I know news."
Datsyuk, who has not played since the Winter Classic, was asked about the importance of playing in a game or two before the Olympics.
"It's important but it's frustrated to stay in the locker room and watch the game, it makes me more nervous and can't help the team in the locker room and watch our game," Datsyuk said. "Better to play."
The other consideration is that the Wings currently sit eighth in the Eastern Conference standings with 62 points, but that's something that changes on almost a daily basis.
"Everybody is coming back from injuries and few guys left, and I think there's more confidence in the locker room when team plays whole," Datsyuk said. "Lots of confidence in this locker room now."
While the team has played better since getting some of the injured ones back, there's only one Datsyuk.
“We need Pav, he's one of our best players.”
"We need Pav, he's one of our best players," goaltender Jimmy Howard said. "He's a dynamic player as well. When he's out there he takes a lot of attention off some other players. I think that's going to be good for the other guys."
WEISS MAKES TRIP
Stephen Weiss, who underwent core muscle surgery Dec. 23, is now able to participate in some of practice and will travel with the team to Florida.
"I feel good," Weiss said. "It's a big difference between skating by yourself and getting back in shape and then getting out and getting into the drills with these guys who have been playing games every other night while you've been away. But after a few practices it shouldn't take too long to feel comfortable about with the pace and I'm looking forward to that."
Weiss has skated a bit with the team lately but Wednesday was his first time getting into any drills.
"It's been a little bit of a lonely feeling, kind of being on the outskirts here, doing stuff on your own, so to be able to get in with the guys was a lot of fun today," Weiss said. "It's been a tough six weeks, been a tough couple years, really."
Weiss said he's taking it easy with hard stops and starts for now, but expects to be able to do that soon.
During the Olympic break, Weiss will work on getting up to speed.
"I'll be in town skating with the (Plymouth) Whalers for that first week and a few days into that next week and then I think hopefully get a game or two in with Grand Rapids," Weiss said.
The ideal scenario for Weiss would be to play in the first game after the Olympic break, but no one knows yet if that will happen.
"To be able to come back and help win games and be a big part of the push after the Olympics would be great," Weiss said. "That's what I'm working towards."
The Wings are just 1-1-2 this season against them.
"Talent, size, speed. How's that?" Babcock said. "You're bad long enough, you end up with good players. They've got good players."
Howard said that the Panthers have shown a relentless streak against the Wings.
"They're one of those teams that doesn't stop, no matter what the score is, what the situation is, they keep playing, they got a younger team, they keep skating," Howard said. "That's one of the reasons they've been really successful against us."
Tomas Tatar said it isn't just the Panthers that have made life difficult this season.
"Maybe they're playing their best against us because we are the Red Wings so they want to win, obviously, the game," Tatar said. "It feels to me on the ice like every team against us is playing really well. I'm not sure if it's us or them, but every game is hard in the NHL. It's kind of surprising some teams are destroying Florida and we play them and all of a sudden it's a really tight game. Hopefully it won't be this time."
Defenseman Jakub Kindl did not practice Wednesday.
General manager Ken Holland said Kindl would not play in the two games before the Olympic break and if Datsyuk was ready to go, they might place Kindl on injured reserve.