Pavel Datsyuk is a man of few words. This was evident yesterday when he spoke with Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press about how his season is going on the heels of a 2-1 loss to St. Louis.
“Awful,” he said. “I don’t have anything. I need more be productive, need more shoot, need more be dangerous. Need more be dangerous.”
Datsyuk’s harsh self-assessment is not without cause. He’s scored just two goals in 16 games and is minus-3 — an especially troubling number for a guy that’s plus-184 over his career. Datsyuk is also on pace for a mere 51 points, which would be the lowest since his sophomore campaign in 2002-03. (Considering he had 59 points in 56 games last year, this is another troubling number.)
“Need work harder,” he told St. James. “Work harder. It’s only me. Not like near 120, where I wanted to be. I need score, and then more everything be better.”
Datsyuk’s struggles — along with those of ex-linemates Henrik Zetterberg (3G-3A-PTS) and Dan Cleary (3G-3A-5PTS) — have been mitigated by the stellar play of Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula and Jimmy Howard. As such, the Wings sit at 9-6-1 and are right in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race…which is a scary proposition for the Western Conference. Detroit has posted a solid record, despite getting extraordinarily low production from two of its best players.
Assuming Datsyuk and Zetterberg stop being awful (and based on history, it’s safe to assume they will) the Wings are primed for another one of their classic hot streaks where they rip off a series of wins, reminding everyone why they’re an elite NHL team.
Head coach Mike Babcock seems confident of this, anyway.
“This is what I tell you,” he said. “They’re really good people, and they’re really good players, and they’ve been good players for us for a long time. They have a lot of pride, and we have a lot of pride. They want to be better. They want to score.
“But this is what I know: If you think about scoring, you don’t score. If you do things good, good things happen. So work hard, be good defensively, go to the net — they’ll go your way.”
Tonight would be a good night for things to go Detroit’s way. The Wings will face the Sharks in San Jose — the last time they played at HP Pavilion, the Wings suffered a gut-wrenching loss in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinal.