Jason Brough

Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk acknowledges the crowd after an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers in Detroit Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Datsyuk focused on making playoffs, ‘not looking at next year’

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Pavel Datsyuk can’t — or won’t — say what his plans are for next season.

In the wake of Saturday’s report that the Red Wings star was entertaining a return to Russia, Datsyuk was noncommittal with reporters today.

“I have one more year on contract, we have three games left in season. That is more focus for me now,” Datsyuk said, per MLive.

“I’m not looking at next year.”

The 37-year-old is signed through next season, though — for a $7.5 million cap hit that would remain on the books were he to retire.

Datsyuk’s agent provided a similarly noncommittal comment yesterday.

Detroit has three games remaining in its regular season, with a lengthy playoff streak on the line. The Wings host the Flyers Wednesday, play in Boston Thursday and finish their schedule Saturday at the Rangers. They’re currently one point up on the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division. The B’s also have three games left.

The last time Detroit missed the playoffs was the 1989-90 season.

“Our focus right now are these three games starting on Wednesday,” said captain Henrik Zetterberg. “That’s what Pavel is focused on, that’s what we’re focused on and whatever happens after, we focus on after.”

Goalie nods: Isles go back to Greiss, whose numbers have been slipping

Thomas Greiss
AP
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Thomas Greiss will be back in goal for the New York Islanders tonight at home to Tampa Bay.

Greiss got Saturday’s game off, as it was Jean-Francois Berube between the pipes for the 5-0 loss to Pittsburgh. Berube then missed practiced yesterday. The Isles then announced this morning that Berube was day-to-day with a lower-body injury and that Christopher Gibson had been recalled on emergency loan from AHL Bridgeport.

With Jaroslav Halak out long-term with his own lower-body injury, Greiss is the best bet to be the Isles’ starter when the playoffs begin next week. The 30-year-old has enjoyed an excellent season overall (21-11-4, .924 SV%), but his numbers have been slipping of late (.909 SV% in March).

“Thomas has been in some big games before,” Isles coach Jack Capuano told reporters recently. “I know what he’s capable of doing. Obviously, it’s unfortunate that Jaro got hurt but (Greiss) loves the opportunity that he’s in.”

There’s still a slim chance that the Isles fail to even qualify for the playoffs. They have five games remaining in the regular season, four of them against opponents currently in a playoff spot, the other against Buffalo.

sched

Ben Bishop will be in goal for the Lightning.

Elsewhere…

Mike Smith for the Coyotes in St. Louis. Brian Elliott for the Blues.

Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers in Columbus. Joonas Korpisalo for the Blue Jackets.

Al Montoya for the Panthers in Toronto. Jonathan Bernier for the Maple Leafs.

— No starters have been announced for tonight’s Canucks-Kings game in Vancouver.

Related: Capuano calls out Strome, Nelson and Bailey

Blues announce Allen, Backes out for remainder of regular season with injuries

St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen (34) defends the goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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More injuries for the St. Louis Blues — the club announced today that forward David Backes and goalie Jake Allen will miss the remainder of the regular season with lower-body injuries, and that both will be reevaluated prior to the playoffs.

The news about Allen would seem to ensure that Brian Elliott will be the Blues’ starting goalie for the first game of the playoffs. That is, assuming Elliott can stay healthy the rest of the way — not a given the way things have gone for the Blues this season.

As for Backes, here’s what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had to say:

Backes was one of two players to have played in every game this season for the Blues (Troy Brouwer was the other), though he had an upper-body injury in January during which he played in games but never practiced. Backes is second on the club with 21 goals and fourth with 45 points overall. Backes had a goal and an assist on Sunday night against Colorado and was on the ice when the Blues clinched the game with an empty net goal with just under 3 minutes to play. He had 16:54 of ice time against Colorado and was credited with two blocked shots.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is expected to address the media later today. The team is also dealing with injuries to Robby Fabbri, Jay Bouwmeester and Steve Ott.

Flyers lose MacDonald to upper-body injury

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The Flyers announced today that defenseman Andrew MacDonald will miss Wednesday’s big game in Detroit with an upper-body injury.

MacDonald is considered day-to-day after getting knocked out of Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh on a hit by the Penguins’ Tom Kunhackl.

It’s expected that Evgeny Medvedev will take MacDonald’s spot in the lineup against the Red Wings. Medvedev hasn’t played since March 12, more than three weeks ago.

The Flyers have four games left in the regular season, all in a five-day span — at Detroit Wednesday, home to Toronto Thursday, home to Pittsburgh Saturday, and at the Islanders Sunday.

According to Sports Club Stats, they have a 78.7 percent chance of making the playoffs.

standings

 

Capuano calls out Strome, Nelson and Bailey

New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano plans his team's strategy during a timeout in the last minutes of the third period against the Winnipeg Jets during an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, and Josh Bailey.

Those were the three names that were named today by Islanders coach Jack Capuano.

“We need Strome to be better. We need Brock to be better. We need Bailey to be better. We need guys to be better if we’re going to have any chance at all,” Capuano said, per the Daily News.

And just to make it clear, the coach added, “The guys mentioned need to pick their pick their s—t up and start playing.”

The Isles host Tampa Bay tonight. They were throttled, 5-0, on Saturday by Pittsburgh.

With just four wins in their last 10 and the playoffs starting next week, it’s no wonder Capuano is sounding worried. Only two of those four wins came in regulation, and they were over non-playoff sides Ottawa and Columbus.

New York is also dealing with key injuries to Jaroslav Halak, Mikhail Grabovski and Travis Hamonic, making it even more necessary for others to step up.

“The video doesn’t lie,” said Capuano. “It doesn’t come down to X’s and O’s, it doesn’t come down to systems. It comes down to how hard you want to compete.”