There are two things that seem to define today: an unusual amount of afternoon games and a slew of returning stars.
Add Pavel Datsyuk to that list, as he’s back in action for the Detroit Red Wings as they face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Datsyuk had been sidelined since March 15 with a lower-body injury.
Things have been shaky for the Red Wings lately (especially in net), so getting a two-way star like Datsyuk to return is a big deal. He’s been his usual dominant self when healthy this season, managing 23 goals and 58 points in 57 games played.
March is shaping up to be pretty lousy for Detroit.
The Red Wings, 4-7-1 this month, have now lost the services of yet another forward as Riley Sheahan has been ruled out for “a bit” with an upper-body injury, per head coach Mike Babcock.
Detroit was already without Erik Cole and Pavel Datsyuk — though the latter could return to the lineup this weekend — so the Sheahan loss really compounds things. Prior to getting hurt, the 23-year-old had 12 goals and 34 points in 73 games and was playing quite a bit, averaging 15:38 TOI per night.
To be fair to Detroit, there’s not an awful lot to play for at the moment as the club is pretty much locked into the No. 3 spot in the Atlantic. Catching Montreal or Tampa Bay for one of top two spots is a tall order, and it’s unlikely any of Ottawa, Boston or Florida will push the Red Wings for third.
Still, the month of March has to be somewhat concerning, given no team wants to go into the postseason slumping (and there’s also the issue of goalie Jimmy Howard, who’s been inconsistent.)
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Will the top pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft be dealt? Probably not, but it’s happened before. Here’s a look back at previous trades that involved the first overall selection. (Grantland)
Meanwhile a Buffalo restaurant has “The Tank” drinks named after Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. (QMI Agency)
Here are the highlights from Chicago’s 4-1 loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday:
The Women’s World Championship is set to begin on Saturday. Here’s a look at the Team USA squad aiming to defend its gold from 2013 (there wasn’t a World Championship in 2014 due to the Olympics). (Hockey Wilderness)
Here’s a bit of an oddity: The 2014-15 Vancouver Canucks might have set the NHL record for the most empty-net goals in a single season. (Vancouver Sun)
The struggling Detroit Red Wings will be without Erik Cole tonight. Niklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk might play though. (MLive.com)
Although the Los Angeles Kings don’t currently occupy a playoff spot, confidence isn’t something they lack. (The Globe and Mail)