Pasha’s back: Datsyuk returns from 14-game absence tonight


The Red Wings and Russia’s Olympic team are getting a big return tonight in Florida, as Pavel Datsyuk will play for the first time since the 2014 Winter Classic.

Datsyuk, who’s missed the last 14 games with a knee injury, will be a huge boost to a Detroit team that’s played reasonably well of late, winning four of its last seven while collecting 10 of 14 points. It’s also a great sign for Russia, as Datsyuk — who’ll captain the club in Sochi — gets tonight’s game against the Panthers and Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay under his belt prior to departing for the Winter Games this weekend.

Datsyuk’s had a tough season health-wise, missing seven games earlier in the year with a concussion. But when healthy he’s been his usual dynamic self, scoring 15 goals and 32 points in 35 games.

Earlier today, Datsyuk practiced on a line with Darren Helm and Daniel Alfredsson. That trio is expected to stick together as the Wings look to beat Florida for just the second time this season (this will be the fifth time the two have played.)