It’s always a potential danger when a star player like Pavel Datsyuk returns to the lineup — everyone else relaxes and stops doing the things that made the team successful when the star was out.
Datsyuk will be back tonight versus Buffalo, and Detroit coach Mike Babcock has a warning for the rest of his Red Wings.
“We can’t stand around watching him play,” said Babcock, per MLive.com. “We’ve been doing it without him and we’ve got to continue to make sure we’re doing our part.
“We’ve got to guard against saying, ‘Oh, Pav’s going to look after it.’ He isn’t going to look after it; we got to look after it as a group.”
Winners of three straight, the Wings enter tonight’s game with a 91.6 percent chance of making the playoffs for the 23rd straight time, per Sports Club Stats.
But the potential for a letdown goes beyond the return of Datsyuk. The Sabres are the worst team in the NHL, with just two wins in their last 14.
The Sabres also played last night in St. Louis, while the Wings have had a day to rest up after beating Boston on Wednesday.
Oh, and did we mention Buffalo has a ton of injuries?
For Detroit, tonight should be a slam dunk.