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Datsyuk to miss Florida trip with lower-body 'ache'

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Red Wings will make the quick trip to Florida without Pavel Datsyuk.

Coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday Datsyuk will stay in Detroit as the Red Wings visit Florida (Thursday) and Tampa Bay (Friday).

Datsyuk (lower body) didn't practice Wednesday as the Red Wings prepared to fly down to Fort Lauderdale.

"He's not making the trip," said Babcock of Datsyuk, whose 58 points (23 goals, 35 assists) trails only Henrik Zetterberg (59 points) for the team lead. "He has a lower body ache. He's not coming on the trip."

Babcock wouldn't rule out Datsyuk for Sunday's game against St. Louis, but with no practice scheduled for Saturday, it appears doubtful Datsyuk would be able to be ready.

The Red Wings do appear to be getting Darren Helm (oblique) back into the lineup.

Helm has missed the last eight games but expects to be cleared to play in time for Thursday's game.

Petr Mrazek will get the start in net Thursday, with Jimmy Howard starting Friday against the Lightning.

Helm in hunt

It appears forward Darren Helm (oblique) could return Thursday after missing the last eight games.

"We had pace today in practice for the first time in a while," Babcock said. "We had energy. Whether Helmer is a part of that or not, I think he is, but also our guys seem to be freshened up and we have to play well."

Bracketology

Justin Abdelkader

is in charge of the NCAA pool for the Red Wings, and said there's no cheating allowed.

"Guys will try to hold their sheets so there's no one like, maybe Tats (

Tomas Tatar

), who doesn't' know much about basketball copying their sheets," Abdelkader said.

Abdelkader, a Michigan State alum, wasn't sure how far the Spartans were going to go.

"I'll do some studying on the flight," Abdelkader said.

Tag team

Petr Mrazek

starts tonight in goal for the Red Wings, with

Jimmy Howard

slated to start Friday.

… The annual prospects tournament is Sept. 11-15 in Traverse City. The Blackhawks will replace the Sabres in the eight-team tournament.

… With the Red Wings gone the next few days, the Big Ten hockey tournament takes over Joe Louis Arena.

Abdelkader, for one, would like to see a few more Big Ten teams (there's currently six) add hockey.

"Eight or 10 teams would be great," he said. "Six doesn't seem like enough."

… The Red Wings assigned defenseman

Alexey Marchenko

to Grand Rapids


Red Wings at Panthers

Faceoff: 7:30 Thursday, BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

TV/radio:

FSD/97.1

Outlook:

The Panthers are on the edge of the playoff chase, seven points behind the Bruins for the final spot in the East. ... The Panthers are on a 5-4-run, but have lost their last two games. ... C

Nick Bjugstad

(24 goals) is having a breakout season.