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Wings' Pavel Datsyuk back on ice, but return unknown

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — There was a welcome and recognizable figure skating Monday morning at Red Wings practice.

Pavel Datsyuk was on the ice, getting ready.

Now, Datsyuk didn't do much. He pretty much was left on his own, stickhandling or going one-on-one on goaltenders Jimmy Howard or Petr Mrazek.

Datsyuk certainly didn't participate in any drills that might require contact.

But the fact Datsyuk was on the ice and doing something, anything, means he's working his way back after having missed the last the last three games with a lower-body injury.

"It's feeling better," Datsyuk said. "But it's not like 100 percent. We're looking at the bigger picture.

"I feel OK, but I'm not ready to play. I need to skate more with the team and feel better."

Datsyuk isn't concerned this injury will keep him out of the lineup long-term.

"I was hoping to play (Sunday) but it's not like I was really ready to help the team," Datsyuk said. "I hope to play (Tuesday) but I don't think I'll (be able to) play. Small chance. We'll see. I'll skate (in the morning skate) and we'll see.

"But there's a shot every day now (he could play)."

If Datsyuk continues to progress, he's likely to play by the end of the week, possibly Thursday against San Jose at the earliest.

The injury has been lingering, Datsyuk said, for about three weeks. Finally, he decided to rest it.

"It was just over and over and I couldn't play my game," Datsyuk said. "I needed to get it a little bit more healed."

Datsyuk mentioned there's "a small chance" he would play Tuesday against Arizona but quickly contradicted that.

Coach Mike Babcock isn't putting a timetable on Datsyuk's return.

"I don't know when he'll be able to play, but when he's ready to go…," Babcock said.

Getting Datsyuk back in the lineup would be a relief for a Red Wings team that has scored four goals in the three games (1-2-0) Datsyuk has missed.

Datsyuk has 58 points (23 goals, 35 assists) in 57 games this season and gives the Red Wings a proven offensive threat.

Without him, there's been an obvious void.

But Babcock feels the Red Wings have to battle through this offensive slump.

"Sometimes you have it going and sometimes you don't, and when you don't you have to stay mentally strong and keep going," Babcock said. "As a goal scorer, every time you get the puck and you're scoring, you shoot it. Why? Because it's going in.

"When you aren't scoring goals, you don't shoot it, because it's not going in.

"Maybe you should do what you always did and shoot the puck. And get on the inside, and win battles, and be good defensively and everything will turn."

Ice chips

Darren Helm was excused from practice after he and wife welcomed a new baby Sunday evening.

…Tuesday's opponent, the Coyotes, have lost eight consecutive games and 18 of their last 19 games.

But nobody Monday was taking them lightly.

"They'll come in, and as a (coach) Dave Tippett team they'll be organized and they'll work hard," Babcock said. "We'll have to play well. Don't cheat the system. If you don't show respect to the opposition, you don't show respect for yourself. Get ready and play hard."

... The Red Wings announced tickets for the 2015 playoffs will go on sale 10 a.m. Friday. Fans will be able to purchase tickets for each of the team's first two potential first-round home games.

Tickets can be purchased at the Joe Louis Arena box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, and online at DetroitRedWings.com.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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Coyotes at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: The Red Wings won the only other game between the teams this season. …The Coyotes have worst record in the Western Conference (21-44-8). ... D Oliver Ekman-Larsson (20 goals, 36 points) is a player they're building around.