Datsyuk getting stronger, scores goal No. 300
Detroit — In a career of milestones, Pavel Datsyuk notched another one Wednesday against the Boston Bruins.
Datsyuk’s second-period goal in Boston’s 3-2 overtime victory was career goal No. 300.
Datsyuk joined Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Alex Delvecchio, Sergei Fedorov and Henrik Zetterberg as the only Red Wings with at least 300 goals, 500 assists and 800 points.
“Big milestone for me,” Datsyuk said. “I’m happy to help my team with so many good teammates. It’s fun.”
Wednesday’s goal was Datsyuk’s second since he returned to the lineup after off-season ankle surgery.
Datsyuk appears to be developing chemistry with his new linemates, Brad Richards and Teemu Pulkkinen, and getting stronger on the ice.
“I always have my legs with me,” Datsyuk said. “Every game is a little better and more confidence. Everything is slowing down and it’s more fun now.”
As for his linemates, Datsyuk enjoys the varied skills each has.
“Richards is a good player, he can pass, handle the puck, shoot and make plays,” Datsyuk said. “Pulkkinen can make plays and he’s a shooter. He can make things happen.”
Datsyuk’s progress over the seven games he’s been in the lineup is apparent to coach Jeff Blashill.
“His game has grown every game he’s played,” Blashill said. “That goal (Wednesday) was a big time goal. He’s been really good. He’ll continue to build.
“And again, it gives us four lines that are going to be real successful.
“There’s guys on our team that do some special things. He’s (Datsyuk) certainly right there. Z (Henrik Zetterberg) does some special things. I admire the way they come to work every day, to be honest with you. People only see the finished product, but the work they put in every single day is amazing.
“That’s why they’ve been two of the best winners in the world for a long time.”
Blashill shuffled his lines often the opening weeks of the season in an attempt to find chemistry and an offensive spark.
It’s only been in the last five games or so that Blashill has found some consistency and production with four stable lines.
“You don’t usually change lines when it’s going good. Sometimes you change when you’re not going good so it’s kind of a chicken or the egg thing,” Blashill said. “The biggest thing is we’ve got four lines playing good hockey. From a usage standpoint we’ve probably used them in a certain way that’s allowed us to have a chance to be more offensive, but we have four lines that are playing good hockey.
“I felt at the beginning of the year that could be the strength of this hockey team, our depth throughout our lineup. The last three games, that’s the way it’s played out.”
Players say it will be good to go through a busy schedule.
“It’s good when you play,” goalie Petr Mrazek said. “Every two days, it’s good to play and stay in the game.”
…Blashill felt Wednesday’s game, despite the loss, may have been the best the Red Wings have played this season.
“In the offensive zone we did some really good stuff, we were active, created lots of confusion, we had net presence,” Blashill said. “We did the things it takes to be successful. If we play 10 games like that, we’ll win eight of them.”
Oilers at Red Wings
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Joe Louis Arena.
TV/radio: FSD+; 97.1, 1270
Outlook: The Oilers (7-14-1, 15 points) are back in a familiar position — owning the worst record in the NHL. ... The loss of C Connor McDavid (collarbone), who began his career with 12 points in 13 games, has hurt the Oilers.