'Something is missing' in Datsyuk's game

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Pavel Datsyuk

Detroit – Pavel Datsyuk isn't known to have one of the hardest shots on the Red Wings.

So how do you explain Datsyuk shattering a small pane of glass during Monday's morning skate at Joe Louis Arena?

"I hope I don't have to pay for that," Datsyuk said.

Maybe it was all one small sign that Datsyuk is getting stronger and healthier after returning from ankle surgery this offseason.

Monday's game against Buffalo was to be Datsyuk's 16th – he missed the first 14 rehabilitating from the surgery – but Datsyuk feels there's still some gaps in his game.

"Something is missing," said Datsyuk several times.

He has just seven points (two goals) in his 15 games.

"I feel good right now," he said. "At the beginning it was tougher because everybody was so fast. I'm on pace with everybody now. But something is still missing. I need to find it."

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Datsyuk admitted he needs to be better at handling and shooting the puck.

"I need to win more puck battles, too," he said. "For sure I will find it (whatever is missing). I need time. Maybe Santa Claus will bring it."

Datsyuk enjoys playing with his linemates, Brad Richards and Darren Helm. The line has been effective since being put together, with Datsyuk's deft playmaking skills working well with Richards' shot and offensive instincts, and Helm's skating and tenaciousness.

"We have everything (on that line)," Datsyuk said. "Brad makes plays and Helm has his speed. I'm between them and just have to choose a side."

Coach Jeff Blashill isn't concerned about Datsyuk's offensive shortcomings so far this season. As far as Blashill is concerned, Datsyuk, at age 37, remains as dangerous as ever.

"He looks the same as when I was here four years ago (as an assistant coach)," Blashill said. "He looks every bit as good. He might not feel it (physically), but he is every bit as good as when I was here four years ago."

Blashill likes what he's seen of the line with Datsyuk, Richards and Helm.

"Pavel has been playing real well, he's created a lot of chances for himself and that line," Blashill said. "Richie has had a ton of shots on net. Pavel is going to continue to point toward more as he continues with the good process he's had."

As for that smashed glass Monday morning, Blashill wasn't surprised.

"His shot is way more deceptive than maybe what it looks at times," Blashill said. "He has a real quick release and when he releases the puck, it's harder than it looks for sure."