Detroit — Several weeks ago, when Pavel Datsyuk was getting on the scoresheet infrequently and still getting over offseason ankle surgery, there was concern.
Was Datsyuk, at age 37, finally beginning to show his age? Was this beginning of the end of a Hall of Fame career?
Not so quick. All the evidence needed was the Red Wings’ last three games.
More specifically, Datsyuk has earned a point on the last six goals the Red Wings have scored (one goal, five assists).
Datsyuk assisted on Niklas Kronwall’s goal Sunday, the Red Wings’ only goal in a 2-1 shootout loss to Philadelphia.
But Datsyuk’s recent offensive surge was one of the main talking points.
“Looks good,” coach Jeff Blashill said of Datsyuk. “Pav is playing at a high level. He was before, but the points weren’t coming. But he was getting chances and opportunities.
“I talk all the time about results follow process. The process has been good with Pav and the results have followed.
“He was dangerous (Sunday).”
The point Sunday was typical Datsyuk. He won the draw, battled to gain possession of the puck, and got the puck to Jonathan Ericsson at the point, who found an open Kronwall.
“He’s playing good, he’s feeling it,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “He’s been playing well for us here for the last two months. Probably our best player.
“He has a lot of strength in him. When he skates well, he’s dangerous.”
Datsyuk had offseason surgery to repair ruptured tendons in his right ankle. He returned to the lineup Nov. 13 and has increased his output in recent weeks, now at 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) in 30 games.
“For us, he’s always good,” Kronwall said. “Whether he’s putting up points or not. If he’s not, it’s just because the goalies are standing on their head. But he’s been playing out of his mind here of late.
“We’re lucky to have him on our side.”
Powerless power play
A key reason for the Red Wings’ inability to earn a victory Sunday?
An ineffective power play which went 0-for-4, including not converting during a five-minute power play early in the first period that could have put the Flyers in an early hold.
“You have a power play like that early, you certainly want to score,” Blashill said. “Pavel and Hank’s unit had moments of good stuff in the zone. The one thing about the power play, and we’ve talked about this a lot, is you can have a great power plaly and not score. That’s just the reality of power plays.
“But the other unit had some entries where we could have had time to set up and just didn’t set up, so that was disappointing.”
A key reason for the Red Wings’ 5-1-1 record in their last seven games has been goaltender Petr Mrazek.
In a season of outstanding performances, Sunday’s 30-save effort against fellow Czech Republic goaltender Michal Neuvirth was one of Mrazek’s best.
Blashill wasn’t surprised by Mrazek’s ability to rise to yet another level.
“He played real well but I think that is who he is,” Blashill said. “Their guy played real well, too. In order to win in this league most teams need elite goaltending.
“He’s (Mrazek) given us elite goaltending, so that’s great.”
Blashill isn’t one to look at the jumbled, air-tight Eastern Conference standings.
“The thing about the standings is there’s a lot of things you can’t control,” Blashill said. “I’ve tried to talk to my wife (Erica) about not looking at other team’s scores but she doesn’t listen all the time.”
The Red Wings have a whiteboard in the locker room detailing how they’ve done in five-game segments.
“That point (Sunday) allowed us to be a playoff team for this season (based on the Red Wings’ formula),” Blashill said. “We keep it for the five-game segments and the cumulative, and that’s what we judge ourselves on, what we can control.”
Blashill tries to not listen to his wife’s scoreboard updates.
“She sits and mumbles things out loud,” Blashill said. “I just say ‘I’ve got to go to bed.’ ”