Zetterberg, Datsyuk reunited for opener

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk

Brandon, Florida – If this truly is Pavel Datsyuk’s final playoff run with the Red Wings, he’ll have a familiar linemate to start.

Datsyuk was on a line with Henrik Zetterberg – Justin Abdelkader was on the other wing – during Tuesday’s practice, as coach Jeff Blashill looks to find an offensive spark.

Datsyuk and Zetterberg have thrived before, and Blashill hopes it can happen one more time.

“We’ll make a decision (Wednesday) on the finality of the lineup,” Blashill said. “But that’s how we practiced.”

Blashill hopes to find balance and strengthen his lineup top to bottom.

“We’d still like to get 2 percent better, we think we’re on a quest to continue to improve as a hockey team,” Blashill said. “Sometimes those two (Zetterberg, Datsyuk) together, the spark they provide, not only each other but to our team, can be a real positive thing. We’ll see.”

Blashill has used the Zetterberg-Datsyuk pairing infrequently this season. The veterans continued to pace the Red Wings’ offense this season, with Zetterberg leading the team in points (50) and Datsyuk one behind.

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Blashill flipped Brad Richards onto a line with Dylan Larkin and Darren Helm.

Riley Sheahan continues to center Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, while Luke Glendening was between Andreas Athanasiou and Joakim Andersson.

Key factors

Blashill said Joakim Andersson’s defensive ability and NHL experience were key factors in his decision to put Andersson on the roster over Anthony Mantha.

Andersson had a third-line role during the Red Wings’ 2013 playoff run but saw his ice time diminish over the last several seasons.

“He knows how to play the game,” Blashill said. “A lot of times in the playoffs you just have to manage your shifts. He’s not going to force something that’s not there, but he’s a good enough player to make a play when there’s an opportunity there.

“The other thing is he brings depth on the penalty kill. We wanted to have five guys on our bench comfortable killing. With him and (Andreas) Athanasiou, we feel we have extra guys who we can use in different areas.”