Pavel Datsyuk wasn’t much of an offensive force in the NHL playoffs but it’s been a different story at the world championships.
Playing in his native Russia – where Datsyuk could be staying for the remainder of his playing career – Datsyuk leads Russia into the quarterfinals Thursday against Germany.
Datsyuk has seven points (one goal, seven assists) and a plus-5 rating, while leading Russia to a 6-1-0 record in the preliminary round.
The performance is in stark contrast to the NHL playoffs , where Datsyuk didn’t have a point during the Red Wings’ five-game series loss to Tampa Bay.
Datsyuk, who’ll be 38 on July 20, is leaning toward ending his Red Wings career and returning to Russia. Datsyuk said he wants to be close to his teen-age daughter, while ending his playing career in Russia’s Kontinental League.
Datsyuk will return to Detroit after the world championships and inform general manager Ken Holland of his final decision before the end of May.
Holland said at Red Wings’ clean-out day he is expecting Datsyuk to leave for Russia, although Holland hasn’t been told anything definite.
Winning the world championship in Russia would be a career highlight for Datsyuk, although there are several Red Wings teammates playing on competing countries this weekend who could spoil that.
Five Red Wings players, including Datsyuk, are left in the tournament.
Gustav Nyquist leads the entire tournament field with seven goals. Nyquist and Sweden (3-2-2) will play Canada (6-1-0) in the quarterfinals.
Dylan Larkin (Waterford) and the United States (3-3-1) will play the Czech Republic (6-0-1) Thursday in a quarterfinal, while Teemu Pulkkinen and undefeated Finland (7-0-0) face Denmark (4-2-1).
Larkin has seven points (two goals, five assists) in seven games and is plus-4. Pulkkinen has been a healthy scratch the last two games for Finland, after earning two assists in the opening five games.
Alexey Marchenko joins Datsyuk on the Russian roster, and has a tournament-best plus-10 rating.
The tournament semifinals take place Saturday, with the gold and bronze medal games Sunday.