If all goes well, Pavel Datsyuk will return to Wings’ lineup Thursday at Florida

DETROIT >> There’s a very good chance the Red Wings may be getting a pivotal part of their lineup back before the Olympic break.

If all goes well over the next two days, Pavel Datsyuk will return to Detroit’s lineup Thursday in Florida.

“He’s going to decide Thursday after the morning skate,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said during a phone interview Tuesday. “As long as there are no setbacks he’ll play so we’re hopeful.”

Datsyuk missed his 14th straight game Monday with some sort of knee injury.

Datsyuk, who still is fourth on the team in scoring despite not playing since the Winter Classic, has said all along he would return prior to the Olympics.

“I’m just trying to make sure I play one or two games (before the Olympics),” Datsyuk said on Monday. “That’s my goal now.”

Detroit also plays at Tampa Bay Saturday before the Olympic break.

Datsyuk has practiced frequently, but the way Wings coach Mike Babcock has been talking it didn’t sound like Datsyuk was even close to returning.

“I just watched him in practice, his one leg isn’t holding up,” Babcock said. “Obviously, Pavel wants to play for his country and he wants to be a part of things, but you’ve got to be healthy.”

Datsyuk, who has 15 goals and 17 assists in 35 games this season, is Russia’s captain.

In order for Datsyuk to return the Wings will need to clear a roster spot before activating him.


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