DETROIT >> The good news is Pavel Datsyuk has begun skating.
The bad news is he’s still not able to skate hard in order to test his ailing left knee.
“Nobody knows,” Datsyuk said if the time off will ultimately heal his knee. “We are just hoping and hoping and (praying) too.”
The Wings announced they were shutting Datsyuk down for three weeks at the trade deadline.
Friday marks that three-week timeframe.
“It feels OK, but I’m still not skating hard enough to check how I feel,” Datsyuk said.
Datsyuk didn’t skate Thursday morning.
He had just returned to the ice on Monday and plans to skate again Friday, but it more than likely will be on his own, before the team practices.
“I (didn’t) skate for two weeks, now I’m skating,” said Datsyuk, who tweeted on Monday that he had just started skating and hopes to play soon. “It’s big for me and I want to be positive.”
Datsyuk played for Russia at the Olympics, but has only been able to play in two games with the Wings since returning. He last played on Feb. 27.
“I (felt) really great, I could just do what I could do,” Datsyuk said about participating at the Olympics. “It was like, play a simple game, save my knee.
“I don’t know if I’ll make it back 100 percent but I have better chance, better percentage, to come back to be Pavel,” Datsyuk added. “We have (a) plan to be better. So it’s the beginning and it’s not very good. Now we’re planning maybe not being 100 percent but close to something.”
If Datsyuk returns he would like to do so before the playoffs.
“It’s not easy when you miss lots of games and you have to pick up pace in the playoffs, it’s a different level, different hockey,” Datsyuk said.
As for a return date, Datsyuk said, “Two thousand fourteen. Every day I hope it’s better and better and I can say anything like tomorrow can be the deadline.”
Datsyuk doesn’t know if offseason surgery will be required to get it right.
“We’ll see what happens,” Datsyuk said. “Hard to say now, (we’re doing) everything to not do surgery.”
Datsyuk has 15 goals and 18 assists in 39 games this season.
“(Trainer) Piet (Van Zant) told me that he looks like he could play, but I’ve heard that lots,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday. “When I see him in the lineup I’ll believe it.”
Wings general manager Ken Holland still is waiting to see what the next step is for getting Datsyuk back in the lineup.
“He’s a superstar,” Holland said. “Pav at 80 percent is pretty good.”
Despite missing Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg for a bulk of the season, the Wings have been able to stay in the playoff race due in large part to the young players from Grand Rapids.
“I see what they have done and I’m happy with what they did, the whole team is sticking together and playing like a team,” Datsyuk said. “It’s fun to watch, but not fun to watch for me. They’ve done a great job and I’m very happy for this one.”