DETROIT >> There was an outside chance Pavel Datsyuk would return to the Detroit Red Wings lineup tonight against the Boston Bruins.
That isn’t happening.
The team will also be without Daniel Alfredsson, who’s listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury according to Detroit general manager Ken Holland.
Todd Bertuzzi gets back in the lineup, skating on the fourth line with Drew Miller and Luke Glendening.
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, leaving in the second period of a 6-1 win over Ottawa.
“Don’t know,” Datsyuk said when asked when he would return to the lineup. “Not tonight for sure.”
Asked if Friday at home against Buffalo would be when he would return Datsyuk said, “Not today.”
Right now it looks like all Datsyuk needs to do is get back in game shape.
“I need to pick up (the) pace,” Datsyuk said. “I think the two days (of practicing) helped me. I need conditioning more. I can’t do what I do.”
The Wings announced they were shutting Datsyuk down for three weeks at the trade deadline to rest his ailing left knee. Last Friday marked that three-week time frame.
“(I) feel much better,” Datsyuk said. “(I’m) happy to skate with team. Full practice, have fun, try to follow, everybody so fast.”
Datsyuk, who will miss his 16th consecutive game tonight, has 15 goals and 18 assists in 39 games this season. He’s played in just four games since the Winter Classic.
“Yeah,” Datsyuk said when asked if not being able to play is frustrating. “(I) would love to play as soon as possible but I need to be careful.”
Detroit is 7-6-2 without Datsyuk since the Olympic break and hold down the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
“They play unbelievable, but also I need to help (the) team,” Datsyuk said. “I just want to score (on) every shot, that’s what I’m missing. I feel good, but again it’s hard to say it’s 100 percent ready to go. I don’t need to be 100 percent but I need to be careful.”
The Wings face a Boston Bruins team that comes in 15-0-1 in their last 16 games.
“It looks like they’re just mowing everyone down right now,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They’re rolling. Their good players are scoring. They’ve got good team depth and they’ve got a good team. They’ve got excellent goaltending. This will be a tough test for us tonight. It should be fun.”
Detroit is 2-1-0 this season against the leaders in the Eastern Conference.
Boston won the first meeting in the series, 4-1. Detroit won the next two 3-2 and 6-1.
“The reality is the first time we played them we didn’t touch the puck,” Babcock said. “The second time I thought we had a real close game in their building and the third time in here they weren’t that good. So, sometimes you catch a team at the right time. It doesn’t look like we caught them at the right time.”
The Bruins also are a point ahead of St. Louis for the Presidents’ Trophy.