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Have the Detroit Red Wings already missed out on the best of Pavel Datsyuk this season?

Datsyuk Shootout

As we get back to actual hockey and you figure out a way to protest Gary Bettman in way that includes watching games (I don’t have any ideas, sorry) the masses are trying to figure out what this 48-game schedule will be all about and who it will benefit.

It could help the old guys. They have fresh legs in January. But that’s only if they haven’t been playing in Europe this entire time, which has been the case for many of the Red Wings’ old guys.

There’s one in particular to be concerned about, one that’s been dazzling towns you’ve never heard of in Russia since the beginning of fall.

Pavel Datsyuk.

Look at the list of what the Red Wings have been doing during the lockout:

Forwards

  • Justin Abdelkader – Trained in Detroit
  • Todd Bertuzzi – Trained in Detroit
  • Damien Brunner* – Played with EV Zug of the Swiss National League A. 33 games played, 25 goals, 32 assists, 57 points.
  • Daniel Cleary – Trained in U.S.
  • Pavel Datsyuk – Played with CSKA Moscow in the KHL. 31 games played, 11 goals, 25 assists, 36 points.
  • Patrick Eaves – Still having complications due to concussion suffered in November 2011.
  • Cory Emmerton – Played one game with SaiPa in Finland’s SM-Liiga, breaking his finger. No stats
  • Valtteri Filppula – Played with Jokerit in Finland’s SM-Liiga before spraining his right knee. 16 games played, six goals, nine assists, 15 points.
  • Johan Franzen – Trained in U.S.
  • Darren Helm – Trained in U.S., suffered fractured cheekbone on November 2.
  • Drew Miller – Played with the Braehead Clan (Scotland) in the UK’s Elite Ice Hockey League. 23 games played, 15 goals, 15 assists, 30 points.
  • Jan Mursak – Played with HDD Olimpija Ljubljana in the Austria’s Erste Bank Eishockey Liga. 30 games played, 19 goals, 29 assists, 48 points.
  • Gustav Nyquist – Played with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL. 33 games played, 12 goals, 20 assists, 32 points.
  • Mikael Samuelsson – Trained in U.S.
  • Jordin Tootoo – Trained in U.S.
  • Henrik Zetterberg – Played with EV Zug of the Swiss National League A. 23 games played, 16 goals, 16 assists, 32 points.

Defensemen

  • Carlo Colaiacovo – Played in an individual tournament in Switzerland called the Spengler  Cup, injuring shoulder. He’s expected to miss 2-3 weeks.
  • Jonathan Ericsson – Trained in U.S.
  • Jakub Kindl – Played with HC ČSOB Pojišťovna Pardubice in the Czech Extraliga. 27 games played, 1 goal 10 assists, 11 points, Plus/Minus: -7.
  • Niklas Kronwall – Trained in U.S.
  • Kyle Quincey – Played with the Denver Cutthroats of CHL. 12 games played, 2 goals, 9 assists, 11 points, Plus/Minus: -3.
  • Brendan Smith – Played with the Grand Rapids Griffins on the AHL. 32 games played, 5 goals, 15 assists, 20 points, Plus/Minus: +9.
  • Ian White – Trained in U.S.

Goalie

  • Jonas Gustavsson – Trained in U.S.
  • Jimmy Howard – Trained in U.S.

*(There’s a possibility Damien Brunner may stay in the Swiss League to finish out the year.)

One of your best players, who is very quietly 34 years old, has already played 31 games this season. And that’s not 31 NHL games. That’s 31 games in the KHL, traveling on old Russian airplanes and buses just about every other night.

It’s going to be an odd season. The first 10 games will play a significant part in defining a team’s season. That could be good. Datsyuk will be in midseason form. But from there on out, if the Red Wings are hunting for one of the few remaining playoff spots, you should be concerned. In a condensed schedule with teams playing every other day until the end of time, there will be no rest for Datsyuk. He’ll get tired. And if last year is any indication, his offensive will drop.

Datsyuk needed a few weeks to get going. Then, about 20 games in, he blew up with three 10-game stretches (Games 18 to 27, Games 19 to 28, Games 20 to 29) where he scored 15 points. His most productive 20-game stretch came from Game 17 to Game 36, where he scored 28 points.

From there on out, the offense started to decline. Right around Game 48, he dropped off pretty significantly. He didn’t have double-digit points in any 10-game stretch after having 10 from Games 43 to 52. His lowest 10-game output when he wasn’t injured came from Game 48 to 57, when he scored just five points.

After getting injured and missing 11 games due to knee surgery (he missed 12 total last season, by the way), Datsyuk came back and scored eight points in the team’s final 11 games. He was then the only player that could generate any consistent offense in the Red Wings’ playoff series against Nashville, registering three points in five games.

Sure there were other factors: he was probably playing hurt before the surgery, his other teammates got hurt, blah blah blah. Still a 34-year-old playing a 25-year-old man’s game is going to get tired. And when he does, it will come in crunch time of this NHL season.

Datsyuk’s already wasted most, if not all, of his prime scoring run in the KHL. Another year older, riding on less than ideal accommodations in Russia and facing an condensed NHL schedule, Datsyuk is probably already going on game 35 or so.

He’s going to need some rest sooner rather than later.

The question is, are the Red Wings going to be in a position to give him any?

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