The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/13/14 at 02:04 PM ET
This is raw Google-translated Ruslish (Russian to English), but I think that it speaks to what all Red Wings fans hope regarding Pavel Datsyuk's below-the-waist(?) injury, per Sovetsky Sport's Pavel Lysenkov...
- How is your health?
- All is well, thank God. Thank you. All I have is normal.
(Yes, please, God...)
And I thought that reading DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's take on Datsyuk's performance this morning was...Interesting:
The tournament is a very big deal for the Russians who haven’t won a major championship since the 1981 Canada Cup, and Datsyuk, despite a left leg injury insisted on playing in this historic event in his homeland.
The Red Wings’ two-way center missed 14 straight games after the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on New Year’s Day. He returned to the Detroit lineup last Thursday playing in the Wings’ final two games prior to the Olympic break at Florida and Tampa Bay.
In those games, Datsyuk – who is averaging more than 20-minutes of ice time this season – uncharacteristically played the wing on a line centered by Darren Helm. Datsyuk logged just 13:34 minutes against the Panthers and 14:46 against the Lightning, and only took one face-off when Helm was tossed from the circle against Florida.
Selected to be Russia’s team captain, Datsyuk centered the top line with former NHL forwards Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov. Whether or not he was bothered by the injury, Datsyuk just didn’t look like himself in the opener, firing just one shot on goal and winning 7-of-15 face offs.
If you missed the update to the Zetterberg back issue post, Expressen's Mattias Ek reports that Team Sweden's medical staff will coordinate Zetterberg's care with the Wings' physicians, and, as Sportsnet's Chris Johnston notes, the Red Wings' attending brass--Team Canada managerial consultant Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock, who may be the only person facing as much scrutiny as Datsyuk--are clearly cringing about their team's franchise players' health:
It was only moments after Pavel Datsyuk played at somewhere less than 100 per cent in Russia’s 5-2 tournament-opening victory over Slovenia on Thursday when news broke that Swedish captain Henrik Zetterberg is day-to-day with a herniated disc. Foes at the Olympics, Datsyuk and Zetterberg are two of the most important members of the Detroit Red Wings back home.
In a perfect world, neither would likely be playing at all right now. That is certainly part of the argument you’ve heard the NHL push against continuing to release its players for Olympic competition. Of course, there is a long, proud history of players putting their countries ahead of their employers – including the decision by Steve Yzerman, another former Red Wings star, to play on a wobbly knee at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.
That worked out well for everyone involved. Yzerman contributed to Canada’s historic Olympic gold, rehabbed the injury and returned for a playoff run where he captained the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup.
Zetterberg’s availability for the remainder of the tournament is in serious doubt. A herniated disc is not truly a “day to day” injury – at least not under normal circumstances – and the veteran centre skipped the team’s official photo on Thursday after playing in a 4-2 win over the Czechs a night earlier.
(It's been a day-to-day injury for Zetterberg in Detroit since late November)
Johnston noted Datsyuk's take on Russia's fans' fervor before closing his article with a fitting conclusion regarding the conflicting loyalties for each and every one of the Wings' Olympic participants, who are putting their bodies and brains on the line despite possible detriment to their shared NHL employer:
They love it just as much as Babcock and Holland, who have also travelled to Russia to try and win a gold medal for Canada here. Back in Detroit, wearing different hats, they wouldn’t want Zetterberg or Datsyuk near the ice. But in this environment they are in no position to take that opportunity away from two of their best players.
Especially since Team Canada might have to go through Russia and Sweden to win a gold medal of its own.
I don't care if it's Slovenia versus the ghosts of the Old Believers' cemetery that was paved over save a small thicket of trees and graves that happen to lie within the confines of the heart of Sochi's (technically, Adler's) seaside Olympic facilities: I understand why the Red Wings' players, Holland and Babcock are doing what they're doing, but as a Red Wings fan, I am desperately hoping that they come home with a bare minimum of physical injury or mental fatigue...
And I say that knowing that it's a pipe dream. In reality, the Red Wings' two most important players are going to return to Detroit "banged-up" for the balance of the regular season and/or any potential playoff run, and the coach is going to return having been put through the ringer and then some, at least if Twitter and otherwise-unbiased reporters' comments and critiques of EVERY FRICKING SHIFT are any indication of the kind of scrutiny the coach faces for the next week-and-a-half.
[sarcasm] Come to sunny Detroit, where hockey fans are slightly less unbalanced and, by comparison, downright charitable in their forgiving nature (pfft). [/well, maybe not sarcasm when compared to the insanity in Sochi]
Update: Per ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, it's Captain Understatement:
Leave it to a man of few words to describe exactly what the entire building felt like with his powerhouse team up just a goal over a hockey minnow.
"Tension, warning," Team Russia captain Pavel Datsyuk said.
To be precise, Datsyuk was responding to a question about how his team was feeling on the bench, up just 3-2 to open the third period Thursday over a Slovenia team that, on paper, the Russians should have clobbered.
But with an enthusiastic, flag-waving crowd at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, Dallas Stars rookie winger Valeri Nichushkin scored on an electrifying rush 3:59 into the final period, and Anton Belov's blast at 7:53 completely eased the "tension," allowing Russia to escape with a nervy 5-2 victory to open its gold-medal quest.
If you're looking for the Russian highlight Thursday, it might very well have been the fans, who were late arriving at this beautiful facility, but made up for it with a frenetic show of support throughout the game.
Think of the way a Brazilian soccer crowd raises its decibel level in calculated fashion as the ball is moved up the field. That's how it felt when Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin or Ilya Kovalchuk flew up the ice with the puck. You could feel the sense of anticipation rise.
"Unbelievable," Datsyuk said of the atmosphere. "I would like to say thank you to our fans, they helped us. We need it. They love hockey."
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