The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/12/11 at 04:41 PM ET
Yahoo Sports’ Justin Bourne pondered the difficulties of attempting to defend against Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk, suggesting that Datsyuk’s combination of tremendous strength, impeccable stickhandling and a limitless amount of creativity makes Datsyuk so inherently unpredictable that attempting to defeat #13 is almost always a losing proposition:
He changes the pace with a sharp fluidity, if that’s possible, and they seem to know — if we go at him because he’s stopped, he’s going to dish to a linemate flying into the zone and we’d be hosed. If we give him space, well, then we’ve just given Pavel Datsyuk time and space in the offensive zone, which is just about as petrifying a concept as watching Gretzky with it, the father of the jam-packed arsenal.
He’s one of the rare players in the league that nobody has a book on because of that seemingly endless creativity, his inability to get stuck in one mode which so many other forwards succumb to. It’s easy to get locked in — “I’m shooting here” — yet he seems to have no lock.
In these playoffs, he’s transcended being “one of the league’s great players,” and joined the upper echelon which once housed only Crosby and Ovechkin. And while Ovy seemed to have one foot out the door this season and Stamkos is still on the long journey to see if the club will someday accept him, it seems that Datsyuk has walked in the back door.
His game has no excess, just artistry. Somehow he’s flashy but not showy, confident but not cocky, and along the way he helps folks remember what being a “fan” is supposed to be like.
The way the older generation discusses the greats of the game before us, deifying the heroes that brought them so much joy, I’ll tell my kids about watching him at his prime.
With all due respect, Datsyuk was in the “upper echelon” by the time the Wings won the Cup in 2008. He’s just finally getting the notoriety he’s deserved for a long time now, and at 32 going on 33, he works do damn hard on both physical fitness and trying to come up with new ways to defeat his opponents via experimentation at the end of every practice that he’s not going to slow down for a long, long time.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.