Datsyuk set to play for Wings in Game 5
DETROIT -- With the Stanley Cup finals even at two games apiece, the Detroit Red Wings are about to get a boost to their lineup.
Hart Trophy candidate Pavel Datsyuk will play in Game 5 on Saturday after the star forward missed the past seven games with a foot injury, coach Mike Babcock said Friday.
Stanley Cup Finals
The Red Wings and Penguins face off in the Stanley Cup finals for the second straight year. Want to know more? Get in-depth analysis, stats and opinion here:• Stanley Cup finals page
"He'll play," Babcock said.
Datsyuk hasn't played since May 19, when he blocked a shot with his foot against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik said the team wasn't concerned with Datsyuk's return.
"We haven't really thought about it too much. We've heard all the chatter about him coming back," Orpik told ESPN.com. "It doesn't change anything for us to be honest. Even if he does come back, we all have a lot of respect for the player he is. But that being said, I don't know how effective he's going to be if he comes back and he's playing at whatever level he's playing at."
Datsyuk was on the Mellon Arena ice a lot on Thursday -- just not when the Red Wings needed him. He went through the morning skate, extended his workout for a while on his own and during pregame warmups, looked as if he were getting ready to play in the game.
Then, he was a slightly surprising scratch before Pittsburgh's series-evening 4-2 victory against the defending champions.
"We were hoping Pav was going to be in, but we weren't planning," Babcock said. "Now we're hoping Pav's going to be in and we're planning that he's going to be in.
"But he's still got to be in."
Datsyuk could give Detroit a much-needed boost in all phases of the game, but it's difficult to imagine him being sharp after not playing for two-plus weeks.
"How does he do when he gets out there?" Babcock said. "He missed a chunk of time. Is he capable of those situations? Is he playing on the wing or is he playing in the middle?
"We'll see. I don't know the answer, and I'm being honest."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
MORE NHL HEADLINES
- Columbus' Johansen steals show at skills event
- Sources: NHL mulls Ryder Cup-style tourney
- TB's Johnson misses skills event, iffy for ASG
- Russian KHL eyes cap cuts amid financial crisis