Datsyuk expected to miss Game 1 of playoffs

Updated: April 20, 2006, 1:45 PM ET
Associated Press

DETROIT -- Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk is expected to miss the first game of the playoffs Friday against the Edmonton Oilers because of an injured left thigh.

Detroit Red Wings

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Datsyuk practiced Thursday, but Detroit coach Mike Babcock said he didn't appear to be ready to play in Game 1.

"He looked to me like he was going to take tomorrow off," Babcock said.

While the team did a drill at one end of the ice, Datsyuk skated in circles around the other net with a puck.

Datsyuk said Monday he hoped to be healthy enough to play at the start of the playoffs after skating for the first time since being knocked out of the lineup April 3. He was hurt during a shootout win at Calgary, but didn't realize he was injured after being checked by Andrew Ference.

"It was not a big hit," Datsyuk said earlier this week. "I felt it on the plane. It was swollen."

He said the injury, above his left knee, had improved each day while he's been out.

Datsyuk had a team-high 87 points, and finished the regular season tied for 17th in the league, with Colorado's Joe Sakic, in points on 28 goals and 59 assists.

The dazzling player with great hands and moves was a standout during his previous two regular NHL seasons -- with 119 points combined -- and lackluster in the playoffs, like most of his teammates. He didn't score a goal and had six assists combined in the 2003 and 2004 Stanley Cup playoffs when the Red Wings exited the postseason early. As a rookie in the 2001-02 season, he had 35 points.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press