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With Datsyuk back and Sabres in town, Wings must guard against letdown

Apr 4, 2014, 11:39 AM EST

paveldatsyukgetty Getty Images

It’s always a potential danger when a star player like Pavel Datsyuk returns to the lineup — everyone else relaxes and stops doing the things that made the team successful when the star was out.

Datsyuk will be back tonight versus Buffalo, and Detroit coach Mike Babcock has a warning for the rest of his Red Wings.

“We can’t stand around watching him play,” said Babcock, per MLive.com. “We’ve been doing it without him and we’ve got to continue to make sure we’re doing our part.

“We’ve got to guard against saying, ‘Oh, Pav’s going to look after it.’ He isn’t going to look after it; we got to look after it as a group.”

Winners of three straight, the Wings enter tonight’s game with a 91.6 percent chance of making the playoffs for the 23rd straight time, per Sports Club Stats.

But the potential for a letdown goes beyond the return of Datsyuk. The Sabres are the worst team in the NHL, with just two wins in their last 14.

The Sabres also played last night in St. Louis, while the Wings have had a day to rest up after beating Boston on Wednesday.

Oh, and did we mention Buffalo has a ton of injuries?

For Detroit, tonight should be a slam dunk.

  1. rbbbaron - Apr 4, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Right on. The team has been playing better sans Pav than they were earlier in the season with him in the lineup, frankly. There are a few different reasons for that and obviously one of those reasons is not because Pav himself drags the team down, rather some guys on the ice would just defer to the guy way too often. I remember in that HBO series there was a scene where some of the younger guys were sitting around in a restaurant talking about how Pav is the best player in the world and then either Quincey or Smith admitted that whenever he was looking to move the puck out of the zone he’d always just search out number 13…
    The most import silver lining in this injury-plagued season has been the opportunity for these young guys to develop and take more responsibility upon themselves. A little more self-reliance can go a long way.

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