Best of Pavel Datsyuk over Recent Seasons
The Detroit Red Wings had their season come to an end a little over a month ago. Taking a step back from the negatives may help pass the time until we see what the Wings are able to accomplish this summer in free agency.
What better time than now to take a look at some of Pavel Datsyuk's top plays over the past couple of seasons?
Dangling the Sharks
This play starts off seemingly innocent.
Datsyuk takes the puck around the back of the net with Grier chasing him. Ryane Clowe comes up on the forecheck, attempting to slow Datsyuk down. Datsyuk made a simple fake one way, then shot the other, causing Grier and Clowe to get caught staring at him. They collide while "Houdini" escapes unharmed and continues his way up the ice.
This is not the only time Datsyuk worked his magic against the Sharks, though...
Dangling the Sharks, Pt. 2
He's at it again—this time in the "Shark Tank."
This November 10, 2010 game started to get out of hand early, when Datsyuk took this up-ice pass from Rafalski, crossed into the San Jose zone, slipped between two sharks and then buried the puck behind Antero Niittymaki despite his best efforts at a poke check.
There must be something about these California teams that brings out the best, or worst (in this next case) in Datsyuk.
Datsyuk Versus Perry
Already down 4-0 near the end of the game, the Ducks figured they may as well try to rattle the Detroit players who don't normally fight. Corey Perry found an unusual opponent in Pavel Datsyuk.
Though he rarely fought previous to this, Pavel was able to hold his own against the 6'3'' Perry and ended up taking him down.
This would not be the only time the Ducks got a first-hand view of what Datsyuk is capable of, though.
Pulling the E-Brake
Just about two weeks later, on October 23, 2010, the Ducks found themselves visiting the Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena. Pavel Datsyuk was ready to show them what else he had up his sleeve.
In the first period, Datsyuk takes the puck down into the Ducks' zone with several Anaheim defenders following him. Out of nowhere Datsyuk throws on the brakes and leaves the Anaheim players to skate right past him. He slides the puck over to Kronwall for a quick one-timer, but Curtis McElhinney was able to get a piece of it.
Although it did not result in a goal, Datsyuk still made the Ducks look lost on this play.
Picking the Preds, Pt. 1
In this May 3, 2010 game, Datsyuk was able to tally one early in the first against Nashville.
After juggling the puck around in their own zone, the Predators finally let Kevin Klein have it. As he skates around the back of the net, he is followed by Datsyuk. As soon as Klein gets to the front, he has the puck stolen from him and, in an attempt to take it back, trips and takes out the other defender—leaving Datsyuk alone with the goalie.
After a few quick moves, Datsyuk roofs the puck and uncharacteristically celebrates the goal.
Again, this was just a foreshadowing of what he would do in the opening round of the 2012 playoffs.
Picking the Preds, Pt. 2
What he did to Klein, Datsyuk does in very similar fashion to Roman Josi.
Josi gets the puck right after the face-off and retreats behind his own net. Datsyuk follows him, lifts his stick, takes the puck back around the front and tucks in the short glove-side of Rinne to bring the Wings back within one goal.
Despite Datsyuk's efforts, the Wings would eventually lose this third game, and the series in five games.
The Almost-Perfect Month
The Boston Bruins started off the 2011-2012 season with one goal in mind: defending their Stanley Cup title. They played well for most of the first half of the season, even winning all of their games in the month of November... except one.
Datsyuk's goal here in the second period put the Red Wings up 2-1, and they would eventually win the game 3-2 in a shootout, again thanks to Datsyuk.
It should be no surprise that Datsyuk was able to put the Wings ahead once again in the shootout, seeing what he has done to unsuspecting goalies one-on-one in the past...
Datsyuk Throws a Changeup
Ed Olczyk said it perfectly. "You're expecting a fastball, and Datsyuk throws a changeup."
Niemi stayed right with Pavel the whole way, thinking a quick shot would leave his stick. Had that been the case, Niemi seemed more than ready to handle it. However, Datsyuk is able to sell the shot, floating the puck in.
Niemi was obviously upset with himself for having watched this puck just float right past him and in the net.
Up and Over
Red Wings vs. Panthers. Tied at one. Less than five minutes to play in the game.
Datsyuk takes the puck behind the Panthers' net and is immediately flanked by two Florida defensemen. Thinking it might be too risky to go left or right, Datsyuk decides to simply go up.
He flips the puck over the top of the net, almost hitting Scott Clemmensen in the back of the head. Instead, the puck rolls forward and is almost slapped in by Nicklas Lidstrom.
It would have been an interesting way to break the tie near the end of the game. That would not have been Datsyuk's first time snapping a tie in the final moments of a game, though...
Going Duck Hunting
With the game tied at four each, the Red Wings were putting on pressure in the waning seconds of the game. After passing the puck around and taking attempts at that final goal, Lidstrom puts in on the net and lets Datsyuk do the rest.
He comes right down the high slot, picks up the rebound off Duck defender Andreas Lilja, makes a quick move and shoots through the legs of Dan Cleary, into the net with 11.4 seconds left.
Needless to say, the Ducks were not able to do much with just 11.4 seconds. The Red Wings claimed the two points, once again thanks to Pavel Datsyuk.
Preds Become the Prey
Why limit himself to just scoring final second goals against the Ducks? Datsyuk saw another opportunity to do it again, this time against the Nashville Predators.
After taking an almost no-look pass from Zetterberg, Datsyuk crossed the blue line, throws a move against Suter, then leaves Rinne wondering where he is as he buries the puck in the top of the net.
The result of this goal was a mostly ceremonial faceoff with five seconds left and keeping the home winning streak alive, pushing it on to 22 straight wins at the Joe Louis Arena.
Changing the Angle
Coming up through the neutral zone, Datsyuk chases a loose puck which he chips over a Coyote and to himself.
Closing in on Bryzgalov, and having a conventional forehand shot taken away, Datsyuk drops the puck back, throws his stick between his legs and still manages to get the shot on net. Although Datsyuk's shot did not make it in the net, it did set up an easy tap in for Darren Helm which put the Wings up by three in the first period.
It does not seem to matter how much time teams spend studying what Datsyuk does with the puck...he always seems to find a way to change it up and keep the opposition guessing.