Datsyuk's Return Makes Game Five a Toss Up, Penguins Still Have Edge

Matt Hutter@mahutter12Analyst IJune 6, 2009

PITTSBURGH - JUNE 04:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against Nicklas Lidstrom #5 the Detroit Red Wings during Game Four of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals on June 4, 2009 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Ironically, the Wings are now trying to do what the Penguins were trying last year: win a Stanley Cup Finals series without their Hart Trophy candidate.

Last year, Evgeni Malkin was "Mr. Everything" for the Pens during the regular season, carrying the team while Sydney Crosby was sidelined with an injury. Malkin continued this strong play through much of the playoffs.

Until the Stanley Cup Finals.

Malkin, who admitted after the series was over that he simply ran out of gas, was essentially non-existent in the Cup Finals until he scored in game six, what would turn out to be the last game of the series for his team.

Pittsburgh needed their Hart Trophy candidate in the worst way in the finals, and they didn't have him.

This year, the Red Wings have faced the same dilemma, albeit under very different circumstances.

Pavel Datsuyk has sat out the last seven games trying to come back from a foot injury sustained in game two of the Western Conference Finals.

Tonight, he is expected to be back in the line up and Red Wings players and fans alike are hoping he gives his team the boost it so desperately needs right now.

However, it has to be noted that Datsyuk, up until the time of his injury, had not been offensively productive throughout the playoffs.Β 

Datsyuk has just seven points (1 G, 6 A) in 13 games played this post-season.

While he has been defensively sound, the offensive brilliance that rounds out his game has been conspicuously absent.

Malkin, on the other hand, has been the best player for either team throughout this year's finals.

When he's not scoring goals, he's setting up his teammates. When he's not clearing the puck out of his zone on the PK, he's taking it down for a scoring chance.

He even threw in a fight for good measure, just to make sure the Wings knew that he's prepared to do it all for the Penguins and their quest for the Cup.

Datsyuk, like Malkin, is one of the best players in the world, with talent matched only by his work ethic.

With a day of rest, a game on home ice, and Pavel Datsyuk in the line-up, the Detroit Red Wings have a great chance to win game five.

But given the momentum and confidence Pittsburgh is coming in with, one would have to think the Penguins have an equally great chance to steal the road game they will need in order to win the Cup.

The difference may just come down to which Hart finalist does the most for his team.

Detroit is hoping their's can make a difference.

Pittsburgh knows that their's has done nothing but.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.