Datsyuk set to make season debut against Sharks; team practice notes

Since having off-season ankle surgery to repair an issue that dated back into last season, Detroit Red Wings superstar Pavel Datsyuk is set to finally make his season debut Friday evening when the Red Wings host the San Jose Sharks at Joe Louis Arena.

Datsyuk practiced on a line with captain Henrik Zetterberg, reuniting the Eurotwins at last, and it feels so good. They also had Justin Abdelkader the “Piano Man” practicing on the wing with them, who is likely to take that position come game time, with how much Datsyuk likes playing alongside him. Dylan Larkin was bumped down to the 2nd line, flanked by Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist, to make room for Datsyuk on the top line.

Tempers flared during practice between Teemu Pulkkinen and Brendan Smith. The team was doing what they call “battle drills” during practice, which is essentially fighting for position at the net-front. Pulkkinen took exception to the physical treatment he was receiving from Smith and the two pushed and shoved for a spell before being separated by teammates. Coach Jeff Blashill weighed in on the situation, via MLive.

“One thing we’ve talked about is doing some battle drills; those drills were designed to be battles at the net front,” Blashill said. “I think when you have battle drills you’re going to have some emotion. We got highly competitive people. Do I like it? I like to see highly competitive practices for sure.”

Hopefully it was a one-off situation and things are back to normal now.

Brad Richards also skated with the team for the first time in roughly three weeks, rotating in with the top-six forwards, but won’t be ready to play this weekend against either the Sharks or the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

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While Jimmy Howard occupied the net in practice normally manned by the next game’s starter, Blashill said he would reveal the starter against the Sharks on Friday. Petr Mrazek has started the first game of each of the four back-to-backs that the Red Wings have played so far this year, with a 3-1-0 record in those starts.

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