Павел Дацюк! The Human Highlight Reel

You’d be surprised what putting up one post on a Russian Hockey star can do. It can reignite my passion for why I started this blog in the first place. To honor and recognize one of the greatest two-way players in the game.

Павел Дацюк (Pavel Datsyuk) is that kind of special talent that comes around rarely. Sure. There are other versions like Selke Trophy beast Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar and to a lesser extent Sidney Crosby. However, Datsyuk took it to another level due to his unique combination of supreme skating with high skill that included dangles, toe drags, dekes, takeaways with elite finishing and playmaking.

Here’s a great video tribute to the man I refer to as Datsyukian. I use that name because Datsyuk does things at such a high level that I can’t think of anyone who’s in the same stratosphere. Had he produced more points for the Red Wings, he would’ve won a Hart Trophy. He was only nominated once finishing a distant third in ’08-09 behind countrymen Evgeni Malkin and Hart winner Alex Ovechkin.

A four-time Lady Byng winner for the league’s most gentlemanly player over a brilliant 14-year NHL career all spent in Hockey Town USA, Datsyuk won his three Selke Trophies for the league’s top defensive forward in three straight years (ages 29-31) from ’07-08 thru ’09-10.

Not only was the great two-way center dominant in all three zones with his uncanny ability to cleanly sneak from behind, lift sticks and steal the puck, but he was money on face-offs. When they started recording face-off percentage, it’s no surprise that Datsyuk went 54.8 percent from ’07-08 to his last NHL season in ’15-16.

In 953 career games all spent with the Red Wings after they stole him in the sixth round of the 1998 NHL Draft at number 171, Datsyuk registered 314 goals with 604 assists for a total of 918 points and a plus-249 rating. A two-time Stanley Cup champion in ’01-02 and ’07-08, he was so much more than only statistics. All you had to do was watch a shift by number 13 rocking the Winged Wheel to understand what a complete player he was.

I might not be the biggest Corsica possession enthusiast. But from the time they started recording that stat, Datsyuk was a puck possession beast averaging a ridiculous 59.0 CF. While it’s true he had more zone starts in the offensive zone, he was as defensively reliable as it got. You knew he could be counted on for big draws and key defensive plays to get the puck out quickly and transition to offense. Nobody was quite like him.

If you watch the video above, skip ahead to 4:16 for a laugh. Datsyuk faked out two players so badly, they collided. The puck stuck to his stick like a magnet. He was poetry in motion.

When they won the Cup over the Pens in 2008, Datsyuk went 10-13-23 with a plus-13 rating. He won 54.5 percent of face-offs and had 27 takeaways. In 16 postseason games the following year, an injury limited him to a goal and eight assists. Had he not missed time versus Pittsburgh, Detroit repeats. He took part in three games and tallied two assists.

At the age of 42, Datsyuk is still playing back home in Russia for Yekaterinburg Automobilist of the KHL. After spending his first three years with St. Petersburg SKA, he’s played for Yekaterinburg Automobilist this year and last year. So far, he’s having a bounce back season with 20 points (5-15-20) in 18 games. His 15 apples pace the team. He’s second in scoring behind Alexei Makeyev (15-11-26). Datsyuk has played four fewer games.

As long as he keeps playing at a high level, hopefully he’ll stick around. He’s a future Hall of Famer.

Очень спасибо, Павел!

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The best of Alexei Kovalev


It’s been a while since I posted on this blog. Ever since Pavel Datsyuk left the NHL to return home and finish his brilliant hockey career in the KHL, I didn’t have the motivation to keep it going.

I should’ve. Datsyuk remains one of my favorite players to ever play the sport. He was a magician with the puck and dynamic to watch. Even though he continues to play back home in Russia, many North American hockey fans miss him. The Datsyukian ability where number 13 would have the puck on  a string while dangling and faking out players and then making goalies look silly, is what made him so unique. What an amazing talent.

I often compare Datsyuk to the great Hall of Fame Red Wing Russian center he followed in one Sergei Fedorov. Fedorov was the best skater I saw. He had such powerful strides and was graceful to watch. He also remains one of the greatest two-way players to ever play the game. Datsyuk was similar. He could play in any big game situation and dominate both offensively and defensively while winning face-offs.

It’s ironic that Detroit had both at one time when they won the Cup in ’02. Had Datsyuk not missed time against the Pens in a epic rematch, they probably repeat in ’09. What a series it still was. It came down to Marc-Andre  Fleury stoning Nick Lidstrom at the buzzer.

Aside from my love of Datsyuk and Fedorov, my all-time favorite player is Alexei Kovalev. From the time he debuted as a 19-year old rookie with the Rangers to the time he lit it up after Mike Keenan left him out for a ridiculously long shift to some benchings, Kovalev was electrifying to watch. A fan favorite who had a impact in the Rangers Stanley Cup win during ’94, number 27 was one of the most talented players to play the sport.

Even if he was treated like crap by Colin Campbell and eventually traded by Neil Smith to the Penguins for Petr Nedved in a five player deal, I never stopped supporting him. Of course, he figured it out in Pittsburgh while playing with Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka, Robert Lang and eventually the triumphant return of Mario Lemieux. They also allowed Kovalev to play his game. Something he never was allowed to do on Broadway following Keenan’s exit. Thanks Campbell.

In approximately five years, AK27 performed extremely well in the Steel City.  His best season came in ’00-01 when he registered career highs in goals (44), assists (51) and points (95) over 79 games. Even after Super Mario returned and lit up the Maple Leafs before Christmas, Kovalev played mostly with Straka and Lang on a terrific second line. It’s too bad the cohesive trio couldn’t stick together longer. Ditto for Jagr, who after helping save the Pens franchise with a heroic performance to stun the Devils in ’99, would eventually get dealt to the Capitals following 2001. Lemieux needed to cut expenses which meant Kovalev got traded back to the Rangers where it didn’t work out. He was used wrong. They somehow thought it was a good idea to play him at left wing and not use him on the right point of the power play.

Once they dealt him in a sell-off to the Canadiens, Kovalev rediscovered his scoring touch. Even though he went through peaks and valleys, Kovy wound up with 430 goals and 599 assists to total 1029 points for his two decade NHL career. He provided many highlights due to his remarkable skating, dekes, toe drags and ridiculous wrist shot. He remains one of the most gifted offensive players to ever play the game.

Without further due, here’s the best of Alexei Kovalev.

https://youtu.be/2CeF2l4p7jk

https://youtu.be/oGvYll1xxsI

I love the ISO on the hat trick in overtime where he waited for the pass from Straka, then held the puck to let Martin Brodeur commit before flipping a backhand into a open net for the overtime winner.

https://youtu.be/UHZ5HcTkBtI

https://youtu.be/_WpUbWqxj00

Some textbook stuff from Kovalev on these finishes. He could combine patience with unique finishing ability. Whether it be wrist shot, deke or one-timer, what a lethal player.

https://youtu.be/dwUy6Zma2Xg

Called by the legendary Doc Emrick and John Davidson.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLTOMAw_-3krNQOrOuClxR4TvkmJC2AwyG

That concluded the crazy long shift. Epic.

https://youtu.be/rzuVIgQYSOA

Best part is when he loses his helmet and goes back at Zdeno Chara. Then scores on a backhand. The French Canadian call makes it more exciting.

https://youtu.be/aBwnKgzrKII

The ability to fake out multiple defenders and then just make Robert Esche  look silly is unbelievable. It’s one of the best goals. What an angle. Plus it’s in Russian. 😍  Алексей Ковалев!

https://youtu.be/iXb0nyN7qkk

His four goal game for the Senators came towards the end of his career. Kovalev wasn’t as consistent in Ottawa after Montreal balked at re-signing him. I think his heart was set on staying with Les Canadiens. Maybe where he would’ve preferred to end his NHL career. But it wasn’t to be. Cool moonwalk. Kovy could do anything on skates. He had one of the hardest work ethics. Even did tutorials. Now, he coaches in the KHL. Who would’ve believed it?

https://youtu.be/yEkCM-08lUQ

You can’t have a best of Kovalev without that all important goal late in the second period of Game Six with the Rangers trailing the Devils 2-1. It was a beautiful fake and then sweet finish on Brodeur that changed the complexion of that game. Mark Messier did the rest in what’s known as The Guarantee. No Cup without that goal. Kovalev was also in on a couple of Messier tallies.

https://youtu.be/KKcbZrEbHcQ

Kovalev wasn’t only a guy who could finish, but a great passer as we see here on this terrific set up for a big Straka goal in the memorable Game Six Pens comeback versus the Devils in the ’99 first round series. He and Straka carried them until Jagr returned and played the hero that day.

https://youtu.be/W3CcEOH6W0A

This remains one of my favorite clips. Kovalev gets hi-sticked by Darcy Tucker and keeps skating. We all know how dirty Tucker was. So, Kovy sucked Tucker in with his skating and as the hated Leaf was about to deliver a big hit, AK27 comes up high with a deliberate elbow to Tucker. What a beauty. He had it coming. When I think of all the cheap shots that guy got away with including the dirty hit that injured Michael Peca, it was nice to see someone give Tucker a taste of his own medicine. That also was the final game between the Canadiens and Leafs for that season.

https://youtu.be/AHoLvOGplnA

Pretty high end skill from Kovalev to all in one motion accurately one-time a bouncing puck by Andrew Raycroft. Ridiculous. Even Jack Edwards acknowledged it.

https://youtu.be/zL1pqM2U9gE

This was the remarkable tying power play goal in a game Montreal once trailed 5-0. We were driving to our friend’s in New Jersey. The Canadiens started the comeback while we listened on the radio. After the second goal, both Justin and I agreed they were coming back. Sure enough, Kovalev tied it on a rocket one-timer. The Habs won in overtime. I don’t call Montreal the House of Horrors for nothing.

https://youtu.be/ajA0bVkyON0

Почему нет? Why not? A Russian video tribute to Kovalev, showcasing all of his tremendous puck skills. There was nothing he couldn’t do.

Gold Medalist
Stanley Cup Champion
Great Player

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Russian Hockey Part I

Part I of the Russian Project looks at some of the biggest stars who had a huge impact in the NHL. In this post, we focus on memorable Hart seasons. Plus other notables.

In my study of Russian Hockey, I’ll take a look at the impact Russian players have had on the NHL. This post will be about the best individual seasons. Let’s break it down further:

In league history, there have been five Hart Trophies for Most Valuable Player handed out to Russians. Washington Capital Alexander Ovechkin tops the list with three Harts (’07-08-’08-09, ’12-13). Current Pittsurgh Penguin Evgeni Malkin took the award in 2012. Recently inducted Hockey Hall of Famer Sergei Fedorov won it in ’93-94.

Fedorov became the first Russian born player to win the Hart during ’93-94. At age 24, he finished second in scoring with 120 points (56-64-120) in 82 contests for the Detroit Red Wings helping lead them to a division title. As noted in the previous post, Fedorov led the league with 39 even-strength goals and finished second in plus/minus (48). He also scored four shorthanded goals and was not surprisingly the Selke winner for top defensive forward. His big year was also recognized by his peers who elected him the Lester B. Pearson Award as MVP by the players.

Ovechkin won the first of three in ’07-08. At just 22, he lit it up with a league-leading 65 goals and 112 points taking home the Art Ross and Rocket Richard. How lethal was he? Ovechkin led in even strength goals (43) and power play goals (22) and game winners (11)  while pacing the league in shots (446). That dominant a season allowed him to win the Pearson. The Caps topped the old Southeast Division with 94 points returning to the postseason.

For an encore, Ovechkin repeated with a league best 56 markers, 56 assists and 110 points. He led the league with 36 goals coming at even strength. He still put up big numbers in power play (19) and game-winners (10) while recording a incredible league-leading 526 shots. His second postseason was also strong with 11 goals, 10 helpers for 21 points in 14 games. Unfortunately, the Caps fell to the rival Pens in a entertaining seven-game second round series. It remains the only one that matched up Ovechkin with Sidney Crosby. That could change in ’15-16.

Before Ovechkin won his third MVP, fellow Russian Malkin took home his first in ’11-12. Having already established himself with a Conn Smythe at age 22 when he followed up a career best 113 points (35-78-113) with a playoff-leading 36 points (14-22-36) in leading the Pens to a third Stanley Cup in ’08-09, the incredibly talented Malkin came back from injury to produce his first ever 50-goal season with 59 assists and a league-leading 109 points in 75 contests. Of his 50 goals, 37 were even strength and 22 were power play. For his effort, he also took home the Ted Lindsay Award which replaced the Pearson.

After a couple of down seasons, Ovechkin returned to form during the shortened season of 2013. He took home his third Hart tying Bobby Clarke, Mario Lemieux, Howie Morenz and Bobby Orr for the third most all-time. He can catch Eddie Shore (4) and possibly Gordie Howe (6). All-time leader Wayne Gretzky (9) looks unreachable. A strong finish allowed him to win the Rocket Richard with 32 goals. He tied for third in scoring with Crosby tallying 56 points (32-24-56) while playing in all 48 games. Ovechkin led the league in power play goals (16) and shots (220). For the third time in his career, he led the Caps to the second round but the Rangers eliminated them in a hard fought seven games. Unfortunately, that’s been a recurring theme for the emotional Washington leader. His team blew series leads of 3-2 in 2013 and 3-1 in 2015 to the Rangers losing in gut wrenching fashion last Spring in Round 2. On a better team that leads the East by a nice margin, Ovechkin has a chance to rewrite the script.

Throughout history, Russian players have led the NHL in scoring three times. Ovechkin was the first in ’07-08 with 112 points, Malkin followed suit with 110 in ’08-09. He won his second league scoring title in ’11-12 with 113.

The Rocket Richard count is at eight. Ovechkin is responsible for five. Ilya Kovalchuk has one and Pavel Bure won the award twice in ’99-00 and ’00-01 but also led the league in ’93-94. The award recognizing former Canadien legend Maurice Richard started in ’98-99 with Teemu Selanne fittingly winning it with 47.

While all three are deserving, the forgotten Russian who isn’t recognized is Alexander Mogilny. In ’92-93, Mogilny scored 76 goals to tie Selanne for the league lead. Playing in obscurity for the Buffalo Sabres, the electrifying Mogilny was a highlight reel while teaming with centerman Pat LaFontaine. His 76 goals in 77 games is one of the few marks that’s gotten lost. That’s basically a goal-per-game clip for a entire season. His 76 remain the most ever scored in a single season by a Russian born player. Mogilny also set the single season mark for most points by a Russian in ’92-93 with 127 (76-51-127).

Mogilny is an interesting case for the Hockey Hall of Fame. He doesn’t have the star power of Fedorov or Bure. But he did total 473 goals and 559 assists for 1,032 points in 990 career NHL games. Injuries limited his production. Had he been healthier, 500 goals would’ve been a lock along with 1,000 games. His final season was ’05-06 with the Devils when he totaled 12 goals and 13 assists for 25 points in 34 contests. The bitter conclusion to an otherwise brilliant career has made him overlooked. He ranks second behind Fedorov in most points (1,032) as a Russian star. He was over a point-per-game and won a Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2000. Will he be recognized?

Somewhat curiously, Kovalchuk has 816 points in 816 games. When he returned home to star in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) for St. Petersburg SKA, Kovalchuk was at 417 goals with 399 assists. He last played in the NHL in ’12-13 totaling 11 goals and 31 points in 37 games. He’s still only 32. If he ever returned, 500 goals would be a lock as would 1,000 points. It remains to be seen.

Interestingly, Russia has never produced a Norris winner for top defenseman. They’ve had some excellent ones including former Rangers’ Cup hero Sergei Zubov and former Cap/Pen Sergei Gonchar. Both had superb careers that should be recognized. Gonchar played in 1,301 games for six teams (Caps, Bruins, Pens, Sens, Stars, Habs) totaling 220 goals and 591 assists for 811 points. The 811 are the most ever by a Russian defenseman in the NHL. Gonchar won a Cup with the Pens. He retired last year with Montreal posting a goal and 12 helpers in 45 contests.

Zubov is a two-time Cup winner (’94 Rangers, ’99 Stars) who tallied 152 goals, 619 assists and 771 points in 1,068 games. His last NHL season was ’08-09. Zubov played one season in the KHL with St. Petersburg SKA totaling 42 points (10-32-42) before retiring. He went out the right way.

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Russian Hockey

A decade earlier, I discussed a potential book with a great Devil fan Sue. She pitched the idea of digging deeper into Russian hockey roots. Russia’s influence changed the game with the historic ’72 Summit Series the tip of the iceberg. With more time for other hockey ventures, reexaming Russia is worth looking into.

During the lockout, MSG Network has run hockey specials, including some classic exhibitions between the Rangers and Russia during the 1970’s. What we got was a rude awakening to just how skilled the Russians were. They were so advanced, using superior conditioning, skating and playmaking to mount an attack. One we weren’t ready for. It makes Canadian hero Paul Henderson that much more special. And also explains why Bobby Clarke simply followed orders with a two-hander breaking Valeri Kharlamov’s ankle. No way would they have come back.

It’s rare that I’ve seen highlights of Kharlamov. However, either by YouTube curiosity and thanks to MSG, I got to see how breathtaking he was. This was a special talent who would’ve brought fans out of their seats had he been able to play in the NHL. There’s no telling how many goals he would’ve scored. A look into how good the Stastnys were with particularly Peter gives us only a glimpse. And we know how great he was. If you haven’t seen the piece on NHL Network about their defection, watch it.

On NBC Sports Network last year, they aired a great documentary on the Summit Series. It gave us more perspective from both sides as far as what they were thinking and strategy. This is a must for any hockey fan.

In my first discovery, hockey was originally called “banty” in Russia. Played in the 1890’s, they used a ball instead of a puck. Ice hockey was introduced in the 1930’s. From my understanding, their version was much different from Canada with the Russians carrying over banty rules.

It wasn’t until the 1950’s that coach Anatoli Tarasov changed their philosophy, turning the CCCP into a powerful unit. They were successful instantly, winning the world championships in ’54 and finishing first in the Olympics in ’56. It was just the beginning with the Soviets taking nine consecutive world championships and winning eight European. Under Tarasov, they took Olympic gold in ’64, ’68 and ’72. Their dominance gave them the nickname Big Red Machine.

Tarasov also coached CSKA (Central Sports Club of the Army), guiding them to 17 championships. He coached them for 27 years (’47-74). For his contribution, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall Of Fame in 1974 in the builders category. A Kontinental Hockey League division is named after him. The Tarasov Division is one of four in the KHL featuring CSKA Moscow, HC Vityaz, Severstal Cherepovets, HC Sochi, Dynamo Moscow, Topedo Nizhny Novgorod and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.

STYLE OF PLAY: The Russian style of hockey is all about skating, puck possession and play making. As emerging Caps second-year center Evgeny Kuznetsov references in a post he wrote entitled How We Play Hockey in Russia on the Players Tribune, Russian players are taught from a young age to skate, hold onto the puck and pass.

My father teach me, too. First thing, you never look at puck. Eyes always up. Look left, right, forward. You look down, it’s over. Even now, if I look down at puck in a game, my dad let me know about it. He texts me. If I score three goals but I don’t have an assist, he texts me. Because he teach me to be unselfish. You have to play for your partner. This is very Russian, this principle. I guess because of the Red Machine.

But this works only when all five guys working together perfect. If a guy skates in and shoots from blue line without passing, it’s like he doesn’t have respect. That’s how we play in Russia. When I come to America last year to play in NHL, I learn it’s a little different.

Russian hockey is all about skating and skill. One point Kuznetsov mentioned was that if a player dumped the puck in the KHL, they were often benched. It probably helps better explain why some Russian players aren’t as successful in the NHL. There’s a huge difference in philosophy. On a smaller ice surface with less time and space, sometimes the only good play is to dump the puck in rather than risk a turnover at the blue line.

However, Kuznetsov also illustrates the team oriented style the Caps play. Similar to how the defending champion Blackhawks play, they possess the puck and play off each other. It’s resulted in a Eastern Conference best 28-7-2 record with 58 points in 37 games. It’s also worth noting that that puck possession style has won Chicago three Cups in six years. 

Two of the greatest Russian hockey players who can control a game are Sergei Fedorov and Pavel Datsyuk. Ironically, they’ve starred for the same team in Hockeytown for the Red Wings. They followed in the footsteps of countryman Igor Larionov. Aside from the fact they all played together winning Cups in Detroit, what do they all have in common? All three could skate and make plays with the puck. They could each use their speed to back up the D gaining the blue line while circling around looking for open teammates.

Both Larionov (2008) and Fedorov (2015) were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Datsyuk should join them when his career is over. A remarkable two-way player who’s won two Cups and three Selke Trophies as the league’s top defensive forward, the supremely skilled Datsyuk combines great skating and play making with tremendous defensive acumen. Throughout his career, he’s only finished a season with a minus rating once. Like Fedorov, he’s a fantastic skater who makes everyone around him better.

To be honest, Fedorov’s ’93-94 Hart season is still one of the more memorable. He had 56 goals and 64 assists totaling 120 points with a plus-48 rating. He finished second behind Wayne Gretzky in scoring, third in goals trailing countryman Pavel Bure (60) and Brett Hull (57). Fedorov was second to Scott Stevens (+52) in plus/minus leading all NHL forwards. He led the league with 39 goals at even strength and tied for second in game-winning goals with 10.

Until recently, Fedorov held the record for most goals (483) scored by a Russian in the NHL. Alexander Ovechkin passed him this season. Ovechkin currently has 496 and will become the first Russian born player to reach 500. Astonishingly, he’ll do it at only 30. The three-time Hart winner and five-time Rocket Richard winner is writing his own legendary script in Washington.

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Video Of Day: Datsyuk beats Blues in overtime

Pavel Datsyuk had some late heroics in the Red Wings’ 3-2 overtime win over the Blues. He scored the OT winner with 2.2 seconds left. With time winding down, he took a Kyle Quincey pass and quickly fired a wrist shot that sneaked past Blues goalie Brian Elliott short side. It was his 15th of the season.

His goal allowed Detroit to go 4-2-0 on a six-game road trip. For the season, Datsyuk has 15 goals and 17 assists for 32 points in 33 games. Over his last 10 games, he’s 2-7-9 with two game-winners.

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Pavel Datsyuk game-winner versus Oilers

Last week, Pavel Datsyuk netted the game-winner with 34 seconds remaining in a Red Wings’ 4-2 road win over the Oilers at Rexall Place. It came on the power play from Justin Abdelkader and Henrik Zetterberg.

It was Datsyuk’s 14th of the season. In 30 games, he ranks second in team scoring with 30 points (14-16-30) making him a point-per-game. Zetterberg leads with 36 (10-26-36) in 41 contests. Neither Euro Star were selected to the All-Star Game. Starting goalie Jimmy Howard was tabbed. However, a groin injury sustained during Saturday’s 3-1 loss at Washington forced him to injured reserve.

One of the premier teams in the NHL might not have an All-Star representative. No Datsyuk or Zetterberg. Niklas Kronwall was also overlooked. Neither will emerging stars Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar. That’ll change in the future.

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Pavel Datsyuk 2014-15

Pavel Datsyuk

In his 13th season, Pavel Datsyuk continues to play at a high level. The 36-year old Russian puck dynamo has 13 goals and 15 assists totaling 28 points in 27 games for the Red Wings. Despite missing 11 games, he ranks second in team scoring trailing captain Henrik Zetterberg (9-24-33).

Still one of the game’s most skillful forwards, he’ll bring a five-game point streak (1-4-5) into Detroit’s Saturday match at Vancouver. Aside from his scoring, Datsyuk remains one of the most complete players. He’s money on faceoffs winning 57.6 percent in 2014-15 ranking fifth among the league leaders. A puck hawk who pays attention to all three zones, he has 21 takeaways and can pick pocket anyone and start a quick counter attack.

In 851 career games, Datsyuk has 832 points (285-547-832). At nearly a point-per-game with an impressive plus-234 rating along with two Stanley Cups, three Selkes and four Lady Byngs, he is on track for the Hockey Hall Of Fame. Signed through 2016-17, he could be on his final contract. He is making $10 million this season with the numbers decreasing to $7.5 million in ’15-16 and $5 million in ’16-17. His average cap hit is $7.67 million. The highest on the Red Wings with Zetterberg ($6.08 million) coming in second.

Red Wing fans have been lucky to watch Datsyuk, who has followed in the footsteps of Yzerman and Fedorov in a long line of star forwards with Zetterberg joining him. Count your blessings.

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Goal Of Year Candidate: Gustav Nyquist

While most of the accolades go to Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in Hockey Town, there’s a new star emerging for the Red Wings. Gustav Nyquist is one of two of the next generation who are leading the club in goalscoring. He and Tomas Tatar are tied for the team lead with 15 goals. Both also have an identical amount of assists (10) and points (25).

Taken in the fourth round of the 2008 Draft 121st overall, the 25-year old Nyquist is in his second full season. In ’13-14, he broke out with 28 goals and 48 points in 56 games while adding six power play goals and six game-winners. Another in the long line of Swedes Detroit has produced, he’s picked it up lately with six points (1-5-6) in his last four games. He’s been a bit streaky so far. However, his talent is undeniable.

In Detroit’s 3-2 overtime win at Ottawa on 12/27, Nyquist scored perhaps the Goal Of The Year. Circling around the Ottawa zone three times with the puck like a magnet, he won the game in overtime with a twisted wrister. It takes amazing strength and skating to pull off what he did. It reminded me of Alexei Kovalev and of course Datsyuk. There’s plenty more to come from Nyquist and Tatar, who’s a 24-year old Czech the Wings selected in the second round back in 2009. Indeed, the future is bright for the Winged Wheel.

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Datsyuk to miss Bruins game due to concussion

Even the best players get hurt. Unfortunately for Red Wings star forward Pavel Datsyuk, he suffered a concussion during the club’s 4-2 home loss to the Senators on Nov. 23. The video shows Ottawa defenseman Jared Cowen catching a ducking Datsyuk with an elbow right to the jaw. There was no penalty and Cowen wasn’t disciplined by the NHL. Hard to fathom even if it wasn’t intentional.

Datsyuk missed Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Sabres. He won’t play tonight when the Bruins visit Joe Louis Arena. Following tonight, Detroit visits the Islanders on Black Friday. That’ll be their final game of November. A month that’s been a struggle with the team struggling on home ice. They’re 4-4-6 having dropped several in shootouts.

Henrik Zetterberg leads the Wings in scoring with 28 points (10-18-28) and a plus-10 rating. Datsyuk ranks second with 24 including a team high 12 goals including five PPG. He’ll miss his second game of the season. Vet Daniel Alfredsson is third with 16 points (4-12-16).

Swedish backup Jonas Gustavsson gets his second straight start. With Jimmy Howard struggling in the first year of a six-year contract, the Monster has played well going 5-0-1 with a 2.35 GAA and .926 save percentage. The Red Wings are 11-7-7 with 29 points. They’re tied in points with the Maple Leafs and are fourth in the Atlantic. Boston leads the division with 34 which also is best in the East.

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Jagr’s OT winner ties Howe’s record

A night removed from forcing overtime in an emotional Devil win over Anaheim, Jaromir Jagr was at it again. Number 68 scored the OT winner to lift New Jersey to a 2-1 victory over the Kings. He took a Marek Zidlicky feed and toe dragged around Ben Scrivens to tuck home his team best ninth at 2:30 of overtime.

The goal made history with Jagr’s NHL record 18th overtime clincher matching Gordie Howe’s all-time record for game-winning goals with 121. Not only did the 41-year old legend accomplish that feat but he also tied former Pens’ teammate Mario Lemieux for ninth all-time with 690 goals.

Signed as a free agent by New Jersey to help replace Ilya Kovalchuk, Jagr has been nothing short of spectacular pacing the Devils in goals (9), points (18), plus/minus (10) and shots-on-goal (50). With Damien Brunner a healthy scratch due to a 10-game goal drought, Michael Ryder without a goal in six straight and Ryane Clowe still on IR, Jagr has been the driving force offensively. With four goals over his last three and seven points (5-2-7) in the past six, Jagr has sparked the Devils to five wins over six.

After a slow start, they’re back to NHL .500 at 9-9-5 with 23 points. Good for third in the Metro a point ahead of the Rangers. At this point in Jagr’s career, it’s pretty amazing. The biggest question is can he keep it up. Nobody knows the answer. Without him, it’s a safe bet that the Devils would be in the lottery. Instead, they’re thinking playoffs early.

With Jagr and Martin Brodeur sharing the spotlight, it adds more proof that Legends Never Die.

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