Rambler's Top100

30 2006 . 
Wings not too concerned about Datsyuk's goal drought.

By Ansar Khan

DETROIT -- Pavel Datsyuk has gone 13 games without a goal, as he continues to overplay the puck and not shoot nearly as often as the Detroit Red Wings would like.

But, Wings coach Mike Babcock believes it's premature to panic.

"We don't feel this is a crisis situation,'' Babcock said. "And yet, don't get me wrong, your best players have to be your best players for you to be successful, and we challenge him and support him in making that happen for himself.

"This year hasn't gone, offensively, the way you would like, the way he would like or the way I would like for him. In saying all that, we're at Game 23. ''

Datsyuk has just three goals in 23 games, a pace that would net him 11 for the season. He hasn't scored since Oct. 27 in Dallas.

Part of the problem is the Wings' league-worst power-play conversion (10.5 percent), which has hamstrung the whole team offensively.

"I think the power play not generating offense has hurt his point totals,'' Babcock said. "A couple of weeks ago, (Henrik) Zetterberg was on pace for a 10-goal year. That's why you play 82 games; you let things work their way out. ''

Babcock was asked if he considered playing Datsyuk and Zetterberg together like he often did last season. They've been paired together on the power play and penalty-killing units, but rarely at even-strength.

"We feel they're real good centers and that's our best situation,'' Babcock said. "Our best winning percentage is when we have three centers in (Robert) Lang, Datsyuk and Zetterberg, and as much as you're focusing in on someone's points, I'm focusing in on the team's points.

"Can I load up one line and guarantee each one of those individuals finishes the year with more points? Yeah, but that's not the focus.'' 

Wings not too concerned about Datsyuk's goal drought

Datsyuk's focus is getting more shots, rather than trying to stickhandle around a slew of defenders. He's 11th on the team with 37 shots, an average of 1.61 per game, down from his modest average of 1.93 last season.

"It's hard to get one or two shots a night and think you can score,'' Wings general manager Ken Holland said.

"I've been told that a lot, `Pavel shoot the puck,' '' Datsyuk said. "I think this year maybe I haven't believed in my shot. I haven't shot and there's nothing happening from my passing. I need to shoot it more from everywhere. '' 

He insists he's not distracted by his contract situation. The Wings broke off talks after each side rejected a proposal from the other.

"It's hard to talk contract now when I'm not scoring and nothing happens when I pass,'' Datsyuk said.

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