Pavel Datsyuk spoke with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey about what Datsyuk believes is a lack of creativity in professional hockey today:
“There are not many creative players now,” Datsyuk said after Team Russia’s World Cup of Hockey practice Sunday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry. “It’s less and less every year. There’s lots of talent, but teams are playing more systems.”
“Hockey is so different now,” said Datsyuk, who has fared no worse than 53.4 percent on faceoffs in any season of his career. “With the new rules in the NHL, you have to be good defensively. And, if you play fast, you have more time to work offensively.”
Crosby would not argue. Nobody needs to waste time pointing out Crosby’s ability to play a speed game, but his defensive prowess has picked up in recent years. His SA60 has dropped from 31.99 in 2008-09 to 29.04 in 2015-16, his Goals Against Per 60 Minutes (GA60) went from 2.76 to 2.17.
That’s not quite Datsyuk territory, but it’s impressive nonetheless. And Datsyuk, who already has four goals and seven points in six KHL games, has noticed. Told of Crosby’s admiration for his game, Datsyuk seemed taken aback and expressed honest appreciation before offering his feelings on Crosby.
“I respect him, too,” said Datsyuk, who has 314 career goals and 918 points in 953 NHL games. “When I look at him, he’s not a big guy, but he really competes. He finds spots to score. He doesn’t ever give up and he finishes every shift.”
Crosby and Datsyuk will meet at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Consol Energy Center for the second game of a World Cup exhibition doubleheader featuring Team Russia and Team Canada. North America and the Czech Republic square off at 3:30. The actual World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, which runs through the end of the month, figures to be Datsyuk’s final action on North American soil.
“You never know when it might be your last game,” Datsyuk said somewhat cryptically. “But it will be good to come back and touch base with NHL fans.”