PITTSBURGH -- While Detroit Red Wings Coach Mike Babcock was telling the media that Pavel Datsyuk(notes), rather than Babcock, will make the decision on his participation for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Datsyuk was still participating in a marathon practice session on the Mellon Arena ice.
"When he feels he's ready to go, and that foot allows him to have some pop, he's playing," said Babcock, who announced that Kris Draper(notes) will be in for Justin "Afro Gator" Abdelkader tonight. "I'm not making the decision. When Pavs is ready, he's playing."
So is Pavs ready? He met the media in the Red Wings locker room. Here's a quick transcript with truncated questions and glorious broken English answers, as Datsyuk discusses his recovery from a foot injury that's kept him out of the Finals. And also beer:
Q. Can you tell us how you feel?
DATSYUK: I feel much better today. I think I'll go in the pregame skates and make a decision for sure. But it's more better.
Can you put a percentage on it?
Percentage? ... I don't give a percentage.
Why did you skate so long this morning?
I just feel it, more confidence. I don't skate for two weeks and I needed to pick up more ice, feel it. Just do more dangle, shoot it. I just tried to.
Are you encouraged?
Yeah, yeah. I don't skate two weeks, it was a little bit hard for me.
Are you going to play?
I don't know. Not sure. I just go for sure in the pregame skate and then make a decision from there.
Has coach told you it's up to you to make the decision?
You skated so long to test it?
Yeah. During the game, it's longer [skating], so I wanted to feel more like it's going to be [skating] a little bit longer.
You skated a little extra yesterday. How did it respond?
It's better. Better in the morning. But it's one long practice. I needed more. I feel more confidence now.
How is your conditioning?
Condition? Eh, it's close. It's a different condition off ice than on ice. It's different, especially when it's the Final and you're on the ice with a good team. It's a little bit tough for starting.
What problems are you still having with it?
I don't score for like 12 games. This is problems. (Laughter)
No, with the foot.
Foot, OK. It's more better. Can more turn. What I need is quick turn, give and go.
Has there been improvement, even from yesterday?
Yeah. Every day, better, better and better. Today, much better. More [feeling] now. More smile, more happy. Still a little bit sore, but it's fine.
If you play, will you have a more limited role on the ice?
It depends how I feel. Like I said yesterday: If the game is 60 minutes, I want to play 60 minutes. I try to keep every shift short.
Was there any other injury besides the foot?
Yeah, I don't score 12 games and it hurt me. (Laughter)
Has there been any indication on who wouldn't play if you play?
I don't know. No idea.
Any beer last night?
No game. No beer.
You only drink when there's a game?
Honest, yes. (Laughs) No.