(Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
If you talk to NHL players about the cream of the crop in the best hockey league on earth, you'll find Wings star Pavel Datsyuk's name mentioned often. And Tuesday in Game 3 of Detroit's first-round series with Tampa Bay, Datsyuk showed why he's so revered by fellow players – scoring on a slick, end-to-end rush without his stick touching the ice.
Red Wings superstar Pavel Datsyuk is the favorite player of many an NHLer and former NHLer, because where other players are trying just to keep up on the ice, No. 13 of Detroit almost seems like he's toying with his opponents at times. A good example of his brand of brilliance came in Game 3 Tuesday of the Wings' first-round series against Tampa Bay, when he scored the game's first goal on a slick give-and-go with teammate Tomas Tatar...and Datsyuk's well-positioned skate.
The teams were nearing the midway mark of the first period at Joe Louis Arena when Datsyuk carried the puck from behind his own blueline, through the neutral zone, then passed the puck to Tatar at Tampa's blueline. And when Tatar fired a slap shot toward the net, Datsyuk somehow managed to keep his skate in a perfect position to redirect the puck past Bolts goalie Ben Bishop:
Now, the play may not have been totally intentional, but the fact some in the hockey world will see the 36-year-old Datsyuk score a goal like that – without his stick on the ice and with no distinct kicking motion – and wonder whether he may have done it on purpose says a lot about the level of respect his game commands.