Pavel Datsyuk will not be playing in Team Russia’s must-win contest against Team Finland on Thursday because of a minor injury, according to ESPN’s Joe McDonald.
Pavel Datsyuk has a "small injury" and "at this moment he is not ready to play," according to Russia assistant coach Harijs Vitolinsh.
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) September 22, 2016
Datsyuk is out with a reported lower-body injury, according to NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti. Datsyuk’s injury should allow forward Vadim Shipachyov back into the Russian starting lineup, according to Gulitti.
While Datsyuk’s specific injury is unknown, his absence from Russia’s roster could not come at a worse time.
After Team Russia edged Team North America 4-3 on Monday to stay alive in the 2016 World Cup, and Team North America beat Team Sweden 4-3 in Wednesday’s overtime thriller, Thursday’s game against Finland has become a “win or go home” matchup. If the Russians are able to defeat Finland, they will advance to the semifinals. If the Finnish team wins, Team North America will advance in the best-on-best tournament and Russia is out.
Datsyuk, 38, has been a veteran presence on a Russian team that enters Thursday’s game against Finland with a 1-1 record after losing its first contest to Team Sweden 2-1. Datsyuk has been skating on a line with Alexander Ovechkin and Nikita Kucherov— one of Russia’s most productive combinations during the tournament. Datsyuk’s injury may give Evgeny Kuznetsov the chance to play on the top line alongside Ovechkin, his teammate on the Washington Capitals.
The puck drops on Thursday’s game between Russia and Finland at 3:00 pm ET.
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