Detroit Red Wings: The Pavel Datsyuk Statistical Effect


The Detroit Red Wings’ superstar Russian center has been a firm fan favorite since he first hit the Detroit ice in 2002. His stick skills are among the best in the league, the puck seemingly magnetic when in his possession. Take a look around the Joe on game night and you’ll see a sea of #13 jerseys.

Having lifted the cup twice with Detroit, there’s no doubt that Pavel Datsyuk is a future Hall of Famer, and a likely candidate to have his number retired and hoisted to the rafters.

But what effect did Datsyuk have on the ice? In the 2014-15 regular season, he missed 19 games and at time of writing, is still recovering from ankle surgery and may not start the 2015-16 season.

While it’s difficult to gauge the morale boost the team gets from Datsyuk being on the ice, we can look at the team’s performance with and without Pavel. Before we do that, let’s break down Datsyuk’s performance for the season.

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Of the 63 games that Datsyuk played, he scored points in 42, averaging 1.03 points per game. He was Detroit’s second highest points scorer during the regular season. Left wing Henrik Zetterberg tallied 66 to Datsyuk’s 65. He was far and away the most productive of the eight centers who had ice time for Detroit. Riley Sheahan was second best with 36 points.

In the playoffs, Datsyuk played all seven games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring points five points in four games. He had three games where he did not get on the scoreboard.


In the regular season, Datsyuk scored 26 goals, the 14th highest center in the league, although the 13 skaters above him all played more games. In Detroit, he was the most prolific center and third highest on the team.

Post season, Datsyuk found the net three times against the Lightning, topping the table along with Tomas Tatar.


In his 63 regular season games, Datsyuk assisted on 39 goals. Only team captain Zetterberg assisted on more (49). Again, he was Detroit’s best center in this statistic.

In the playoffs though, Darren Helm assisted on three goals to Datsyuk’s two. This is the only stat that Datsyuk hasn’t led amongst centers.

Statistically Datsyuk is a key part of the Detroit machine when he’s on the ice, but we’ve always know that. So how does the team perform in his absence? In the 2014-15 season, Detroit played 19 games, almost a quarter of the regular season without the center. Here are the Red Wings’ tallies with and without Datsyuk:

With: 34-20-9. 

Without: 9-6-4.

That’s a win percentage of 53.9% with Datsyuk playing compared to 47.3% without. The loss percentage changes from 46.0% to 52.6% when Datsyuk isn’t on the ice.

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Simply put, the Detroit Red Wings win more and lose less when Datsyuk is playing. Not exactly ground-breaking news. What is pleasantly surprising is how much every other player steps up in Datsyuk’s absence.

While the contribution from the centers is important, 82 of Detroit’s regular season goals came from the left wing compared to 79 from the center. The right wing scored 38. Some may resent Mike Babcock for leaving at the end of last season, but he put together some productive lines.

What effect does Datsyuk have on the Detroit Red Wings? A sizable one. He creates options and generates goals through his passing and puck control. Detroit can cope with Datsyuk for short periods, he missed the first five games on the 2014-15 season, as well as a further 14 games after that and the team still made the postseason.

What do you think? Does Detroit’s future success depend on Datsyuk? Or does the team have enough talent to move on without him? Let us know your thoughts below.

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