SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The Russians are resting Pavel Datsyuk, hoping he'll be healthy enough to play in their Sochi Games opener.
Russia practiced Monday afternoon — for the first time since NHL players arrived— and Datsyuk was the only skater not on the ice.
The Detroit Red Wings have said Datsyuk has a lower-body injury. That kept him out of the lineup for more than a month before he returned to play sparingly in Detroit's last two games before the Olympic break.
Datsyuk's ailment appears to be an injured left knee.
"I don't think it's a serious problem, dangerous," Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said through an interpreter. "I think he's going to be OK."
Asked if the team's captain would play in its first game against Slovenia on Thursday, Bilyaletdinov replied in English, "I hope."
The Russians, though, may opt to rest Datsyuk for the relatively meaningless game against Slovenia to give him more time to heal before Saturday's showdown against the U.S.
At the 2006 Olympics, Sweden's Peter Forsberg sat out Sweden's first two games because of a groin injury after missing Philadelphia's final eight games before the break. He returned for one game in the preliminary round, missed the next one and then came back to help the Swedes win gold.
Even if Datsyuk is not 100 percent healthy, teammate Alex Ovechkin said the forward will be able to help the host country at both ends of the ice.
"I think it doesn't matter if he's going to be healthy or if he's going to be in not that good shape," Ovechkin said. "He's still Datsyuk. He still make unbelievable plays and he still play well on D, defensive zone and offensive zone."