Pavel Datsyuk practices Tuesday, says he'll play in Russia's first game

Datsyuk is playing in his fourth Olympic Games for Russia. (Getty Images)
Datsyuk is playing in his fourth Olympic Games for Russia. (Getty Images)

We can step down on the Pavel Datsyuk watch for Team Russia, he's going to play.

The drama kicked up about Datsyuk's availablity after the Russian coach said he might replace Datsyuk if he weren't completely healthy coming into the Olympic Games. That was only exascerbated when Datsyuk missed the Russian practice on Monday.

Well fear not, Datsyuk will play. He was on the ice on Tuesday to practice with his countrymen and afterward said he's good to go in almost the exact way you'd expect from him.

Going with the mind over matter approach, Datsyuk will not surprisingly play for Russia, the idea of him missing was unthinkable. But just because he's trying to forget he has been dealing with an injury doesn't mean that he won't still play like he's dealing with a lower-body injury that cost him more than a month of action with the Red Wings.

Even if he's not completely healthy, though, Datsyuk is critical for Russia's chances in this tournament. Not only is he the team captain and a veteran in the NHL and internationally but he's a heck of a player, as if that needs to be said. The Olympic hosts will keep their fingers crossed that this is the last we talk about Datsyuk's health.

Russia will open the tournament on Thursday against Anze Kopitar's Slovenia team before facing the USA in Group A play on Saturday.

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