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Helm's anxious to get going

Third line center hopes to play Friday against the Wild

Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 3:14 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Helm\'s anxious to get going
Darren Helm hopes to bring some energy to the Red Wings' lineup as one of the best third line center in the league. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

DETROIT – It’s been a long, agonized layoff for center Darren Helm, who hasn’t consistently been in the Red Wings’ lineup since suffering a sprained knee last St. Patrick’s Day.

Since the knee injury in San Jose, it’s been one bad turn after another for the 26-year-old Winnipeg native.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been healthy,” Helm said. “From the end of last year to the lockout and even at the start of this year I started out hurt. I’m anxious to get out there, excited and when they give me the go ahead I’ll be even more excited.”

It’s expected that Helm will return to the lineup when the Wings host the Minnesota Wild on Friday night. It will be the first time that he’s been in the lineup since Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals. In that he game, he suffered a serious cut on the right forearm, which required emergency surgery in Nashville to repair tendon damage.

Injuries continued to follow Helm into the lockout. In November, he was struck in the face by a puck, which fractured a cheekbone, during players’ workout. Then, a week before the Wings’ mini training camp, he had another setback when he injured his lower back.

But now, Helm hopes to put the bounty of injuries in the past as he gets prepared to make his season debut and hopes to provide a spark to the third line.

“I hope I can, it’s going to be tough,” he said. “I missed the last two weeks, but kind of started off where everyone else did, but two weeks late. The last four or five days I’ve been working real hard to get back into that shape. It’s not the same unless you get out there. Workout shape is a lot different than game-shape. It’s going to take a little bit of time, but I think I’ll be right back in there pretty quickly.”

Mike Babcock calls Helm the best third line center in the league. But the Red Wings’ coach knows that it will take some time for Helm to get up to NHL speed and regain that designation as an energy-provider.

“No question, we want Helmer to provide that, but Helmer hasn’t played hockey in eight months,” Babcock said. “So let’s have a little perspective. It’s not like he had all training camp and got tweaked at the end. He hasn’t gone, so he’ll be a work-in-progress.”

While Helm doesn’t expect that the cache of injuries will chance his style of play, he’ll now wear Kevlar socks and arm sleeves.

“I got it, been wearing it,” Helm said. “I don’t notice it. It’s kind of too bad I didn’t wear it before. That’s life, you live and learn. I’ve got a good scar to remind me to keep those things on. It’s not uncomfortable at all. It’s a little warm, but it took a couple of skates, but now it’s alright.”

Besides Helm, Babcock hopes to have forward Todd Bertuzzi (flu) and defenseman Jakub Kindl (groin) are ready to return to the lineup against the Wild on Friday.

“I’m hopeful of that. I mean, the trainers will make that decision,” Babcock said. “They all skated today. I skated them all yesterday myself. And then skated them again today. … Now they have to get ready to play.”

SPLITTING THE EUROS: Hoping to jump-start the Wings’ offense late in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Stars, Babcock separated the tandem of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.

The European stars remained apart during Thursday morning’s practice at Joe Louis Arena as Zetterberg worked with Johan Frazen and Swiss import Damien Brunner, while Datsyuk moved to the second line and skated with Valtteri Filppula and Bertuzzi.

“They haven’t scored, right?” Babcock said. “You just can’t keep doing things the same, you know? They played together here today on the power play, they were apart on regular shifts, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
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11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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