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DeKeyser, Helm back for Red Wings vs. Canadiens

by Sean Farrell

RED WINGS (3-1-0) at CANADIENS (5-0-0)


MONTREAL -- Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser and forward Darren Helm will make their season debuts against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

DeKeyser was injured in a preseason game Sept. 30 and the prognosis was he would miss 3-4 weeks with sprained ligaments in his left foot.

"I just kind of took it as it went," DeKeyser said. "Every day it felt a little bit better, so I was able to do a little bit more and be back a little bit earlier than expected."

Helm has been sidelined since he sustained a concussion on the first day of training camp. He spoke with coach Jeff Blashill after the Red Wings held a lightly-attended optional morning skate and pronounced himself ready to face Montreal.

"We were just waiting to see how things felt [Friday] night, [Saturday] morning, and things feel good so I'm good to go," Helm said.

Detroit lost for the first time in four games Friday, 5-3 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

"They're a motivated team right now," Montreal captain Max Pacioretty said. "They've got a new coach and it's the first change that they've had in a while, so they're obviously playing motivated hockey, and coming off a tough loss that they're obviously disappointed with."

The Canadiens set a team record for their best start to a season when they improved to 5-0-0 with a 3-0 win against the New York Rangers on Thursday in their 98th NHL home opener.

"I think there's multiple reasons why they've had lots of success," Blashill said. "Obviously, Carey Price is one of the best goalies in the world. They have a [defense] corps that is very good, that is also very active getting into the rush in the [offensive] zone, and they have a number of good forwards as well now. And they also have a plan of how they want to play and they seem to be all on the same page, so it's not a surprise to me that they're 5-0 and we're going to have to play a really good hockey game here."

Montreal's best start through six games is five wins and a tie, a feat they accomplished four times, most recently in 1977-78.

"It's hard to believe that we did something that no other Montreal Canadiens team has done, but no one really knew about it until after the game, so that's not something that we were overly concerned with," right wing Brendan Gallagher said after a rare morning skate at Bell Centre for the Canadiens, who usually practice at their suburban training facility. "Obviously we want to get wins and we want to get results, but there are more important things for us to be worrying about right now, and certainly that starts with [Saturday]."

Canadiens coach Michel Therrien will use the same lineup, aside from backup goalie Mike Condon's NHL debut Sunday, for a sixth game in a row.

Therrien has essentially kept the same four lines and three defense pairs together, and will not make any changes to start against the Red Wings.

"It's nice. You don't expect them to stay together for a full 82 games, but right now they're going well and there's no need to change them," Gallagher said. "Every line's contributing and every line's feeling good about themselves, so it's definitely nice to be able to stick together, especially early on. Every line has kind of been together since training camp started. We've kind of built that chemistry that way and I think that's been big for us. Every game it's a new line that's been stepping up and playing the role of hero, so it's good to see and it's definitely tough to play against as well."

Here are the projected lineups:


Justin Abdelkader - Henrik Zetterberg - Dylan Larkin

Riley Sheahan - Brad Richards - Tomas Tatar

Gustav Nyquist - Luke Glendening - Teemu Pulkkinen

Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Joakim Andersson

Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson

Danny DeKeyser - Mike Green

Kyle Quincey - Jakub Kindl

Petr Mrazek

Jimmy Howard

Injured: Pavel Datsyuk (ankle), Johan Franzen (concussion-like symptoms)

Scratched: Brendan Smith, Landon Ferraro, Tomas Jurco


Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

Lars Eller - Alex Galchenyuk - Alexander Semin

Tomas Fleischmann - David Desharnais - Dale Weise

Brian Flynn - Torrey Mitchell - Devante Smith-Pelly

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin - Jeff Petry

Nathan Beaulieu - Tom Gilbert

Carey Price

Mike Condon

Injured: None

Scratched: Greg Pateryn, Jarred Tinordi, Paul Byron

Status report: Mrazek will make his second start and face Montreal for the first time. He made 44 saves in a 4-3 win at the Carolina Hurricanes a week earlier. Helm said after meeting with Blashill that he will start the game on a line with Miller and Andersson, who will make his season debut. Smith and Ferraro will be healthy scratches for the first time this season. … Pateryn, Tinordi and Byron have yet to play.

Who's hot: Larkin has a goal and four assists during his four-game point streak. Pulkkinen has three goals in his past three games. … Price has 111 saves on 116 shots for a .957 save percentage, in four starts. Fleischmann scored for a second game in a row and had an assist Thursday.

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