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Notes: Helm and his line clicking; Howard back in net

Nyquist is having a good start to season; Wings leading league in fights

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT - When Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill put together the line of Gustav Nyquist, Darren Helm and Thomas Vanek, he was hoping they could produce some offense.

But he never envisioned how quickly they would jell as a unit.

Through the first five games, the trio has accounted for 16 points.

"I would say that I have confidence in all three guys in their unique abilities that it could be a good line," Blashill said. "Obviously we put it together but you never know for sure."

Nyquist has one goal and four assists, Helm has Four goals and one assist and Vanek has three goals and three assists.

"He's definitely very smart, same with Gus," Helm said. "They're just really good players. Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don't with linemates. Right now it seems like we're clicking and finding ways to score some goals. It's not like that all the time. Sometimes you have to play months at a time to find that chemistry. We seemed to have picked it up pretty quickly and it's been fun playing with those guys."

The most surprising part about the scoring might be Helm's four goals. Last year he didn't score his fourth goal until the 44th game of the season, Jan. 23 against the Anaheim Ducks.

"Puck just seems to be going in right now," Helm said. "Very happy that it's doing that. I'm playing with some pretty good players as well, giving me a lot of opportunities to shoot the puck and getting me good looks. Just having fun right now."

This past July, Helm signed a new five-year contract worth $19.25 million with an average annual value of $3.85 million.

"It was nice signing the deal and it's nice to be able to do something with that contract, show that I deserved it," Helm said. "Hopefully I can continue to play well enough and deserve that deal."

NYQUIST GOAL: Blashill had plenty of praise for Nyquist during the preseason and Nyquist's strong play has continued.

Nyquist had three assists in the first four games and got another on Justin Abdelkader's power-play goal in the first period Friday.

Then in the third period, Nyquist finally scored his first goal of the season, the insurance goal that made it 4-2 over the Nashville Predators.

"I think Helmer's doing a good job forechecking, I'm back-checking," Nyquist said. "They lose control of it and I managed to get the puck in a good spot where the D-man is trying to go on offense, so I came in alone and it was nice to see it go in."

Although Blashill can tell players they're doing fine even if they're not scoring, it's always nice to get that first one out of the way.

"I think Nyquie's had a real good year so far, I think he's played really well," Blashill said. "The only game I would say that he wasn't quite as on top of as I'd like was the Rangers, I thought he came back with a real good showing tonight. I've been really happy with Nyquie's compete level, I've been real happy with Nyquie's effort. When he competes like that, he's been a real good player and he's been a real good player for us overall."

HOWARD BACK IN: Jimmy Howard, who stole the 2-1 game against the New York Rangers Wednesday, is back in goal tonight against the San Jose Sharks.

"What we talked about the other night, you're going to need both goalies kicking this year, especially with the condensed schedule," Howard said. "So it's good to get back in there."

Petr Mrazek played Friday against the Predators.

Howard knows the Sharks well from the Wings' days in the Western Conference.

"(Joe) Thornton, (Patrick) Marleau, (Brent) Burns. You name it," Howard said. "You go up and down their lineup, they got players at every aspect. It's going to take another full 60-minute every by every guy in this dressing room."

Burns, a defenseman, is tied for the league league in scoring with Boston's Brad Marchand with nine points. 

FIGHTING WINGS: It's an uncommon sight to see the Wings leading the league in fighting majors.

Yet that's the case so far this season as they have five fights in five games.

"We were just talking about that this morning," Howard said, laughing. "If you would have said that we'd be leading the league in majors at this point in the season we'd all tell you're lying."

While Justin Abdelkader and Brendan Smith have been known to fight, Jonathan Ericsson and his two fights are a little more unusual.

Then there's Dylan Larkin, who fought Nashville's Yannick Weber for the first bout of his entire hockey career.

"He did a great job," Howard said. "It was fun to see. I think the building was more loud for him fighting than they were for the goals. It's great to see."

Although Blashill doesn't really want his young forward to fight too often, he thought it was good in this instance.

"I was wondering if he was trying out for a Bruise Brothers spot here," Blashill said. "We've talked about sticking up for each other but you also have to stick up for yourself sometimes and over the last two years he's taken lots of abuse so I thought he did a good job, good for him."

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