Rookie forward Darren Helm
will replace Mark Hartigan, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said following the team’s morning skate.
“He’s fast,” Babcock said of the rookie. “We had lots of good territorial play last game; we just felt a little more speed in, and he can really skate.”
Helm played in seven games for the Red Wings this season, all in March and April. Against Columbus on April 6, Helm played 21 shifts, logging 15:14 of ice time and finished a plus-1.
“There’s two ways to look at it, you can say he’s a kid and whoa, it’s a huge game in the Stanley Cup playoffs,” Babcock said. “And yet he’s played in the (Canadian Hockey League) Memorial Cup, he’s played at the World Juniors, and we thought, not me I never saw him, Ken Holland and Jim Nill and (Grand Rapids Griffins coach) Mike Stothers, thought he was a high, high-end by the end by the end of the American Hockey League and so we played him the last couple games of the year and thought he was good.”
Hartigan, who was a member of Anaheim's Stanley Cup team last spring, has one assist in four playoff games this month with the Red Wings.
Though the Stanley Cup playoffs will be uncharted territory for Helm, he has shown success in the highest stages of junior hockey. He led the Medicine Hat Tigers to a Western Hockey League playoff championship and a second-place finish in the Memorial Cup during the 2006-07 season, scoring the lone goal for the Tigers in the cup final. In his three seasons at Medicine Hat, Helm recorded 76 goals and 52 assists for 167 points in 201 games, and piled up 119 penalty minutes.
The St. Andrews, Manitoba native also represented his country in the 2007 World Juniors championship, scoring two goals in six games en route to a fourth-straight Team Canada gold medal.
“I’m definitely going to be pretty nervous, and pretty excited too, my first playoff game here,” the 21-year-old Helm said. “It’s a big game so I’m going to be preparing pretty hard this afternoon and hopefully be ready to play tonight.”
Helm said the seven Red Wings games he played in this season should help him feel more comfortable for tonight’s game.
“I think it helps out, the games I played take the nerves out of me,” he said. “It’s a lot more comfortable being around the guys being in the dressing room, just being on the ice in practice. I know what I kind of have to do, and now I can go and do it.”
The rookie center will be surrounded by veterans for his first NHL playoff game. Helm said that he will be skating between Dallas Drake and Darren McCarty, who have played in a combined 233 postseason games.
“I think I’ve got a lot of speed, I can use that to my advantage,” Helm said. “Get the pucks in deep and play in their zone as much as I can, grind it out and play hard in their zone.”