DETROIT – Darren Helm is getting closer to rejoining the Red Wings’ lineup, though he may wait until the weekend before he makes his season debut.
“Just got to talk to doc,” said Helm, who has been out since he suffered a concussion and a slightly separated shoulder Sept. 18.
Helm said he planned to speak to University of Michigan neurologist Jeffrey Kutcher on Monday afternoon to “voice a few concerns and see what everyone thinks and then make a decision after that.”
Practicing Monday morning at Joe Louis Arena, Helm skated – sans the gray ‘no-contact’ jersey – on the fourth line with center Luke Glendening and forward Drew Miller.
“I was practicing as if I were good to play tomorrow,” Helm said.
But coach Jeff Blashill isn’t willing to insert the speedy center into the lineup just yet.
“As of today he’s still on the IR,” Blashill said. “We’ll make that decision probably tomorrow. I have not talked to Helm since after practice, but he’s certainly getting close.”
According to Helm, the shoulder is no longer a concern, though he was less forthcoming about possible lingering neurological effects from the head-to-head collision he had with Jerome Verrier in the opening minutes of last month’s training camp in Traverse City.
“Every day’s been feeling pretty good,” Helm said. “On the ice I feel good. Playing a little bit slower and not as quick mentally as I usually like to be at this part of the season, but that’s part of getting injured early.”
Helm would like to get into Tuesday’s lineup when the Red Wings host Tampa Bay at Joe Louis Arena. But he also sees the benefit of waiting a few more days to make his season debut.
“Absolutely there’s a benefit,” he said. “There’s also a benefit of me getting in there and getting into game mode quicker than possible. So we just got to weigh the pros and cons and see what’s the best choice for myself and the team and move on from there.”
Center - DET
Goals: 0 | Assists: 0 | Pts: 0
Shots: 3 | +/-: -1
Last April, then head coach Mike Babcock assigned his fourth line – anchored by Glendening – to shadow the Lightning’s Tyler Johnson line.
Glendening was a constant thorn in the Lightning center’s side during the first-round playoff series, which Tampa Bay eventually won in seven games. The damage that Johnson did was late in Game 4 after Glendening suffered a lacerated thumb.
But Blashill isn’t sure how he’ll use his matchups on Tuesday.
“I feel comfortable with a few different combinations against Johnson’s line,” he said. “It’s a very good line. (Steven) Stamkos is a very good line. The other think that Tampa has is really good depth in scoring. I can’t remember exact number, but (Brian) Boyle had a number of goals. They have good scoring throughout their lineup and at times they score easy.
“In particular to Johnson and Glendening, I have great confidence to put Glendening on the ice against any player in the league. I think that’s the type of playing Glennie is, he does a great job in those situations. If that’s how the game goes and that’s the right match for us I’ll do that. I kind of play that out. I go in with a plan. The one thing I want to make sure is that matchups don’t hurt our energy management, don’t hurt any momentum we have. Instead of singular matches, double matches where I feel good with one or two different lines.”
Glendening is certainly no stranger to Johnson. The two went head-to-head for their respective AHL clubs, Grand Rapids and Syracuse, in the 2013 Calder Cup.
“He’s a dynamic player, highly skilled, ton of speed, works hard and is an honest player,” Glendening said. “He does things the right way, that’s for sure.”
Goalie - DET
GAA: 0.00 | Sv%: 1.000
Blashill said that goalie Jimmy Howard
will start Tuesday’s game against Tampa Bay.
Howard made 22 saves in recording his 21st career shutout on Friday, blanking Toronto 4-0 in the team’s season opener at Joe Louis Arena.
Petr Mrazek will get his second start of the season this weekend in either Friday’s home game against Carolina or Saturday at Montreal.
With so many back-to-back games in October and November, Blashill has said he plans to platoon his goaltenders in the early going.
Center - DET
Goals: 1 | Assists: 2 | Pts: 3
Shots: 10 | +/-: 6
With Helm set to come off of injured reserve soon, and Danny DeKeyser
(foot) and Pavel Datsyuk
(ankle) to follow, Blashill was asked Monday how he intends to handle Dylan Larkin
Larkin and defenseman Alexey Marchenko are the current players on the Wings’ roster that can be sent to AHL Grand Rapids without first having to clear waivers.
“It’s very much dictated on how he plays,” Blashill said of Larkin. “Both Ken Holland and I have said as long as he helps us win games then it’s the right thing to do for him. At some point if we felt like it was hurting his development and he wasn’t helping us win games we’d look at other options. He always has the option to go to Grand Rapids, but so far … we didn’t keep him because he’s a good young prospect, but we kept him because we felt as a player he helps our hockey team be better.”
The rookie forward is third in team scoring with a goal and two assists in the first two games of the season. His 10 shots on goal leads the Wings, and his plus-6 rating is tied with Montreal’s Andrei Markov for the league lead.
As long as Larkin continues to make an impact he’ll likely remain in Detroit.
“I don’t think he’s points driven where his confidence is strictly through his points,” Blashill said. “Some guys are points driven if they’re not scoring or getting points their confidence really dips. That doesn’t seem to affect him.
“His game is much deeper than that that’s one of the reasons he can be effective in the NHL at such a young age. We’ll see. You never know what the future brings, but I don’t see any signs of that at all. I can use him in lots of different situations. I can use him on the wing, at center, can be in offensive and defensive roles and can be very effective, so far so good.”