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Wings set up for playoff run sans Helm

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Center - DET
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0

SOG: 1 | +/-: 0
DETROIT – It appears that the Red Wings will have to finish the remainder of the season without their speedy third-line center Darren Helm.

As Helm continues to recover from lower back pain that has held him out of all but one game this season, Wings coach Mike Babcock wasn’t sounding very hopeful on Tuesday that the 26-year-old will return this season.

“He's not going to play hockey, right, this year, I don't think,” Babcock said. “We got to get ourselves in the playoffs and be ready to go without him.”

Helm, who suffered the injury while lifting weights as part of his conditioning a few days before the start of the team’s training camp in mid-January, isn’t giving up hope – at least not yet.

“I'm trying to stay positive,” Helm said. “I think my spirits are a little bit higher than they have been. It feels better but still can't really put any time on what's going on.”

The ordeal has been frustrating for everyone associated with the team, especially Helm. He’s met with a few different back specialists, including one in New York, and all have agreed that there isn’t any structural damage to the vertebrae, though there is a small tear in a disc, which has caused inflammation.

Helm has been skating on his own at Joe Louis Arena; and hasn’t made the last two road trips with the team, choosing to stay behind so he wouldn’t aggravate the injury.

“I've been skating for a while, working out for a while, working really hard, said Helm, who seemed ready to return to the lineup before he experienced another setback in mid-March. “It's just that I still feel pain, feel a lot of discomfort. I don't know if one day I'll wake up and feel great or it's going to be kind of gradual thing.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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