The Malik Report
by George Malik on 10/16/13 at 11:01 AM ET
Updated 5x at 2:57 PM: There's good news on the goaltending front via a demotion this morning...
Sending Mrazek back to Grand Rapids indicates that Jimmy Howard's sore catching hand may have healed to the point that he's able to at least back up Jonas Gustavsson against the unbeaten Avs tomorrow night, if not against Phoenix on Saturday.
Sending Mrazek back to Grand Rapids gives the Griffins their starter ahead of Friday night's Calder Cup Championship banner-raising game against Milwaukee, too.
MLive's Ansar Khan took note of Howard's status:
Howard, who has missed the past two games, apparently will be able to dress as Gustavsson's backup in Thursday's game at Colorado (9 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit) or start the game.
Coach Mike Babcock said after Tuesday's game: “I talked to Howie in between periods, he was icing it, the swelling’s going down in his hand. Does that mean he’s playing in Phoenix (Saturday) or does he play in Colorado? I haven’t talked to the trainer so I don’t know the answer to that.’’
Something tells me that the Wings will be practicing at City Sports Arena today, assuming that they practice at all...
The Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday assigned center Darren Helm to the Grand Rapids Griffins for conditioning.
Helm, 26, has appeared in 249 regular-season games with Detroit since the 2007-08 season, amassing 83 points (32 goals, 51 assists) and 54 penalty minutes. The 5-foot-11, 192-pound forward has also played in 65 playoff games for the Wings, including 18 games during the team’s 2008 Stanley Cup championship run, producing 16 points (10 goals, six assists) and 18 penalty minutes.
Due to various injuries, Helm has only appeared in one game since Apr. 11, 2012.
Before joining the Red Wings, the Winnipeg, Man., native skated in 122 games with the Griffins from 2007-09, tallying 68 points (29 goals, 39 assists) and 54 penalty minutes. Helm ranks among Griffins’ all-time leaders with five shorthanded goals (T-5th) and seven unassisted goals (T-3rd). Helm’s last game as a Griffin was Apr. 11, 2009 at Peoria.
And the Free Press's Helene St. James discussed Helm's comeback attempt:
Helm has been sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins on a conditioning assignment, expected to consist of two games this coming weekend (the Wings will be on the road, Thursday at Colorado and Saturday at Phoenix).
Helm, 26, has not played since Jan. 25, the only game he appeared in during last season's 48-game schedule. He hurt his back doing squats days before training camp, and while he advanced enough to join practices numerous times, he never healed enough to play.
A sore knee cost him the last 10 games of the regular season in 2011-12, and then he suffered a cut to his right forearm one game into the 2012 playoffs, missing the rest of that short series.
He has been sidelined this fall by a pulled groin.
In short, Helm basically hasn't played in the NHL in 18 months. When the troubles set in, he had a secure foothold on the third-line center spot, where he used his speed to make his wingers better, in addition to being a key part of the penalty kill.
That spot now belongs firmly to Joakim Andersson. While he does not have Helm's speed, Andersson is a tremendously smart player and excellent in his own zone. Helm will need time to readjust after missing so much hockey, and would be a better fit to center the fourth line (replacing Luke Glendening) and take shifts on the penalty kill.
Helm was put on long-term injured reserve when this season began, which requires a minimum missed of 10 games or 23 days. The Wings have played seven games and will play their 10th on Monday, making Helm eligible to return Oct. 23 against Ottawa.
Don't worry too much about this "third line versus fourth line" stuff. Helm's going to be "broken in"--no pun intended--slowly, and ideally speaking, the Andersson line will become the 3A line and the Helm line will become the 3B line.
In terms of Wings-Sabres tailings, Michigan Hockey posted a photo gallery from last night's game, and MLive's Brendan Savage posted a video of Jonas Gustavsson, Mike Babcock and Kyle Quincey discussing what may have been a pair of career-with-the-Wings-saving wins for Gustavsson...
"I felt good," Gustavsson said. "It's just a matter of preparing yourself and be ready to go out and have a good first period because that's usually the key in these kind of games. Overall, the guys played really well (in front of me) so that made it pretty easy. It feels good, but I'm going to be happy about this tonight and tomorrow is a new day. It's sounds boring, but that's how I am. You can't get too high or too low. It's early in the season, but it's nice to get off to a good start."
"It was a good test for me for sure, being out of the lineup injured early on here," Gustavsson said. "That was a good test for my body and my groins felt great, so that's what I'm most happy about. If it's a back-to-back game with a couple of days in between that shouldn't matter. You should find a way to get ready. So that was the key for me right now to feel like my body can handle this load this early in the season."
"We got real good goaltending in the first period until we got our legs and then I thought our competitive juices started to go and we started to play a lot better," said coach Mike Babcock. "I liked our second and third. Gus was outstanding two nights in a row.
"Really good for him, first and foremost, and then really good for us. If he can get his confidence back, the reason we signed him was we thought he could really help us. Tonight and last night, going back to back, will go a long way to doing it. You got to stay healthy and feel good about yourself. In this league you got to earn it and he's done that the last couple nights. Him and Jimmy (Bedard, Detroit's goalie coach), spent a lot of time skating before he even got in a practice. He hasn't been practicing that long but he played real well for us.''
"He made a huge save there in the end," said Bertuzzi, whose goal was his second in three games since joining Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the top line. "He's stepped up and is playing very well. He's playing like a goalie who's 6-foot-4, coming out and challenging. He's playing very competitive. He's out of the paint and being very aggressive. He's been doing a heck of a job. We've played two pretty good teams here and he's stood on his head."
"That was a great character win, feels really good," said defenseman Kyle Quincey. "Monster playing as good as he has the last two games, great for him, great for us. It's great seeing a guy finally getting a chance and doing well with the opportunity. We're all happy for him.''
In other news, via RedWingsFeed again, Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski looked at Forbes' list of the most expensive ticket prices in the NHL, and while the Red Wings rank 19th, it's worth noting that upper-bowl tickets now cost up to $80, lower-bowl tickets cost over $100 on average, and a seat on the glass can cost you up to or over $200 for a "premium" game. It's the way of the world...
19) Detroit Red Wings - Avg Price: $124.34
Last year was supposed to be the year that the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs. Ever consistent, the Red Wings came through yet again for Hockeytown. This year, fans are a little more optimistic about their hometown team, resulting in the average price of Red Wings tickets increasing 35.26%, from $91.93 to $124.34.
And finally, again, via RedWingsFeed, one Wing made the Score's Justin Bourne's list of the fastest skaters in the NHL:
#3 Darren Helm: Darren Helm generally looks like he’s doing the same thing everyone else is doing, only suddenly he’s a step ahead of the guy beside him, then two, then the guy is swinging at him with his stick hoping he’s even close enough to take a penalty on.
He’s been hurt so far this season, but when the Red Wings do get him back they’re going to find themselves with a nice mix of burners and thinkers, making them extremely hard to deal with.
He’s an expert at using his wheels to eat up the clock on the penalty kill too. It’s no wonder the Wings love him so much.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.