The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/07/13 at 10:45 AM ET
The Free Press's Helene St. James (via RedWingsFeed) reports that the Red Wings received a modicum of good news regarding Darren Helm's back issues after Helm visited a back specialist yesterday. According to St. James, while the Wings still don't know when Helm will return, they've at least figured out why he's been suffering from a sore back for the past two weeks:
"They ruled out everything bad," general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press. "It's a small strain or tear in a lower back ligament. He got an injection, said he felt better right away."
Helm is now under orders to rest until Monday, at which point the Wings anticipate being able to start treatment and get Helm on a path to a return to the lineup.
He's missed all but one game after hurting his back working out two days before training camp. Helm played Jan. 25 against Minnesota but left practice early the next day with recurring pain. Numerous visits to doctors -- and numerous tests -- all showed there is no significant damage that would require surgery, but the recovery process still has been excruciatingly slow.
Coach Mike Babcock considers Helm the best third-line center in the league -- and the key to having everyone else in the bottom-six forward group slotted correctly. Helm's absence partially explains why the Wings have gotten no offense from their third and fourth lines. Justin Abdelkader, ideally the pivot on the fourth line, has had to move up to the third line, pitting him against better opposing lines than he usually sees. None of the combinations of wingers used on the third line has provided any points, either.
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