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St. James: Back specialist identifies Red Wings forward Darren Helm’s back ailment

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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MoreShoot's avatar

that sounds like a long recovery. sigh.  Hope I’m wrong.

Posted by MoreShoot on 02/07/13 at 10:59 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Helm’s injury problems probably depress me as much or more than anything else that’s ailing the Wings right now.  I keep remembering how well the Wings were playing before he went down in the first game of the playoffs last year, and then how the Wings fell apart.  I know it takes more than one guy, but this guy seems to have a huge impact when he’s in the line up.  I sure hope he won’t turn out to be one of those promising players whose career is thwarted by chronic injuries.

I jokingly said on Twitter yesterday (though at least a couple of people took me seriously apparently) that maybe the lockout should have lasted all year.  It’s really tough right now trying to be optimistic about the Wings.  I guess where I’m at is thinking of this as a testing/experimenting time.  By that I mean an opportunity for Ken Holland and the coaches to see different players in different combinations and made decisions about who needs to stay and who needs to go before next season. 

Realistically, I don’t see the Wings in the playoffs.  But who knows, if Helm returns, Smith returns and everyone else stays healthy…  (See? I still have a bit of the optimist in me.)

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 02/07/13 at 11:12 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

Realistically, I don’t see the Wings in the playoffs

Well, they made it in the hellish 09-10 season, but they had 82 games and Lidstrom.  We won’t do it unless Jimmy plays out of his mind, and, I dare say, Holland adds one extra D man pretty much right now.

Posted by MoreShoot on 02/07/13 at 11:21 AM ET

Sneetch's avatar

Blows monkeys. I think this season is a wash. Already dreaming of a Cleary-less (among others) 2013 - 2014 campaign.

Posted by Sneetch on 02/07/13 at 11:52 AM ET

RW19's avatar

While I am Glad to hear about Helm, I am not so happy to read the material on Abdelkader.

It is mind boggling why this team won’t slot guys correctly and then move to address its holes. And this whole slotting mess has everything to do with the lack of adequate wingers for Datsyuk, nothing else.

Abdelkader is a LW. He is a solid grinder who works wonders with Helm. Play him there. Together they give you a very good fourth line.

The third line should be centered by a Filppula. He has conclusively shown he is not a second line center or winger. Play him where he belongs, on the third line where you can avoid “pitting him against better opposing lines than he usually sees” on the second line.”

Then either finally find a second line center who can play with Franzen (so Z and Dats can stay together) or find a RW or LW who can play with Datsyuk (So Z can play with Franzen).

Man it’s ridiculous that while there is a Jagr and Micheal Ryder available in Frre Agency the last two years the Wings add no one but Samuelsson and Tootoo at RW? Yes they added Brunner, but that doesn’t help Dats does it.

Datsyuk must be dreaming of Russia every time he lines up with Cleary, Bert and Fil. he has needed a speedy winger since Hossa left. They have saddled him with leftovers. No wonder he wants to play in the KHL.

Posted by RW19 on 02/07/13 at 01:15 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

The third line should be centered by a Filppula. He has conclusively shown he is not a second line center or winger.

66 points on the wing last year and he’s not a second line winger eh?

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 02/07/13 at 06:38 PM ET

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