Welcome back, Darren Helm!
Or should we say, welcome back, Darren Helm’s back.
And groin. And whatever else has been ailing the speedy, talented forward.
Helm is exactly what the Red Wings need now. Hell, he’s exactly what 29 other NHL teams need. There aren’t too many players like him.
Helm scored what turned out to be the winning goal in Edmonton, being sprung on a breakaway five minutes into Saturday night’s game, burying the puck past Oilers goalie Richard Bachman for a 1-0 lead. Detroit won, 5-0.
The Red Wings are now 3-0 on this 4-game western road trip, and they seemed to have left their baggage at Metro Airport. Only 14 Oilers shots made their way to rookie goalie Petr Mrazek. The 40-shot nightmare against the NY Rangers in their last home game at JLA is like a distant memory.
But back to Helm, no pun intended, for it was Helm’s touchy back that shelved him for all but one game in the truncated 2013 season.
“It was the icing on top of the cake, really,” Helm said of his goal. “The relief came after the game, knowing that I could still play. The goal was just a nice addition to that. I was really excited.
“It was one of the nicest moments I have had in a while, since this injury bug started. I was pretty nervous. I was pretty anxious and eager to get out there,” Helm added.
I remember speaking to Helm during Media Day prior to the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals. Not long before, Helm had scored the GWG in overtime to clinch the WCF against Chicago.
He was less than 48 hours from having scored the biggest goal of his life, yet Helm spoke so softly I could barely hear him. But what struck me was that he was the kind of kid you hope your daughter brings home.
But it’s not just that Helm is a nice guy. His speed, instincts for the puck and relentless forechecking are elements that the 2013 Red Wings missed badly.
Injuries hit Helm hard over the past two years, so here’s hoping he’s back in the lineup to stay.
Here’s coach Mike Babcock on Helm, as spoken following the win in Edmonton: “Helmer gives a huge dimension of talent that we can take advantage of if he is healthy,” the coach said. “He can be dominant. To see him do what he did tonight, I thought he played very well.”
BOTTOM LINE: A chance for a 4-0 trip seemed highly unlikely when the team left Detroit. Now it seems like a foregone conclusion, the way the Red Wings have tightened the screws defensively.
THE WINGED WHEELER SAYS: Don’t look now, but the Old Man, forward Daniel Alfredsson, is getting on a bit of a scoring roll. Now, if fellow free agent signee Stephen Weiss could follow suit, that would be great. More production from the fourth line—Tomas Tatar, Joakim Andersson and Justin Abdelkader were on the ice for two more goals—is sure to make Babcock’s steel jaw relax.