Tag Archives: darren helm

Wings set to debut their ‘all center’ line tonight against Flyers

DETROIT >> The center of attention, so to speak, in Wednesday’s Wings home game against the Philadelphia Flyers will be their third line.

Pavel Datsyuk will center Darren Helm and Stephen Weiss.

All three are natural centers.

“We might be the only line in the NHL with three natural centers, so we should have success on the dot, hopefully, and some pretty good skill with Pav and Weisser,” Helm said. “We have to find a way to click pretty early.

“There are definitely some different aspects to our games that could gel together if we find a way to click, and it is exciting for me at least, playing with those two skilled, confident guys,” Helm continued. “If we find a way to click or gel it will be fun and pretty exciting.”

Datsyuk has missed his four straight games with a groin injury and six of the last eight.

“It’s very important for us to have him back,” Weiss said. “It’s a big boost to our lineup to have him back. Anytime he misses a game, it seems like it’s too long.”

Former Wing Kris Draper said playing on a line with Datsyuk was like winning the lottery.

“It definitely feels that way,” Weiss said. “When I saw the sheet this morning I had a little grin on my face. He makes the game a lot easier for the guys that play around him.”

Datsyuk is considered one of the best two-way players in the game if not the best.

“His ability to get the puck back is just one of the skill sets that separate him from a lot of other guys in the league, his ability to play defensively and steal pucks and turn it into offense,” Weiss said.

Datsyuk has been limited to 45 games in 2013-14 due to a knee injury and concussion. This season he’s already missed 11 of 21 games due to a separated shoulder and groin pull.

“He’s a guy I grew up watching, really and now to have a chance to play with him, it’s pretty cool,” Weiss said. “But you can’t be worried about that too much. I’ve just got to worry about what I’ve got to do and hopefully we can find some chemistry, the three of us.”

Datsyuk has five goals and six assists in 10 games this season.

“I thought initially it took him a bit to get back and then he was on fire and got hurt again,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “The big thing for Pav is as you get a little older in your career your physical fitness and the amount of care you take in keeping your body healthy is so important.

“He’s a high-end player for us,” Babcock continued. “I haven’t put him with (Henrik Zetterberg) on purpose just because … if he gets going maybe I’ll do that but right now leave him where he is and play him on a separate power play. I don’t think you can ever go wrong with having Datsyuk in your lineup.”

Not only is the line all centers, but they’ve all missed significant playing time over the past three seasons, combining to miss 306 regular-season games over that span – Weiss (140), Helm (83), Datsyuk (83).

Weiss had two goals in his return to the lineup Monday, doubling his output since joining the Wings two off-seasons ago.

“All signs are pointing towards being over the hump,” Weiss said.

Datsyuk a game-time decision Wednesday; centered a line with Helm and Weiss in practice

DETROIT >> From the looks of things, Pavel Datsyuk is set to return to the Wings’ lineup.

And it could come as early as Wednesday when the Detroit hosts the Philadelphia Flyers at Joe Louis Arena.

“I feel good,” Datsyuk said after practice Tuesday. “We’ll see (Wednesday) morning. I’m happy to skate full practice with team.”

Datsyuk has missed his four straight games with a groin injury and six of the last eight.

“Be better myself,” Datsyuk said when asked what more he felt he needed to do before declaring himself fit to go. “No (pain), it’s fine. Everything is fine so far. I need a little bit (of) pace with team, a little bit. Everybody’s flying.”

Datsyuk centered a line with Darren Helm and Stephen Weiss as wingers. All three players are centers.

Datsyuk also doesn’t want to be in-and-out of the lineup due to a lingering injury.
“It’s kind of difficult, what happened first time, looked like I was ready, but jumped in too early,” Datsyuk said.

Weiss nets a pair in Wings’ win over Senators; he said he ‘never lost confidence’

DETROIT >> If Stephen Weiss was looking for a glimmer of hope that he’s still the point-producing forward the Wings signed two offseasons ago, he got just that Monday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Weiss scored twice in Detroit’s 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators.

It was just his second game this season with the Wings.

Due to a lingering groin injury that developed into a sports hernia, Weiss has played in just 28 since the start of 2013.

It was also his first goal with the Wings since Oct. 14, 2013 and his first two-goal game since Feb. 26, 2012 while still with the Florida Panthers.

“I never lost confidence,” Weiss said. “It was just a matter of when you haven’t played in so long, coach has a tough time putting you in situations where you’ve always played and rightfully so. Even in practice, you’re not playing power play and getting those reps I have throughout my career. It’s just a matter of sticking with it. Hopefully get a break here or there to stay in the lineup for a couple games, build some momentum and off you go.”

Weiss had a goal in each of his conditioning games this past weekend with Grand Rapids.

“Scoring,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said when asked what Weiss can add to the lineup. “The guy’s got 60 points in the league a ton of times. That doesn’t happen by accident. But in your career, when you get hurt and you miss a couple of years, there’s no guarantee you’re getting it back.

“Weisser has played (three) games, two in the American League, and he’s got (four) goals,” Babcock continued. “Scoring is scoring. Not many guys can do that. We acquired him initially because we thought he could help us score and he spent two years on IR basically. Hopefully he can get his confidence back and get going.”

Weiss, 31, managed to play just 26 games last season totaling two goals, two assists and a minus-4. He had sport hernia surgery on Dec. 23 and then a second procedure on April 21 to repair an issue with scar tissue.

“I felt good physically,” said Weiss, who had 10:42 of ice time Monday. “We didn’t play a ton, but when I was out there I would still like to create more. It was a decent start. I felt healthy, had good legs and hopefully it just keeps snowballing in that direction.”

Weiss drove to the net hard and chipped in a loose puck over Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson’s right shoulder to put the Wings up 3-1 just past the halfway point of the game.

“That’s where you’re going to score goals,” Weiss said. “It was nice having pucks lying around there. Sometimes you go there and they’re going off skates and away from you and tonight they were there lying there for me. It’s nice to get those breaks.”

His second goal came in similar fashion, positioning himself in front of Anderson. After Anderson made a right pad save on Darren Helm, Weiss calmly backhanded a shot over the goal line.

“This is the best league in the world,” said Weiss, who played left wing on a line with Tomas Jurco and centered by Darren Helm. “It’s hard enough when you’re in a groove and playing well never mind when you’ve missed so many games, you’re in, you’re out, you’re in, you’re out. You’re playing different positions. It’s tough to do what you’ve done throughout your career.

“Like I said, it felt good to be in the lineup, it was nice to get a couple of goals and get the win,” Weiss added. “But I’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

Weiss had a rough preseason, registering just an assist and was a minus-4 in six games.

“Anytime you can score it gives you confidence,” Weiss said. “You remember how to do it. I always said it takes a bounce or something to go your way and then it starts snowballing. Hockey is funny that way. You see if with a lot of guys. To get those two down (in Grand Rapids) was huge. I had some bounces and hopefully I’ll keep scoring.”

The Wings targeted Weiss on the first day of free agency two off-seasons ago and landed the center for a hefty five-year deal worth $24.5 million.

Weiss has had scored 20 or more goals four times in his last seven seasons in Florida.

Weiss returns to Wings’ lineup. “It’s a good opportunity for him,” Babcock says.

DETROIT >> Stephen Weiss will be back in the Wings’ lineup tonight at home against the Ottawa Senators.

And for how long he remains in it will be up to him.

“It’s a good opportunity for him, he’s going to have to grab ahold of it, obviously,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the team’s morning skate Monday at Joe Louis Arena. “He’s had a good NHL career. It’s been sidetracked for two years.

“The way I look at it is I’m in the day to say winning business,” Babcock continued. “I get up each day and I’m trying to find a way to win the game and I’ll play whoever gives us the best chance to win.”

Weiss, who has played in one other game this season, has played in 47 out of a possible 150 regular season games for his teams since the start of 2013.

“Now it’s up to him,” Babcock said. “We’re in the business of winning games and everyone’s got to command their share of the ice and get their share of the ice time. We’ll see what happens.”

Weiss will play left wing on line Tomas Jurco and centered by Darren Helm.

“I’ve played a few games (at wing), but I’ve been a center all my life,” Weiss said. “It’s just different.

“I don’t know how to really explain it,” Weiss continued. “You’ve just got to be more aware in the D zone, a little bit different coverages. I’m just used to playing center and being able to move the puck both ways. On the wing, you’re more so limited to one side of the ice. It’ll be fine.”

During his two-game conditioning stint in Grand Rapids he scored a goal in each game.

“It was nice to play some minutes and get through the games (with) no problem,” Weiss said. “I would have liked to get a little bit more accomplished, but it was nice to score a couple and get that feeling back. It’s been a while since I’ve scored a goal.”

This and that

DETROIT >> Justin Abdelkader didn’t practice Thursday. Wings general manager Ken Holland said he was given a maintenance day and should be fine to go Friday.

Stephen Weiss filled in on his line with Darren Helm and Andrej Nestrasil.

Pavel Datsyuk (shoulder) and Daniel Cleary (healthy) were in gray.

Jimmy Howard will start Friday and Jonas Gustavsson will start in the rematch against the Leafs Saturday at home.

Wings’ fourth line seeing increased ice time

DETROIT >> Riley Sheahan’s line couldn’t do it and neither could the line centered by Darren Helm.

The Wings’ fourth line – Drew Miller and Joakim Andersson with Luke Glendening in the middle – did.

Wings coach Mike Babcock had Glendening’s line on the ice every time Anaheim put its second forward line with Ryan Kesler on the ice from the second period on Saturday night and they held him in check.

“For this team to win we’ve got to have 20 competitive guys every single night,” Babcock said after practice Monday at Joe Louis Arena. “If we don’t, we’re going to have a harder time. “I think that line has been one of our best lines two games in a row. They do what they do.”

Normal fourth lines in the NHL average less than 10 minutes a game. Through two games, the Wings’ fourth line is averaging 14 minutes a game.

“They check like crazy, they’re gritty,” Babcock said. “Glenny is a pain in the butt, let’s be honest, done a real nice job. Andy can make plays, he’s a good passer, he’s smart and competes. Millsy is real smart and works hard.

“They all three brought their game and that’s what we have to do,” Babcock continued. “You can’t play your game part way through, you’ve got to bring your game, you’ve got to arrive on time and you’ve got to compete. I think our team has a chance to be lightning fast and be a pain to play against.”

The three forwards, along with Justin Abdelkader, are also on the penalty kill that hasn’t allowed a goal in seven power play chances.

“You try and have as much O-zone time as you can and put pressure on their D,” Miller said. “We all know how to play that role and what our job is. They don’t ask us, I mean we want to score, but we’re not out there on the power play, playing minutes like (Henrik Zetterberg) and (Johan Franzen). We go out there and play our minutes and play our role.”

Glendening also scored a goal in the 3-2 loss to the Ducks.

“We’re a hardworking line, that plays smart and good defensively,” Andersson said. “We’re happy we got a lot of minutes there even though we started on fourth line.”

Babcock: Nestrasil has “earned the right to start today”; Weiss, Cleary heatlhy scratches; Kindl in over Lashoff

DETROIT >> Quick update from the Wings’ morning skate prior to their game tonight against the Boston Bruins at Joe Louis Arena.

Andrej Nestrasil will indeed make his NHL debut, skating on a line with Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist.

“The good thing for me is it’s right after camp so I’ve played five games,” Nestrasil said. “I’m sure I’ll be nervous before the game, but it’s a little different when you get called up from the AHL and you don’t know the guys here. I’ve been here for a month and a half so I’m really familiar with the things we do here and I think I’ll be fine.”

Nestrasil was just informed he was playing Thursday morning.

“I slept like a baby,” Nestrasil smiled. “It doesn’t make me nervous that I’m playing tonight. If it’s something you expect maybe you’d be nervous so because maybe I didn’t expect it all I just didn’t have time to catchup with the whole thing.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock also has Nestrasil playing on the second power play unit.

“I kind of thought I was going to play based on what line I was practicing with so I was almost sure I would,” Nestrasil said. “It’s really good I am because so many people from back home texting me expecting me to play. I told them all the calm down, it’s day by day. I’m glad so know they call can watch it tonight.

“I felt like someone put glue in my hand two days ago and stuck my phone in there because I seriously the one day I had 100 percent battery and two hours it was all gone,” Nestrasil added. “Today, I’m turning off my phone to get a rest and get ready for the game.”

Nestrasil was impressive during training camp after totaling 16 goals and 20 assists in his first full season with Grand Rapids last year.

“You want to share that with the people you love and the people that helped you along the way,” Babcock said. “I thought Nesty played well. We’re in a situation without Pavel (Datsyuk) that we need another body. He played well and he earned his right to start today.”

Datsyuk (shoulder) will miss his first season opener since joining the Wings.

Datsyuk, who is on short-term injured reserve, separated his right shoulder on Sept. 22. He was slated to sidelined four weeks.

He began skating with the team this week, but has not taken part in many drills and has yet to be cleared for contact.

Jakub Kindl got the nod over Brian Lashoff on the blue line. He’ll be paired with Kyle Quincey.

Stephen Weiss and Daniel Cleary are both healthy scratches.