Sheahan out ‘for a bit'; Datsyuk status for Saturday unknown

DETROIT >> The Wings will be without center Riley Sheahan for “for a bit” according to coach Mike Babcock.

Sheahan suffered an upper-body injury during Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

“Obviously he brings a lot, but someone else gets an opportunity,” Babcock said of Sheahan. “I made a policy over the last few years, there’s no sense in talking about the guys who aren’t here. We’ll talk about the guys who are.”

Sheahan had played every game this season, totaling 12 goals, 22 assists and a minus-2 rating.

Pavel Datsyuk took part on line drills at practice, centering a line with Darren Helm and Tomas Tatar on wing.

Babcock wasn’t sure if Datsyuk will play Saturday when the Wings host Tampa Bay.

He’s missed the last five games with a lower-body injury.

Erik Cole also didn’t practice. He missed Tuesday’s game with an upper-body injury.

“I don’t know,” Babcock said when asked about Cole’s status. “It’s pretty obvious you come here every day and ask me about these guys. When they’re ready to play they tell me. When they’re not … What do I do?”

Quote of the day … Wings coach Mike Babcock

DETROIT >> Here’s Wings coach Mike Babcock’s response when asked about how comfortable he is if Petr Mrazek is the No. 1 goalie heading into the playoffs.

“I like winning,” Babcock said. “That’s it. It’s real simple. Everybody in the National Hockey League knows that the best guys get to play and if you’re playing the best you get to play. Our players start each game knowing that. It’s no different. Anytime you’re struggling as a player it’s your job to work extra hard when you get your opportunity it’s to seize your opportunity. So it’s no different for Pete Mrazek. He gets an opportunity. He’s got to seize it. We just watch and they decide who plays, not us. Everyone thinks the coach decides. All the coach does is observe, no different than you do. He just does it from a different perspective. And then the guys who play the best get to play.”

Mrazek still views Howard as the No. 1 goalie; Howard says his main issue, ‘following the puck with my eyes’

DETROIT >> Jimmy Howard has pinpointed the problem he’s had of late between the pipes, tracking the puck with his eyes.

“After going over the video tape and talking to goalie coach Jim Bedard it’s just following the puck with my eyes,” Howard said. “It’s just that simple. With a goalie, if you’re not following the puck to the best of your abilities and you’re behind that split second it can make a difference.”

And because of it Howard has lost his starting job for now to Petr Mrazek.

“Everyone goes through this during the course of a season,” Howard said. “Maybe it’s a little blessing in disguise that it’s happening now and not 2-3 weeks from now.

“It’s just about working hard out on the ice,” Howard continued. “Continue to do the right things in practice and then it’ll just fall right into place in the games. When you’re out there, waiting for things to happen that’s when the puck’s going to do crazy things. You just have to go out there and play. For me the last couple of games, following the puck and using my eyes more, that’s been the issue.”

Howard has allowed eight goals on 32 shots in slightly over four periods the past two games.

“It’s not mechanically at all, but I guess in a sense it is,” Howard said. “It’s following the puck. That’s key. Especially when you get big bodies in front of you, you’ve got to focus on the puck. You can’t lose sight of the puck. Pucks are going to go in in the NHL. We all know that. It’s about brushing it off and trying to make that next save for the guys.

“I want to be out there every single night, just like everyone else when you get to this level,” Howard added. “One of the things that drives you is competing. It never sits well when I’m sitting on the bench. I want to be out there every single night. Coach feels I don’t deserve it. Maybe it’ll be a good thing to just put in a little bit of work here.”

Howard brushed off the talk about the talk of who’s the team’s number one goalie, but Mrazek did not.

“I’m know Howie is still number one I’m sure,” said Mrazek, who’ll start Saturday when the Wings host Tampa Bay. “He’s proven himself for so many years. This year he’s been great. Sometimes it’s hard for goalies when nothing hits you and everything goes in. You come back. I don’t think we should talk about the No. 1 goalie. I think that’s for sure it’s Howie.”

Howard allowed three goals on 10 shots in the first period of Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the San Jose Sharks and was replaced by Mrazek to start the second.

“I don’t think it’s a confidence issue at all,” Howard said. “I think it really is the minor thing of following the puck and not losing sight of it out there. That can make up for a split second. When you lose the puck out there you, you’re behind the play for a second and that can be the difference.”

Howard, who turned 31 on Thursday, has been very inconsistent since returning in mid-February from a groin injury.

He was easily one of the reasons why the Wings are where they’re at now because of his strong play to start the season.

“It’s not all on him,” Darren Helm said. “We’re giving up too many chances. The good thing about Jimmy is he’s going to come and play now it’s just a matter of time. Right now he’s going through a little stretch like the whole team is going through it. We have to find a way to battle hard through it and get ourselves back on track.”

Detroit is 3-7-1 in its past 11 games.

Quote of the day … Wings coach Mike Babcock

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock pointed response to when asked about Petr Mrazek’s play and his subsequent inclusion of his team allowing 11 goals over the last two games.

“I didn’t like the second goal,” Babcock said. “Was that the fifth goal? When you’ve given up as many as we have it’s hard to remember.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock: “Give Pete an opportunity here because we need that area fixed.”

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock gave Jimmy Howard one more chance to keep his No. 1 status between the pipes.

And now Babcock has taken it away.

After allowing three goals on 10 shots after one period in Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the San Jose Sharks at Joe Louis Arena, Babcock made the switch to Petr Mrazek the rest of the way.

Babcock then handed Mrazek the starting role for the time being after the game.

“When you’re behind like we are, you’re giving up too many goals,” Babcock said. “Let’s not worry about the turnovers at this point. Let’s fix how we’re playing without the puck, let’s get … Pete Mrzek’s got to get himself ready to go. Give Pete an opportunity here because we need that area fixed.

“It’s amazing when you get a little confidence in that area we can all settle down and get playing better,” Babcock continued. “We’ve scored tons of goals in the last couple of games but like I said it’s like chasing the game. You can’t play like that, you’ve got to play right. So we’re going to get regrouped and I guarantee we’ll be ready to play.”

Howard has allowed eight goals on 32 shots in slightly over four periods.

“I agree with you,” Babcock said when asked if Howard looked uncomfortable in the first period. “It’s one of those things. I haven’t talked to him, I’ll talk to him (Friday), but obviously it didn’t go the way he wanted.

“We gave him an opportunity to bounce back, he didn’t do that,” Babcock added. “We’ll give Pete Mrazek an opportunity here. As a group of coaches and a group of players we just got to bunker in here (Friday) and have a good conversation, have a good practice and get ready to play. Like I said we’ll be back ready to go.”

Howard, who turned 31 on Thursday, has been very inconsistent since returning in mid-February from a groin injury.

He was easily one of the reasons why the Wings are where they’re at now because of his strong play to start the season.

When Babcock was asked if he had a No. 1 goalie he responded with, “I’m starting Pete Mrazek next game.”

Mrazek also gave up a softy to Patrick Marleau, which proved to be the game winner.

“I didn’t like the second goal,” Babcock said. “Was that the fifth goal? When you’ve given up as many as we have it’s hard to remember. But the one, the chicken wing.

“(Logan) Couture’s shot’s a great shot, but that can’t happen to you,” Babcock continued. “But he’ll get the start next game and we need him to bunker down and play the way he’s capable of playing.”

The Wings, who lost 5-4 in overtime on Tuesday to Arizona, host Tampa Bay on Saturday.

“Same goes for everyone else,” Babcock said. “We had D that didn’t box out and weren’t ready to go at the start either. We’re all in this together. We took our lumps here today and last game. We’ve given up a lot of goals at home. That’s not how we want to play. That’s not Red Wing-like. We’ll come in here tomorrow and get it fixed.”

Detroit is 3-7-1 in its past 11 games.

Helm delivers an incredible delivery story

DETROIT >> There are baby birthing stories and then there are baby birthing stories.

Darren Helm has one of those baby birthing stories.

Helm and his girlfriend, Devon, welcomed their second daughter into the world from the backseat of the car as the Wings’ speedy forward tried desperately to get to the hospital on time.

He was five minutes way Providence Park Hospital.

“It was quite the experience, quite the ordeal,” Helm said. “But everything is good now. She came about seven days and five minutes too early.

“It was pretty intense,” Helm continued. “I’m extremely proud of what she did. The courage and the pain that she had to go through is amazing. How she did that I’m so proud of her, proud of the baby. It was a pretty good day when everything was kind of cleared and everyone was feeling pretty good.”

The delivery occurred at 2:15 a.m., Monday.

“It’s just a huge relief,” Helm said. “Five minutes too late to the hospital things could have got a lot worse, but luckily, fortunately, things worked out in the right way for us. Couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out and we have a pretty funny story now that we think about it.

“I don’t think I’ve been more nervous in my life and scared,” Helm continued. “I didn’t really have a chance to think about it until after. During, obviously, I was petrified, but things ended up working out great. Took me a good four to five (hours) … the whole day to calm down. It was an early delivery, so the whole day I was on edge just thinking about it.”

His daughter, Rylee Clare (six pounds, 10 ounces), and girlfriend were expected back home Tuesday afternoon.

“Right now I’m here,” Helm said after the Wings’ morning skate prior to their game Tuesday night at home against the Arizona Coyotes. “In five minutes my mind is going to be focused about getting home.”

A tired Helm was in bed around 11 p.m. after the team had just beaten the St. Louis Blues in overtime.

“She kind of woke me up and told me things were kind of happening, but not really fast,” Helm recalled. “So we kind of took our time. Should have been a little more (quicker) I guess.

“Devon kept on saying that she had the urge to push and they said when the baby’s ready, the baby’s ready,” Helm continued. “She can’t really control much about it. We tried to make it there. She tried to hold her back. But they said it happens every once in a while, but not often. They’ve always told us the second one comes quicker, but we didn’t expect it to be that quick.”

Helm’s other daughter, Reece, is three and a half years old.

“We called ahead and told them before we left,” Helm said. “But it was pretty much as we were leaving where things kicked into high gear. I went to the ER and they were ready. Then the people that we called came over. It didn’t take us too long to get us back into the actual baby room. She was cleaned up. Got to cut the cord and everything was fine.”

This birth really put a lot of things into perspective for Helm.

“I definitely haven’t been thinking about hockey for the last … this is probably the first time I thought about hockey,” Helm said. “Yeah, my mind is definitely on her and getting home. It will be the first time she’s home. It’s such a great feeling. Real proud of Devon and what she did.

“My older daughter is just so happy and excited to be a big sister and helping her out,” Helm continued. “She’s already trying to help us with changing diapers and giving her hugs. She couldn’t wait to get to the hospital (Monday). She was singing a little ‘I’m Excited’ song on the way to the room. She’s pumped. I think everyone is just real excited.”

Helm, who missed practice Monday, will be in the lineup Tuesday.

“Can you just imagine,” Wings coach Mike Babcock asked. “We’ve had a family program before home games all year basically, where guys present. He’s already done it but he sat down today and presented the story and the guys loved it and it was a lot of fun to hear him talk.

“Is that awesome or what? It’s unbelievable that that could still happen,” Babcock continued. “I just think back to many moons ago when we had ours, I can just imagine the urgency and the tension right there.”

Babcock’s message to Cole and Zidlicky simple: “Picture the player you are and just do that.”

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock met with both newly acquired Erik Cole and Marek Zidlicky and had the same message for both of them, “Picture the player you are and just do that. That’s why we acquired you. Here’s our structure and now you have to find a way to do the two together.”

Cole and Zidlicky took part in their first practice with their new team since being traded for prior to the NHL trade deadline.

“I don’t want them thinking when they get on the ice I want them playing,” Babcock said. “It’ll show over time. We didn’t bring them here to change them. We got them here so they could do what they do and we’ll figure out a way to make it work for them.”

Cole practiced on a line with Henrik Zetterberg, who’s excepted to action Wednesday after missing four straight games due to a head injury, and Justin Abdelkader.

Zidlicky, who’s a right-handed shot and a power-play specialist, was paired on the blue line with Brendan Smith.

“He plays with pace and can take the puck to the net,” Babcock said of Cole. “He’s having a good year. Looks to me he has some size and has the ability to be heavy on it.”

“He’s a competitor,” added Babcock on Zidlicky. “He can shoot the puck and can make plays. He’s got good offensive skill. I think he’ll be a great addition. He made some plays in practice that makes you smile which is positive.”

The two will also be inserted on power play units. Cole will be out with his two linemates, along with Stephen Weiss and Niklas Kronwall, while Zidlicky will man the point for Pavel Datsyuk, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan.

“It was great to see that we as an organization were able to help our team,” Babcock said. “I think our team has done a good job and if you do a good job Kenny (Holland) has shown over the years he tries to help you.

“From an organizational standpoint, long term, we were able to do that without giving up a whole bunch so therefore we serve ourselves for now and in the future with the group we have coming,” Babcock continued. “We’re excited we have both guys. I think both can be prominent players for us. It’s going to take them some time to adjust but I think they’ll be a factor.”