DETROIT — While the top two forward lines are set in stone, the Wings’ other two lines are a work in progress with Helm still sidelined.
“In the playoffs your third and fourth line play a big role,” Drew Miller said. “We’ve got to have that energy and bring that speed and that grind time down low. We might have gotten away from that a little bit. As a group, the bottom six, we weren’t doing it as consistently as we’d like to.”
Justin Abdelkader centered Miller and Cleary on the third line, with recent call-up Chris Conner working in. Cory Emmerton played between Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Holmstrom with Riley Sheahan working in.
“The last couple of games we got back to it pretty well and hopefully that carries over into the playoffs,” Miller said. “That’s a big momentum boost for your team to have four lines going.”
The absence of Helm hasn’t helped the bottom six forwards.
“We need to get our third and fourth line going, that’s why we need Helm back,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He seems to be the key to the bottom six. He plugs into the three-hole (center) and Abby in the four-hole. Then suddenly we’re a different hockey club depth wise.”