DETROIT – Here’s a quick update from the Wings’ morning skate prior to their game tonight against the Minnesota Wild.
Forwards Darren Helm (back) and Todd Bertuzzi (flu) and defenseman Jakub Kindl (groin) will all make their season debut tonight.
Helm will center the third line with Danny Cleary and Justin Abdelkader.
“I’m just looking for everyone to be good,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t know what level Helmer’s game is going to be at, he hasn’t played in eight months. I just thought it gave us the best skating opportunity.
Helm has been on the wrong end of a rash of injuries of late.
He missed the Wings’ week-long training camp and the first three games of the season with a back injury, which was the first of his playing career.
He was hit by a puck on Nov. 2 during an informal skate in Troy, breaking an orbital bone.
On March 17, he missed the final 10 regular season games with a sprained MCL. Then, in his first game back, the playoff opener against Nashville, he had tendons in his forearm sliced by a skate to end his season.
“Every time I turned the corner and got on the ice, there was a puck in my face, or I was falling some awkward way or doing something wrong,” Helm said. “I went through kind of an unlucky stretch there. Hopefully it’s done for me.”
The Wings are looking for Helm to provide energy like he has in the past on that third line.
“As I went through it yesterday I had Abby on the fourth unit, but we talked about him being a real good third line right or left wing and that’s we’re going to start with here today and we’re available to go either way,” Babcock said.
Bertuzzi is slated to start on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula.
The first line will be Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Damien Brunner.
Cory Emmerton will be on the fourth line with Drew Miller and Jordin Tootoo.
Patrick Eaves is a healthy scratch.
Jonathan Ericsson (hip), Mikael Samuelsson (groin) and Jonas Gustavsson (groin) also won’t skate.
Kindl will be paired on the second power play unit with Brendan Smith.
For Kindl it may be his last chance to make this team has a regular.
“That’s another good thing about injures, other people get opportunities,” Babcock said. “If you grab hold of it you get to play a long, long time. Everybody comes in has nobody and then does something.
“You have to grab hold of it,” Babcock continued. “Kuba is getting to the point in his career, this is eight years now when you drafted him, you have to grab hold of it. If not you’re not part of it.”