The Red Wings are just a 'normal' team

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I wasn’t very popular among Wings fans this past week when I brought
up the notion that the Detroit Red Wings might suffer a bit of a let
down season after years and years and years and years of regular season
domination, but the cracks are definitely showing this season.

It’s
true that the majority of the issues this season start with and revolve
around the massive amount of injuries the team has to deal with.
But Red Wings cannot deny that the team this year is not the same as
the one that went to two straight Stanley Cup finals, and they’re going
to be fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot this year. That’s a
completely new concept for this team and it’s fans, but it’s reality.

Never
before was this more apparent than in last night’s loss to the Calgary
Flames. For the second game in a row the Red Wings folded in the third
period, nearly letting a three goal lead get away from them in Chicago
and then allowing three late goals against Calgary. This is a Red Wings
team that is not only vulnerable but is stumbling when the pressure is
on in the playoff hunt.

Nicklas Lidstrom realizes that things aren’t
like they’ve been in the past
.

“In certain games,
we’ve played well
with the lead, we kept going after them, kept the third player high but
got pressure on their defensemen,” Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom
said. “We haven’t gotten that consistently this year.

“I think
we’re
caught taking a step back instead of being on our toes and being more
aggressive. I think we’re a little hesitant and that just invites the
other team to come after us a little more and get a lot more pressure
on us.”

There’s no doubt that if the Red Wings do
make the playoffs, their talent level and experience makes them a
dangerous foe that no team wants to face.

I understand that Red
Wings fans have been hearing their team is too old and is bound to
stumble at any time, yet they’ve still been able to maintain a high
level of competitiveness. I contend that we are seeing that stumble
right now in front of our eyes; forget the injuries from earlier this
season, this is a mostly healthy Red Wings team that is 3-2-0 since the
break (not bad) but is far from perfect.

This isn’t to say that
the Red Wings are suddenly a bad team, in fact they are from it. But
they are a normal, middle of the road team that struggles from time to
time and from game to game. It’s not anything to be ashamed of, it’s just
something that Red Wings fans will have to get used to.

Sabres’ McCabe suffers shoulder injury, will not return versus Red Wings

New York Islanders v Buffalo Sabres
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The Buffalo Sabres will be down a defenseman for the remainder of Friday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

Jake McCabe has left the game due to a shoulder injury suffered during the first period and will not return, the club stated during the second period.

Signed to a three-year, $4.8 million contract extension last summer, the 23-year-old McCabe has one goal and 10 points in 44 games this season for Buffalo

More recently, McCabe drew the immediate ire of the Winnipeg Jets after he delivered an open-ice hit on rookie Patrik Laine, who suffered a concussion on the play.

Red Wings get ‘ultra-fast, ultra-competitive’ Helm back in lineup versus Sabres

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 11: Darren Helm #43 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 11, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Red Wings 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Darren Helm is back in the Detroit Red Wings lineup Friday, after missing the last two months with a shoulder injury.

Helm last played on Nov. 15, and was initially expected to miss at least six weeks with a dislocated shoulder. According to reports, he’ll make his return to game action against the Buffalo Sabres.

The Red Wings are searching for a fourth consecutive win, as they look to gain ground in the Eastern Conference wild card race.

“He’s ultra-fast, he’s ultra-competitive,” said coach Jeff Blashill, per MLive.com. “I thought he had an excellent start to the year. It was obviously unfortunate he got hurt, but we all deal with it. The good thing with him is he’s such a skater and such a competitor that when he gets back into the lineup after a long layoff I expect him to be pretty good.”

In 17 games this season before his injury, Helm had four goals and seven points.

Jets rookie scorer Patrik Laine making progress in concussion recovery

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 17:  Patrik Laine #29 of the Winnipeg Jets waits for a faceoff against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on November 17, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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There was a positive development for the Winnipeg Jets and their rookie scorer Patrik Laine on Friday.

Per reports, Laine was back skating with his teammates during Friday’s practice, albeit while wearing a yellow non-contact jersey, marking another step in his return from a concussion suffered on an open-ice hit from Jake McCabe on Jan. 7.

“It doesn’t matter how long you’re out of the games. I’m still young, and I have a lot of games ahead of me. I don’t have to rush anything,” said Laine, per NHL.com. “It’s easier to work out now, and be able to go out on the ice with the team. Hopefully I can get back soon.”

Laine has missed the last six games, and the Jets have lost four times in his absence. There have been rumblings about the future of head coach Paul Maurice in Winnipeg due to his team’s struggles.

Selected second overall last June, Laine has been as advertised in his freshman campaign: A scoring forward with a terrific and accurate shot. He leads Winnipeg in goals with 21. Certainly, the Jets have missed his ability to finish over this recent stretch. But at age 18 and given the nature of his injury, it’s imperative he not be rushed back.

“He comes back in (Saturday) and if he’s right where he left off and felt good, we would start to push the heart rate a little bit and gradually work up from there,” said Maurice, per the Winnipeg Sun. “If he feels good (Saturday), he’ll get some light bumps in.

“He’s absolutely not getting back into a game until he’s at 100 percent and clear. And then I’m more interested in getting him in the next game.”

The Jets play the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, the Anaheim Ducks on Monday and the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

Injured Silfverberg skips trip with Ducks

Jakob Silfverberg
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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Forward Jakob Silfverberg will not travel on the Anaheim Ducks’ upcoming two-game road trip to Minnesota and Winnipeg while recovering from an upper-body injury.

The Ducks are leaving for Minnesota on Friday without Silfverberg, who was injured late in their 2-1 victory over Colorado on Thursday.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Silfverberg left Thursday’s game in the third period, shortly after a hit from Colorado’s Nikita Zadorov, and is considered day-to-day. Silfverberg’s head is believed to have hit the ice but it is not known if he suffered a head injury.

Anaheim recalled right wing Corey Tropp and defenseman Shea Theodore from its AHL affiliate in San Diego.

Silfverberg has 13 goals and 16 assists in a strong season with the Pacific Division-leading Ducks. The Swede is on pace to surpass his career highs in goals and assists.

Silfverberg has teamed up with All-Star center Ryan Kesler and Andrew Cogliano on the Ducks’ most effective line this season.