Darren Helm

Helm wants back in Detroit lineup for Game 2

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Darren Helm is back practicing with the Red Wings after missing a month with a sprained MCL.

Now, all he wants is to get back in the lineup.

“It’s been feeling great the last few days, been skating well,” Helm told DetroitRedWings.com. “Today felt really good, a lot better than the last couple of days. If it just keeps progressing, don’t have any setbacks than Game 2 should be a pretty good possibility.”

Helm skated with Detroit for nearly an hour on Monday, but wore a grey non-contact jersey, suggesting he’s not quite ready to return to the fold when the Wings open in Nashville on Wednesday. That said, the entire squad is eagerly anticipating getting him back in the lineup — and that includes Detroit’s head coach, Mike Babcock.

“We need Helm back,” Babcock said. “He seems to be the key to the bottom six. He plugs into the three hole and Abby [Justin Abdelkader] in the four hole. Then suddenly we’re a different hockey club depth-wise. That will be our plan. How soon we can do that remains to be seen.”

Prior to missing the last 10 games of the regular season, Helm had been centering an effective third line between Dan Cleary and Drew MIller. Helm had nine goals and 17 assists on the year, but it’s his value in the postseason that might be most important — despite the fact he’s only 25 years old, Helm has played in 64 playoff games and won a Cup with Detroit in his rookie year of 2007-08.

“I want to get out there extremely bad,” Helm said. “Watching games is no fun, playoffs is here, that’s what you play for the whole year. I’m almost there and want to get out there and help the team.”

NHL on NBCSN: Rangers, Penguins renew acquaintances on Rivalry Night

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Tonight, there’s a big Metropolitan Division showdown at Consol as the Pittsburgh Penguins host the New York Rangers. You can catch the game on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET), or watch live online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:

Rangers ‘are doing a lot of good things’

‘I wonder if that’s Crosby, what happens?’ — AV upset after McDonagh concussed by Simmonds

Malkin (lower body) to miss rest of week

Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week

 

 

PHT Morning Skate: It’s not like they robbed a bank

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley seems pretty chill about healthy-scratching Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Lance Bouma. That goes for Monahan and Gaudreau in particular, noting that they’re “great kids.”

Besides … it’s not like they robbed a bank. (NHL.com)

Uh oh, did Nazem Kadri make the throat-slashing gesture to Mark Giordano? See for yourself in the video above. (Puck Daddy)

What should the New York Islanders do with unrestricted free agent Kyle Okposo, who’s enjoying a productive contract year? (The Hockey News)

What a playoff berth would mean to the Florida Panthers. (Sportsnet)

Checking in with various teams as the trade deadline looms. (NHL Numbers)

On the Canucks using those Pavel Bure-era jerseys. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

Despite tough fight, Stars hand Wild their sixth straight loss

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The Minnesota Wild put together the kind of effort that would beat a lot of NHL teams on Tuesday. Unfortunately for that beleaguered group, it wasn’t enough to edge the Dallas Stars.

Despite generating 40 shots on goal and generating 1-0 and 2-1 leads, the Wild lost to the Stars 4-3 in overtime. With that, they’ve lost six straight games.

(The view doesn’t get much prettier if you pull away a little further, either, as Minnesota’s only won once in the last month, going 1-9-2 in their last 12.)

Ultimately, the Stars’ big guns were too powerful. Tyler Seguin generated two assists and so did Jamie Benn, who set up John Klingberg‘s overtime game-winning goal.

Again, the effort sure seemed to be there for the Wild, even if they’re far beyond the point of accepting moral victories.

As frustrating as this must be, Minnesota’s not that far from a playoff spot. Still, it has to sting to see “Close, but not good enough” as a prevailing theme as of late.

Royal beating: Lucic, Kings crush Bruins 9-2

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The Boston Bruins welcomed Milan Lucic back on Tuesday. Maybe they shouldn’t have extended such a warm welcome to the Los Angeles Kings overall, however.

You won’t see many games as lopsided as this one, at least in 2015-16, as the Kings walloped the Bruins by a humbling score of 9-2.

Lucic wasn’t just there, either, as he scored a goal and an assist in his quite triumphant return to Boston.

Tuukka Rask had a short night in Boston’s net, yet it wasn’t as if Jonas Gustavsson enjoyed his time. It was a pretty sound beating by all accounts.

This dominant win is a heck of a way for the Kings to begin an imposing seven-game road trip, which continues against the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Bruins probably want to burn the tape on this one themselves, as they’re about to head on a six-game road trip.