Dany Heatley, Darren Helm

Wings hoping Darren Helm’s back improves

Detroit’s Darren Helm played in just one game last season thanks to a nagging back injury. As the offseason rolls on, he’s working on getting back into shape and still getting healthy by working out at prospect camp this week.

As Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press says, the Wings are hoping he can return to form to help solidify their situation at center.

If Helm recovers from his injury — which numerous specialists have said is not structural — then the depth chart down the middle is easy enough to pen. It’ll be Pavel Datsyuk, Stephen Weiss, Helm and Joakim Andersson.

Andersson is a restricted free agent the Wings are slowly working on getting re-signed. Meanwhile, Detroit’s overabundance of forwards is making things a bit difficult.

Detroit can have Andersson take Helm’s spot on the third line and have Cory Emmerton center the fourth line, but with 16 forwards to deal with someone’s got to go. Helm’s questionable status is forcing GM Ken Holland to hang tight and figure things out.

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
Leave a comment

They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
Leave a comment

It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: