Author: Joe Yerdon

Darren Helm

Red Wings newest second line center? Darren Helm


You’d think after signing Stephen Weiss in the offseason, the Detroit Red Wings questions about who would be their second line center would be through.

Instead, Weiss has struggled and is now out with a groin issue and his most recent heir-apparent on the second line, Johan Franzen, is hurting as well.

Who’s next to give the second line a go Saturday night against Tampa Bay? According to George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press it’s Darren Helm.

While Helm will start on the second line, Helm is playing in just his fourth game of the season and not quite ready for the minutes playing that line calls for.

“Is he going to play 18-plus minutes? No,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’ll have to have committee.”

That committee will involve the likes of Joakim Andersson and Luke Glendening helping split time up the middle. At least there’s always Pavel Datsyuk to make sure the first line can do their thing.

Ribeiro’s season-changing tip for Ovechkin: Shoot five-hole

Mike Ribeiro, Alex Ovechkin

Phoenix Coyotes forward Mike Ribeiro and Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin were teammates last season.

The two will face each other Saturday night in Glendale with Ovechkin perhaps benefiting from some advice imparted to him by Ribeiro last season as he told Tyson Nash on the Coyotes’ website.

“I actually told him to stop shooting high and try to go 5-hole a few times,” Ribeiro said. “And he started shooting 5-hole. The thing there is that a lot of people are scared to talk to him because he’s such a big [star] and I don’t really care. I was just telling him what I thought and it helped him to change a bit, to give different looks to goalies.”

The advice helped Ovechkin turn his season around into an MVP-winning one as the Capitals turned things around to win the Southeast Division.

As for playing against his former team, Chuck Gormley of says the Capitals will be ready for what Ribeiro has in store for them in their game tonight.

Panthers take Thomas off IR, starts against Ottawa

Tim Thomas
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The Florida Panthers finally have some good news.

John Shannon of Sportsnet reports the Panthers are taking goalie Tim Thomas off of injured reserve and will get the start in their game this afternoon against the Ottawa Senators.

Thomas has been out since October 22 with a lower-body injury. Since he’s been hurt, the Panthers have lost six games in a row including games to the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers. Thomas’ absence also coincided with the firing of former coach Kevin Dineen. In all, the team has lost seven straight.

While Thomas’ numbers haven’t been great this year (2-3-0 record, .905 SV%,  3.11 GAA) he’s been the most consistent goalie the Panthers have had all season compared to Jacob Markstrom and Scott Clemmensen.

Interim head coach Peter Horachek hopes Thomas’ return can help turn things around on South Beach.

Flames and Oilers prospects facing criminal charges

Jackson Houck

A pair of NHL prospects could be in big trouble following an off-ice incident in Vancouver.

CKNW radio in Vancouver reports Calgary Flames prospect defenseman Brett Kulak, 19, and Edmonton Oilers forward prospect Jackson Houck (pictured), 18, were each charged with assault causing bodily harm. Kulak also has a secondary charge of making threats to cause death or bodily harm. The charges stem from a house party in August.

The players are teammates with the WHL Vancouver Giants and continue to play while the charges are pending.

Kulak was the fourth-round pick of the Flames in 2012 and Houck was the Oilers’ fourth-round pick in 2013. The two players are the Giants’ top offensive players. Kulak leads the team in points and Houck leads them in goals.

According to the report, the two players have had three court appearances so far. Kulak is due back in court on November 20 while Houck won’t be back until February 28.

Good signs: Nash skates in New York, Ward takes shots in Carolina

Rick Nash

For New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes fans, today’s morning skates provided plenty of optimism.

Rangers forward Rick Nash skated with the goalies today and while that won’t help narrow down when he may come back from his concussion, it’s a positive sign nonetheless. The two-time 40-goal scorer has played in just three games this season and was hurt against the San Jose Sharks on October 8.

The Rangers offense has bounced back in recent games, but going without Nash isn’t a good plan in the long run. Concussion recovery takes time, something GM Glen Sather knows all about.

“Obviously he’s on the road to recovery,” Sather said. “He wouldn’t be skating. He still has a ways to go.”

In Carolina, goalie Cam Ward was on the ice for the first time since going out of action with a lower-body injury.

Ward took shots and got a light test to see where he was at in his recovery. The Hurricanes have won two games in a row, but are without both Ward and his backup Anton Khudobin. Justin Peters has been leading the way in goal with both of them out of action.

Carolina coach Kirk Muller says Ward could rejoin the team at practice next week.