Detroit likely to start season without Helm, Samuelsson

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Sounds as though the Red Wings will play this weekend without two of their top nine forwards.

Darren Helm (back) and Mikael Samuelsson (groin) probably won’t be available for Saturday’s season-opening tilt in St. Louis, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Helm tweaked a back muscle last Thursday and hasn’t returned to the ice since. When asked if he’d be available for the Blues game, he replied “probably not.”

“I can’t bend over too well,” he said. “I have to tie my skates before I can skate around. It’s a small injury, but it bugs me quite a bit. I have to make sure I can skate before I go out there.”

Samuelsson suffered a groin strain on the opening day of camp. He described the injury as a “minor, minor thing” but, given he’s 36 and has a history of groin issues (he missed 22 games last year with a similar injury), his status is questionable.

If both players are out, it’ll force Wings head coach Mike Babcock to juggle things a bit.

Samuelsson was set to open on the second line alongside Valtteri Filppula and Johan Franzen, while Helm was going to center the third line between Dan Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi.

Justin Abdelkader seems like the leading candidate to replace Helm, while either Bertuzzi or Cleary is set to jump up to play wing on the second line.