After seven-game absence, Helm returns for Detroit

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Darren Helm will play for the first time in 2014 tonight when the Red Wings host the Blues at Joe Louis.

Helm, who had been on IR with a groin injury, hasn’t played since Dec. 30. The layoff marked his second significant stint on the shelf this season, as he also missed 11 games with a shoulder ailment and another 14 with back issue that lingered from the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign.

Getting Helm back is a huge boost for Detroit. Mike Babcock often refers to Helm as the best third-line center in the NHL and, in limited games this season, Helm has discovered a real flair for offense. He has 11 points through 16 games, which includes seven goals — pretty impressive for a guy with a career-high of 12.

What’s more, Helm’s speed and forechecking ability should help Detroit gain some extra momentum offensively. The team has struggled to put pucks in the net recently, and has just six goals in its last five games.