Red Wings offense gets some help with Thomas Vanek return

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Thomas Vanek is expected to be back in the Detroit Red Wings lineup on Sunday night when the team hosts the Calgary Flames, and it should provide a boost to an offense that has slumped since he has been out of the lineup.

Vanek has not played for the Red Wings since Oct. 25 when he was initially sidelined with a hip injury that eventually landed him on the long-term injured list.

Without him, the Red Wings have managed to score just 20 goals in the 11 games he has been sidelined, while winning only three of them. Only one of those wins came in regulation.

Before the injury the 32-year-old Vanek was off to a surprisingly great start for the Red Wings, recording eight points (four goals, four assists) in seven games, helping the Red Wings race out to a 5-2-0 start.

He signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the team in free agency after his production had steadily dropped off the past couple of years with the Minnesota Wild. Eventually his scoring this season will level off a bit (he is currently scoring on more than 30 percent of his shots, a rate that is simply impossible to maintain over any extended period of time) but the Red Wings are really struggling right now and can use any help they can get.