Helm Injured as Red Wings Fall to Predators in Game One

Detroit forward Darren Helm returned from injury only to suffer a new one, leaving Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup between the Red Wings and the Nashville Predators before the Predators earned a 3-2 win.

Helm missed the final ten games of the regular season with a sprained MCL. Tuesday’s playoff opener was his first game back but he cut his forearm on Andrei Kostitsyn’s skate in the first period and immediately left the ice.

He was taken to Vanderbilt Medical Center for unspecified surgery during the game. Detroit head coach Mike Babcock would later say “We don’t know to what extent or how severe, if any tendons or anything were cut we don’t know but it was pretty severe.”

The Predators were already up by a goal when the injury happened. At 6:59 of the period, Paul Gaustad threw the puck from the left corner to the front of the Detroit net, where it deflected off defenseman Brad Stuart and past goalie Jimmy Howard to make it 1-0.

Detroit got on the board at 2:29 of the second period. Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne knocked aside a Niklas Kronwall shot from the blue line but Henrik Zetterberg got to the loose puck and knocked it in behind Rinne for a power play goal.

The Predators regained the lead with 7:31 to go in the second when Matt Halischuk‘s long shot deflected off the outstretched stick of Gabriel Bourque and floated past Howard.

Bourque added another with 8:25 left in regulation, snapping a shot over Howard’s glove after he was left all alone in the slot.

Tomas Holmstrom knocked home a loose puck from the edge of the crease on a power play with 2:07 remaining to make it 3-2 but the Red Wings would be unable to tie it, even with a late six-on-four manpower advantage.

The Red Wings finished the night with two goals on eight chances with the extra attacker. Nashville was scoreless in six power play tries.

Howard finished the night with 23 saves on 26 shots while Rinne stopped 35 of 37 shots.

In the closing seconds of the game, Nashville captain Shea Weber grabbed Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg by the sides of his head and slammed his face into the glass, earning a two-minute roughing penalty. The NHL has yet to announce whether they will review the play for a possible additional penalty.

Game Two between the teams will be Friday night.


The Red Wings scratched forwards Gustav Nyquist, Jan Mursak, Chris Conner and the injured Patrick Eaves, defenseman Jakub Kindl, and goalie Joey MacDonald.

Postgame: Red Wings @ Predators – Game 1 – 4/11

I want to start off with the end of the game and Shea Weber‘s manhandling of Henrik Zetterberg, but I still can’t find the words for that.

It was just such a stupid play by a player who’s good enough not to need to do that. It was so blatant and has no place in the game, but #BecauseItsTheCup I don’t have any faith in the NHL to deliver an appropriate punishment.

Speaking of punishment… I had the FSD feed so I didn’t see Mike Babcock‘s in-game interview but I saw that he criticized the officiating, basically saying they were calling things just to get noticed by Gary Bettman, who was in the arena for Game One. Will he be fined for it? If so, TPL and I are already talking about a HockeyRodent-like fundraiser to cover the cost.

I just posted the question of whether or not a better-officiated game would have prevented Weber’s actions. I personally don’t think it would have, as we’ve seen many times that players aren’t afraid to take a penalty in the final seconds because it won’t actually hurt their team. In Weber’s case, if a penalty had been called it would have been at 20:00, with no time on the clock for the Wings to do anything with it. He wasn’t taking advantage of a poorly-officiated game, he would have done that anyway.

As for the rest of the game…

This could have gone Detroit’s way, so it’s disappointing that it didn’t. That said, they didn’t learn from what worked for them so they kind of deserved to lose.

Two of Nashville’s three goals were incredible luck that the Red Wings couldn’t duplicate. Those breaks happen, can’t do anything about it. That said, both of Detroit’s goals were scored by getting bodies around the net and knocking in a rebound, yet the team seemed afraid to throw the puck at the net and see what happened. They spent too much time looking for the perfect play. Unfortunately, that’s a common issue for the Wings.

Also unfortunate, the injury to Darren Helm in the first period. He caught a skate to his arm in what looked like a play very similar to what injured Mike Modano last season. He reportedly had surgery at Vanderbilt Medical Center, so if it is indeed like Modano, he’s out for the playoffs.

With Helm back out, it would appear that Gustav Nyquist will jump back into the Wings’ lineup. I have to imagine that Justin Abdelkader slides back up to third line center, with Cory Emmerton taking over centering the fourth line and Nyquist taking Emmerton’s spot on fourth-line wing. I wish the Wings could swap Emmerton for Chris Conner but they’ll want a natural center on that line so I don’t see that switch happening. I’m told that Conner did play center at Michigan Tech but I don’t think that’ll be enough.

If the Wings can get the bounces that Nashville got tonight in Game Two, or at least prevent the Predators from getting them, while still playing just as good of a game, they’re going to get a win. If the Wings can win Game Two, it becomes a five-game series with Detroit having home ice. Pressure is still on Nashville here but a win for the Wings tonight would have bought them a lot of breathing space that they don’t have now.

Red Wings Lose Helm for Playoffs

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Thursday that center Darren Helm will miss the remainder of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Helm underwent successful sugery at Vanderbilt Medical Center on Wednesday night, repairing lacerated tendons in his right forearm. The injury was suffered midway through the first period of Game One of Detroit’s Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup with the Nashville Predators, when Nashville forward Alexander Radulov‘s skate came up and caught Helm’s arm.

He is expected to make a full recovery in time for the team’s 2012 training camp in the fall.

On Cleary and Playing Through Pain

Craig Custance sent the Red Wings Twitterverse into a bit of a spin this afternoon with a tweet about Detroit forward Danny Cleary‘s status:

Dan Cleary says he’s about 50 percent. Will play game 1 in Nashville.

The question most seem to be asking: Is Cleary at 50% better than anyone else the Wings could plug in on the second or third line?

Personally, I don’t think so. To be effective, Cleary needs to be able to skate strong, which he can’t do on one knee. He’s not Steve Yzerman, who made a legend out of doing that in 2002.

More importantly, as calming of a veteran presence as he may be, his style of play is not irreplaceable. Chris Conner could step onto the third or fourth lines and the Red Wings as a whole wouldn’t blink.

If it’s experience the Wings are worried about, they had no problem putting Cleary out in the 2006 playoffs having played a total of 10 NHL playoff games to that point. Conner sits at nine playoff games played in his career.

I understand loyalty to the guys who got you there but it’s a long season, sometimes getting you there is all they can do. When the Red Wings were beat up and had a ton of injuries, Cleary played through his to make sure the Wings made the playoffs. Now that they’re there, it’s time for someone to take over for Cleary.