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Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings: Confused Feelings About The 4th Line Centre

Detroit Red WingsThe Wings are 4-1-0 in their last 5 games. If this season is anything to go by, this is the peak before the decline, but I’m not about to expect it this time. All too often, Detroit have put together a little bit of good form, only to then see it drop to a string of losses, before we can pull ourselves out of it again. This time, I’ve decided we’re starting our charge into the playoffs. FACT. That’s makes it true now, so it’s definitely going to happen.

Let’s cut to the chase, the Wings are not the formidable force this season that they were in the last few years. Discussions go on for hours (believe me!) about why, but the main consensus seems to be the same. We lost a lot of firepower in the summer, and couldn’t replace it. The salary cap restrictions hit us too hard. We had a lot of injuries, that decimated our main scoring lines and main defensive lines, and didn’t have the depth to patch up the missing links. None of this is out of our control, however. If you sign up big name players, then they’re going to cost you salary, and you have to prepare for it, especially if you want to pin them to long-term contracts. Also, you can’t rely on a couple of offensive and defensive lines to carry the team. When these main players can’t play, for whatever reason, the 3rd/4th line players need to step up and make up the points.

However, let’s not bemoan the season too much. After all, we’re still in the a good chance at a playoff place, the run-in to the end of the regular season looks fairly kind on Detroit, and there have been some excellent players come forward in times of need.

Patrick Eaves has really proved his worth as a scrappy and hard-working forward, and deserves his place on the roster since starting the season with AHL affiliate, Grand Rapids Griffins. More impressive, however, has been the emergence of Darren Helm, as a fast, hard-working, and determined forward.

Helm is one of the quickest skaters I’ve ever seen, and his ability to breakaway is a key weapon in his arsenal. The recent game in Nashville was a classic example, as Helm, playing on a PK line, took a turnover and played it down ice. Nothing unusual, until Helm decided to chase the clearance. He put the defenceman under pressure, lifted the stick, and stole the puck, slotting it home for a shorthanded goal. Nashville really had a Nightmare on Helm Street, as that was Darren’s second of the night, and his 3rd shorthanded goal of the campaign. He’ll chase anything like an excited dog, and I’ve seen him a couple of times charge down the ice, sometimes totalling himself into the boards, if it meant forcing the opposing defence into a mistake for his teammates to capitalise on. Luckily Babcock has recognised the guy’s determination and ability, and his record of 10-9-19 is only going to improve as he gets more ice-time. Not bad for a 4th line player.

Lastly, it looks like Pavel Datsyuk is starting to regain some form. His season has been modest to say the least, and it’s nice to see him celebrating some good goals, and having the drive to steal the puck off defender’s sticks and push for goals. He totally embarrassed Kevin Klein during the Nashville game, poking the puck away from the defenceman right in front of the goaltender and slotting the puck home. Again on Sunday against Chicago, Datsyuk (the NHL leader in takeaways) stole the puck at the blueline and flew through the offensive zone, scoring a breakaway goal to round off Detroit’s 5-goal second period. It’s great to have Pavel back, firing on all cylinders.

I think I’m a little bit in love with Darren Helm.

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One comment for “Detroit Red Wings: Confused Feelings About The 4th Line Centre”

  1. Not to worry, if the playoffs started today you’d be playing the Sharks over whom, despite all that you’ve noted, you seem to have no problem beating…

    Posted by sharksfanNo Gravatar | March 8, 2010, 10:43 am

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