The injury bug has certainly bitten Detroit hard as Darren Helm is the latest Red Wing to take a turn on the injury carousel. He joins Andreas Athanasiou, Thomas Vanek, and Niklas Kronwall as wounded Wings, but Vanek is expected to be back for Sunday’s game. The Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James reports that Helm is expected out 6-8 weeks, but general manager Ken Holland said that no surgery will be required. Athanasiou will be out for another two weeks at a minimum while Kronwall is game to game with a bad knee. St. James writes that the Red Wings will be calling up a forward later this evening to take Helm’s place. Detroit just sent Tyler Bertuzzi back to Grand Rapids, but he could be back quicker than expected.
- Speaking of younger Red Wings, the Detroit News’ John Niyo pens a column about the emergence of youth in the shadow of injury and how they might just be exactly what Detroit needs. Niyo looks at Ryan Sproul who stepped up in the place of Kronwall and to the joy of a Red Wings fan base clamoring for an injection of youth, looks to be closer to regular play. From Niyo:
And it’s a big reason, though hardly the only one, why Sproul needs to stay right where he is. Not just in Detroit, but also in the lineup, which is sort of what Blashill promised earlier in the day. Sproul hadn’t played in seven games, the last five because veteran Niklas Kronwall was back on the ice. But with Kronwall resting that chronic bad knee again Tuesday — he didn’t look good in the 5-0 loss at Montreal on Sunday — Sproul was given another chance. At the morning skate, Blashill stuck to his pat answer about how long it’d last, saying Sproul’s job was to make sure he was “ready to jump through the window.”
Sproul had a goal and an assist in the Red Wings 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay, but it was his work on the power play that opened eyes. Sproul is known for his booming slapshot, and it was featured in both goals, one that found its way into the net. The other led to a rebound that was dished to Henrik Zetterberg from another young Wing, Anthony Mantha. Mantha has stood tall in his call up, being a net-front presence on the power play, which led directly to the goal that tied the game. There have been questions as to why Mantha hasn’t been allowed to snipe goals like he has in the AHL, but Detroit wants consistency and a two-way game out of him. As injuries pile up, however, the Wings may be better off letting Mantha play the game that’s brought him success since he played juniors: shoot the puck often. The goal scoring problem that has plagued the Red Wings for several seasons may just be solved.
Niyo argues that as Detroit sits seventh in the Atlantic and is on pace for 82 points (which would certainly be way off of a playoff spot), letting the kids play may be in the Red Wings’ best interest.