Detroit — Center Darren Helm is back.
Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson could be back Wednesday.
And goaltender Jonas Gustavsson could be back later this week.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock finally might be getting a healthy roster on the ice.
Well, he thought he was.
Then goalie Jimmy Howard re-injured his left knee, which could keep him out of the lineup Wednesday. General manager Ken Holland saying Howard is day to day.
But seeing Helm on the ice for 15 minutes in Monday’s 4-1 loss to St. Louis, and knowing some others are close, improved the Wings’ outlook as they try to stay in the playoff picture.
“Everybody is putting it upon themselves to step up and do what they can to win hockey games,” said Helm, who played his first action since injuring his groin Dec. 30. “I’m not any different. I want to make sure we win and make the playoffs. Every game is important.”
Helm is no stranger to being hurt. He missed the first 14 games because of a lingering back issue, played the next 16, then hurt his shoulder and missed 11.
“I’m a veteran of being injured,” Helm said. “There’s nothing you can do about it, that’s the first thing I tell myself. You do what you can to get healthy, and stay positive.”
Babcock was especially happy add Helm to the lineup.
“When he’s going, he’s a very impactful player for us,” Babcock said. “We could use some goals.”
Ericsson (ribs) has been out since Dec. 23, while Gustavsson (groin, out since Dec. 28) is splitting time with Petr Mrazek during practice.
Alfredsson on way back
Daniel Alfredsson (back spasms) began a rehab program in the weight room, and is optimistic he’ll return soon.
“Very encouraging,” Alfredsson said. “(The spasms have) settled down pretty good and I’m hoping to get back on the ice the next couple of days.”
Alfredsson missed his fifth straight game after being forced out of the lineup Jan. 11.
Helm replaces forward Cory Emmerton, who hurt his hand Saturday against the Kings.
... Veteran Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is Babcock’s assistant for Team Canada at next month’s Sochi Olympics.
“He’s been to 100 Olympics,” Babcock said. “You have to be older than God to be in that many. He’s a good man, loves hockey and he’s passionate.”