Helm promoted from fourth line to play with Datsyuk
Detroit – In search of more scoring and better play overall Tuesday against the Sabres, the Red Wings juggled the lineup in practice Monday, and Coach Jeff Blashill said it is likely to remain that way for the game.
Blashill said he is moving Darren Helm up from the fourth line to play with Pavel Datsyuk and Brad Richards on the second line.
Teemu Pulkkinen, who sat out the 2-1 overtime loss to the Panthers Sunday, will play on the fourth line with Drew Miller and Luke Glendening.
Tomas Jurco, who returned from a re-conditioning stint in Grand Rapids and played with Datsyuk and Richards Sunday, is out of the lineup again.
Brendan Smith returns on defense, in place of Jakub Kindl, who had returned to play against the Panthers after sitting for five games.
And Petr Mrazek will start a consecutive game in net, after playing Sunday, Blashill said. Jimmy Howard will play against Arizona on Thursday.
"Probably what we did today, we'll go with tomorrow," Blashill said.
"We put Helmer in that spot with Pav and Richie. It gives us a little more speed and net presence, and little more of a role on a specific line. He's been good at it before. Pav had 65 points in 63 games (last season), and a lot of that was playing with Helm.
"And it keeps that (Riley) Sheahan, (Gus) Nyquist and (Tomas) Tatar line together, as well."
Blashill had said Pulkkinen came out of the lineup Sunday because he wanted to give the reconditioned Jurco a shot playing in the top six, where his lauded offensive skills might show. Now, it is hoped Pulkkinen brings some offense to the fourth line, where Glendening has one goal and Miller has none this season.
Helm also has yet to score a goal this year, after missing training camp and four games of the season.
Blashill said Pulkkinen has had "fairly good production, and he's an element on the power play with the shot."
"We want to deliver more pucks to the net, and we think he will," Blashill said of the power play, which has declined recently and was shut out against the Panthers, when a second goal was absolutely essential for the Red Wings.
"Right now, Jurco's out," he said. "He had the opportunity last night. It's one game. But I want to put Pulkky back in. So, that's the way it goes, and we'll see."
Jurco scrimmaged a bit with Dylan Larkin on the penalty kill Monday.
Blashill said he wants to use Larkin more on the kill, and his preparation for that is currently keeping him off the power play.
All 10 of Larkin's goals are at even strength, and he is tied for the NHL lead in goals, five-on-five.
Blashill said he has talked to Jurco about a greater role on the penalty kill, too.
"If he becomes real comfortable on the penalty kill, that gets you a chance to fight your way into the lineup easier on a regular basis," Blashill said. "These are decisions that you are making, and there is so little difference between guys, it might be a little specialty skill that gets you in the lineup."