Blashill puts stock in Helm-Glendening-Sheahan line

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Grosse Pointe Woods — A successful hockey team usually has one line that can be a real pain for opposing teams.

They make things difficult with their physicality, size, boundless energy — and, finally, the ability to score a stray goal.

The Red Wings feel they may have that type of line since they put together Darren Helm, Luke Glendening and Riley Sheahan.

“We wanted an identity in that line,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “They all play a similar type of game, they’re good defensively, can be physical, and they have offense in them.

“And they’re a good, grinding type of line.”

Blashill watched the Tampa Bay Lightning line of Ryan Callahan, Valtteri Filppula and J.T. Brown wear down the Red Wings last week and felt it was important to have a similar line in his lineup.

“I walked out of there and thought we have to find a line, especially at home, who can make it hard on the other team’s best players,” Blashill said.

The Glendening line was matched largely against Colorado’s scoring line centered by Gabriel Landeskog on Friday and kept the Avalanche trio off the scoresheet.

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“When they can make them (opposing line) stay in the defensive zone the whole time, that’s a real advantage for us,” Blashill said. “If not, they can provide energy and they’re a great penalty killing line.”

Helm had a season-high nine shots on net Friday.

“Sheahan and Glendening were forechecking real hard and giving me opportunities,” Helm said. “We definitely make it harder on the other team’s defense and have a lot of speed on that line. Guys that will forecheck and get in on the play and be gritty.

“We tried to kind of work this line a few times at the start of the season and things didn’t click. But the last couple of games, things have been rolling a little bit and maybe that’s what we needed, a little confidence as a group, and to find our identity.

“Last night was a good example of what we can do.”

Ericsson out

The Red Wings will be without defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (lower body) for Sunday’s game against Boston.

Ericsson was hurt late in Friday’s game and didn’t finish. He didn’t practice Saturday, and with another game Monday in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders, it’s doubtful Ericsson would be ready to play with the quick turnaround.

With Ericsson questionable the Red Wings can play either Jakub Kindl, a healthy scratch against the Avalanche, or Xavier Ouellet, who was recalled Saturday from Grand Rapids.

Kindl skated with Alexey Marchennko during Saturday’s practice.

Niklas Kronwall (knee) didn’t practice Saturday after his knee didn’t respond to skating the day before.

“It’s a matter of getting into game shape,” Blashill said. “It’s difficult to do when you’re not practicing. We’re going to have to take it day by day. He didn’t feel as good yesterday (Friday), so he didn’t skate today.

“Hopefully he can get to where he can skate on consecutive days and get back into game shape.”

Richards' milestone

Sunday’s game will be the 1,100th of forward Brad Richards’ career.

Richards, 35, is in his 15th NHL season and admits the time has flown.

“It goes by quick,” Richards said. “I don’t feel and I don’t look at myself as old, but when I look back at my first game and remember seeing guys my age (now) and who played that many games, I thought they were ancient.

“It’s just the circle of the league.

“I was just trying to stay up (in the league) and not get sent down. That was a big goal and things have kind of progressed.”

Richards had to smile when thinking about the 2004 Stanley Cup-winning team in Tampa Bay he was on, and the fact only

Richards, Vincent Lecavalier (Los Angeles) and Dan Boyle (New York Rangers) are still in the NHL.

“It’s just the three of us, and it was only 11 years ago,” Richards said. “They kick you out quick.”

Blashill feels Richards has fit in nicely with the veteran leadership of Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg on this roster.

“As hard as he works every day and the attention to detail he pays every day, he’s been real good,” Blashill said. “He’s calm in all situations. He doesn’t get rattled. He’s been a real winner.”

Bruins at Red Wings

Faceoff: 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Joe Louis Arena.

TV/radio: NBC; 97.1,1270 

Outlook:   Boston has won the previous two games, including a 3-2 shootout win at Joe Louis Arena…C Patrice Bergeron (undisclosed injury) missed Saturday’s game in Minnesota and is listed as day-to-day.