There is little denying the important role that Darren Helm plays on the Detroit Red Wings penalty killing unit. He wins face-offs, he puts constant high pressure on the point men, and with his speed he is always a risk to steal a puck and break-a-way for a possible shorthanded goal. However, it has been recently rumored around Detroit that Helm’s ice time could grow not only as a penalty killer and third-line center, but even on the Wings power play unit.
Some of Helm’s special-team ability has already been demonstrated when playing in overtime during the regular season. The combination of tired legs and more open ice in the 4-on-4 format gives an energy player like Helm a great advantage. While the first and second lines are normally taking the greater amount of ice time towards the end of a tight game, the third-line center Helm rests his legs on the bench–waiting for the possibility of an extra five-minute period.
So why not use his speed and high-energy style of play on the man advantage? Would it even fit with the Wings power play style?
The Wings started off the 2011-12regular season on a hot note with a solid power play and a perfect record at 5-0. However, their hot streak would eventually start to cool down as throughout the season the power play became less effective and the Wings would slip to 3rd in the Central Division at the end of the season for the first time since the 1990-91 season (ironically this is the last season Nick Lidstrom did not compete for the Wings). With newly acquired assistant coach Tom Renney at the “helm” of the power play (pun intended), there is expected to be some swift and concrete changes to the Wings man advantage.
One of the changes is rumored to be Helm possiblely along one of the half-boards, moving up and down the ice and cutting into the slot when possible. The young speedster has shown he enjoys a quick wrist shot when on break-a-ways, and that same quick release combined with his energy could give some life to a power play that last year looked almost static at times. It is no secret that head coach Mike Babcock loves the way Helm plays every minute he has on the ice and if Renney suggests putting Helm on the power play–we will see how the energy experiment plays out.