March 4, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Darren Helm (43) during the game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Helm's Health Could Make or Break Title Hopes

The key to a 12th Stanley Cup for the Detroit Red Wings isn’t out there to be acquired from another team or in free agency. The key is in the health of one speedy individual.
 
Darren Helm’s health could spell the difference between just another postseason appearance and a Stanley Cup.
 
Helm, the 132nd pick in the 2005 NHL Draft , missed all of last season with a back injury that occurred just days before last years training camp.  It appeared at times throughout this past season that there might be a chance at his return, but setback after setback kept Helm out of the lineup.
 
Although Helm isn’t even a top-six forward on the Red Wings, he may arguably be the most important player on the team.  His energy  alone is a huge boost to a veteran Red Wings team.  He is one the leagues’ fastest and most explosive skaters.  He is a vicious penalty killer and an aggressive forechecker.  He hits. He goes to the dirty areas of the ice and makes opposing teams feel his presence.  Not only is he great at doing all of these things, he plays on a roster where very few others do, making him extraordinarily valuable.

His importance does not go unnoticed by the Red Wings management.  USA Today’s Kevin Allen reported General Manager Ken Holland and his thoughts about Darren Helm:

“He has a tremendous combination,” Ken Holland, general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, said. “There have been plenty of fast players who didn’t want to get involved physically. There have been fast players who couldn’t protect the puck, and he can do that. He just has other dimensions that make his speed more effective.”

It now appears that Helm has a good chance of competing with the Red Wings this season.  He has been making good progress and he successfully skated with the team at the development camp.  His big test: the preseason.  How will his back hold up in an actual game? How will his injury affect his play?  It will be difficult to predict, especially given the way Helm plays the game. His aggressive style is what makes him such an asset, but injuries could hinder his physical, high pace game.

What is for certain, though, is that the Red Wings need Darren Helm.  A healthy Darren Helm could be the key to championship number 12.

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