In advance of the Preds' series with the Detroit Red Wings, OtF will be taking a look at three Red Wings who fly under the radar but could have a large impact on the series. First up: Darren Helm
At this point, as shocking as it is, you are probably aware that the Nashville Predators head into the playoffs with the best power play in all the land. It has the potential to play a major role in the series, and if the Wings (especially Todd Bertuzzi or Justin Abdelkader) are undisciplined, Detroit could be in for some long nights. The Red Wings' penalty kill finished 18th at 81.8%, but they do have somewhat of an ace in the hole: lightning quick penalty killer Darren Helm.
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After the jump, see a scouting report on Helm, and perspectives on how he changes games from a few folks who cover the Wings.
Courtesy of everyone's favorite, JJ from Kansas of Winging It In Motown, here's what you can expect from Helm:
The only way Darren Helm could be a more-perfect prototype for a third-line energy/grinding/PKing center is if he had been born with a full playoff beard. Darren Helm has exactly two gears:
1. Wait for turn to come off bench
2. AAAAAAAAHHHHHH! SKAAAAAATE SKATE SKATE SKATE SKAAAAAAAAAATE! RAAAAAAAAAGH!
Helm is a dogged defensive center who, despite a relative lack of size, more than makes up for that when attacking bigger blueliners with outstanding balance, footwork, and agility. He consistently takes good angles and makes sure that he has his primarily lane assignment handled, as well as usually having a secondary lane covered with his stick as he pressures the puck in his own zone. When Helm does get caught chasing a little by a very good passing game, his speed can often make up for those mistakes before offenses can capitalize on them. Although he lacks the goalscoring finish of a truly dangerous PKing forward like a Zach Parise, Helm has surprisingly good hands and can often turn a one-on-three shorthanded rush into an extra 10-15 seconds worth of penalty killing and often catches players from behind to destroy the other team's breakout and turn it into Red Wings' transition. It is impossible to watch Darren Helm take a shift and not want to work harder.
Next, here's Tyler from the Triple Deke:
Helm plays the role of the ultimate energy guy. He never takes a shift off and presses the opposition from the moment he hits the ice. He is Detroit's best penalty killing forward, and because he's usually the fastest player on the ice, that makes him a perpetual threat to score short handed .... except he has nearly no scoring touch. Helm is not a huge threat offensively, so most of his scoring chances come as the result his work On The Forecheck (I'm sorry). Datsyuk and Zetterberg's lines will still face the toughest matchups defensively, but when Helm ends up out there against the oppositions top-end talent, he isn't a liability.
He has been out for a couple of weeks with a knee injury and is expected to be back for Game 2.
So there you go. When Nashville's on the power play, and Helm is pressuring the point men (particularly Roman Josi or Sergei Kostitsyn), a simple mistake like the puck bouncing over a stick and out of the zone could lead to disaster, not to mention various turnover possibilities when Helm is on the forecheck and, say, Kevin Klein is trying to exit the zone...