Thursday, May 28, 2009

Red Wings joint Pens in the Finals


Brian Compton

If you go by his regular-season numbers, Darren Helm has just 23 games of NHL experience.

If you go by the past two postseasons, you'd think the 22-year-old has been doing this for years.

Helm has yet to score an NHL goal in the regular season. But his third goal of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs came at 3:58 of overtime on Wednesday night, lifting his team to a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final with a pulsating 2-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals at Joe Louis Arena.

Not bad for a kid who played 55 games in the American Hockey League this season, even though he played a big role in Detroit's run to the championship 12 months ago. Like many of his teammates, there's something about this time of year that clearly brings out the best in the native of St. Andrews, Manitoba.

"Being in Grand Rapids (the Wings' AHL team) gave me a pretty big opportunity to go down there and develop," said Helm, who scored twice for the Wings last spring and went 13-24-37 in the AHL this season. "Coming up here and getting a chance to play, it's been a great experience for me. I try to pride myself on being a key player in playoffs. That's what I tried to do throughout last year's run and this year's run, as well."

With Hart Trophy finalist Pavel Datsyuk out of the lineup with a foot injury, Helm has been one of several players to step up. Skating on a line with Mikael Samuelsson and Tomas Holmstrom, the trio kept the puck in deep before Helm found it loose in the crease, where he poked it past Cristobal Huet to create pandemonium at The Joe.

"I thought our line did a good job keeping the puck in," Helm said. "We put a lot of pressure on them. I just saw it sitting there and got a good whack on it just to make sure it went in."
Red Wings center Darren Helm, who had at least eight hits in a game for the second time in this series. He had seven in Game 4 and finished with 12 in Game 5 -- to go along with the OT winner.
"I'm going to remember that one for a while," Helm said.


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