Coach Mike Babcock acknowledged this morning after a vigorous practice that Darren Helm, an important component of the Red Wing's front end, centering the third line and killing penalties, is unlikely to play this season.

"Well, he's not going to play hockey, this year, I don't think," said Babcock, who as long ago as early March thought he might see the dynamo of a center back in the lineup. "We've got to get ourselves into the playoffs and be ready to go without him."

Helm hurt his back in the training room near the end of the lockout, and his absence has meant frequent shuffling of the third and fourth lines looking for more offense. It also has meant lots of penalty killing time for the Wings' overworked stars, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

Babcock also showed two new lines, which he said will likely remain together against the Sharks on Thursday at Joe Louis Arena.

Valtteri Filppula moved to center, between Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner, for a new second line. The third line will be Johan Franzen, Gustav Nyquist and Drew Miller.

"We're hoping by doing this we can generate more offense," Babcock said, of the line changes, which will leave Datsyuk between Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader, and Cory Emmerton with Patrick Eaves and Joakim Andersson. "We feel with Fil, Bruns and Clears, that's a pretty good line. Fil's been a good centerman for us. We like what Mule's (Franzen's) doing, here. So, we're just going to spread our lineup out and go a little bit deeper.

"We need to be at the net, some more. We've got to find a way to score more."