Rookie forward plays three games in three days for Wings, Griffins
Nyquist will head to his fifth city in five days when he rejoins the Wings in southern California Monday afternoon. The Wings, who are in a battle with the St. Louis Blues for the lead in the Central Division, will play the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Tuesday.
Nyquist scored in the Griffins’ 5-2 win over the Areos on Sunday. He also had an assist in each of the Wings’ games over the weekend – in Friday’s 4-3 win over the Kings, and Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Nashville.
Last Thursday, the Wings summoned Nyquist from Houston where the Griffins were set to play a weekend series. He played Friday and Saturday in place of injured Todd Bertuzzi (groin). But should Bertuzzi and/or center Pavel Datsyuk (knee) return Tuesday, Nyquist would likely be send down.
However, in seven games with the Wings this season, the first-year pro has impressed management and teammates alike with his speed and sensational hockey sense.
“I think Ny's going to be a Red Wing very soon,” Wings forward Danny Cleary said. “He's a good young player, he's had a good season in Grand Rapids. I know what kind of player he is.”
Nyquist's outstanding rookie season hasn’t gone without notice in the American Hockey League, either, as he was only Griffins’ player selected to the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic in January. And he continues to remain in the top 10 of AHL scoring with 20 goals and 35 assists in 54 games.
“He's going to be a great player,” said goalie Joey MacDonald, who has played with Nyquist in Grand Rapids this season. “He's got some great hands, got some good poise with the puck. He's a passer. Sometimes he should shoot, but he'll learn with the game once he gets playing (here). He reads the game well. He's a great passer, he sees the whole ice. That's why he's a top prospect. It won't be too long before he's here for good.”
A two-time Hobey Baker Award finalist, as the nation’s top college hockey player, at the University of Maine, Nyquist no longer feels the jitters of playing in the NHL as he did when he made his debut in November.
“I don’t feel quite as nervous as I did before, you know it’s a lot more comfortable now, you’ve met the guys now and it’s a lot of fun to come up here,” he said. “Everything is faster, but at the same time everyone is a better player, too, and that makes it easier to play out there, too. You’re playing with the best players in the world and that helps a lot, but obviously it’s a little adjustment.”
While his goal is to help the Wings win games, he knows that his role is much different than in Grand Rapids where he skates on the top forward line and on the first power play unit.
“I’m just trying to do my best, obviously it’s a little different,” said Nyquist, who skates with Cleary and Justin Abdelkader in Nashville. “Down there you may play some more minutes and here it’s a different kind of role, but it’s still awesome to be up here and playing with these guys.”
CLEARY UPDATE: Cleary had his aggravatingly sore left knee drained for a fourth time Sunday.
The two Baker’s cysts, which formed a few months ago behind his knee have been a source of concern for much of the season for Cleary, who said prolonged rest is likely the only thing that will alleviate the often-excruciating pain.
“Trying to manage it the best I can here until we get to the playoffs and then do what I can,” Cleary said. “It's been sore. Is it getting better? I don't know. We'll see. It'll be fixed at the end of the year, let's put it that way.”
It’s helped some that Cleary has taken some practices off lately, something he hopes to continue to do.
“Yeah. I've been doing that a little bit lately,” he said. “It was touch and go, depends on the day I guess.”
Cleary expects that the knee will be drained a fifth time before the end of the season.
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