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Nyquist looks to get back on track

Red Wings' young forward gains confidence on Zetterberg's line

Monday, 01.20.2014 / 7:53 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Nyquist looks to get back on track
Gustav Nyquist skated for more than 20 minutes in Saturday's shootout win over the Kings. He has logged more than 20-minutes of ice time in two of his last three games. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – The call ups from Grand Rapids aren’t the only players trying to take advantage of the Red Wings recent injury hardship. With so many lineup regulars still convalescing, forward Gustav Nyquist is also looking to get on track.

Reunited with center Henrik Zetterberg this month, Nyquist is beginning to feel comfortable again on the Red Wings’ top line opposite of winger Justin Abdelkader.

“It feels great to be able to play with him, it’s a great opportunity for me,” said Nyquist, of playing with the Wings’ captain. “He’s one of the best players in the world and when you play with him you get to have the puck a lot. That’s what he does, keeps the puck away from the opponents and he makes real good plays. Obviously, when you get to play with a player like him it gives you a good confidence boost and I just hope that I can take advantage of it as much as possible.”

For a team that’s struggling to score goals, the Red Wings need Nyquist, and others, to step up soon. He’s produced five goals and 11 points in 23 games with the Wings, but since returning from a groin injury before the league’s Christmas break, Nyquist has struggled, amassing a goal and two assists in the last 10 games.

Thought he was part of the lineup late last season – when the Red Wings needed to win the last four games just to get into the playoffs – and then gained valuable experience in the playoffs, Nyquist was a victim of the salary cap at the start of this season. At the time the Wings were over the cap and needed to be compliant before opening night, and since Nyquist was the only player who could be sent to the minors without having to clear waivers, he was the obvious choice to head to Grand Rapids.

But injuries began to quickly mount for the Red Wings shortly after the puck dropped on the 2013-14 season, and Nyquist was recalled to Detroit, where he has remained since late-November.

Before Zetterberg went down with a sore lower back in early December, Nyquist skated opposite of Johan Franzen on the captain’s line. For the next dozen games, the 24-year-old Swede was paired with a host of different centers from Stephen Weiss to Luke Glendening.

However, since Nyquist has rejoined Zetterberg’s line, he’s playing far more minutes than he was earlier in the season. Nyquist has logged 20-plus minutes of ice time in two of the last three games, including a career-high 22:47 in a 1-0 loss at Anaheim last week.

“We’ve built some chemistry over the games we’ve played and I’m starting to learn more about how to play with him,” Nyquist said. “When he’s got the puck try not to be in the way too much. Just get open and he’ll find you.”

While young guys like Glendeing, Riley Sheahan, Petr Mrazek will gain experience being up with the Wings, the club is in the middle of five-game homestand – their longest home stretch of the season – and need everyone to contribute.

“I know for myself I learned a lot over the last two years when I was up and down, Nyquist said. “When you get the call down there and know you’re going to play up here is just a great feeling for a young guy and you want to make the most of it.

“It’s great to see this guys coming up right now and how well they’ve been playing. It’s great to see that they’re taking advantage of the situation.”

After Monday’s game against St. Louis, the Red Wings have 10 games left before the Winter Olympics. Getting hold of the majority of those available points would put the Wings in the thick of the playoff race.

“Last year we were pushed up against the wall to get into the playoffs and you look at the standings right now, there’s still plenty of games to play,” Nyquist said. “But it’s going to be a race all the way down to the end to get one of those playoff spots.

“We know that these games will be tough battles, tough opponents and it will be a challenge for us but for sure we need, and we want, to get a couple of wins before the Olympic break.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
T. Tatar 5 0 3 1 3
M. Green 5 1 1 -1 2
A. Athanasiou 5 1 0 1 1
G. Nyquist 5 1 0 2 1
H. Zetterberg 5 1 0 3 1
J. Abdelkader 5 1 0 -3 1
B. Richards 5 1 0 -4 1
D. Helm 5 1 0 -1 1
D. Larkin 5 1 0 -2 1
N. Kronwall 5 0 1 3 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 1 2 0 .945 1.36
J. Howard 0 2 0 .891 3.59