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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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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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