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X-Factor: Nyquist needs to extend heroics

Nyquist has had a six-game goal streak and a 10-game point streak

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 11:23 AM ET / News
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X-Factor: Nyquist needs to extend heroics

Gustav Nyquist
Right Wing  - DET
Goals: 28 | Assists: 20 | Pts: 48
Shots: 153 | +/-: 16
All season, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has begged his young players to grab hold of something in order to make a statement at a time when the team was ravaged by injuries.

Swedish sensation Gustav Nyquist took that message to heart.

Nyquist turned out to be another gem uncovered by the organization, chosen in the fourth-round (No. 121) of the 2008 NHL draft. Now in his second NHL season, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound forward has been an absolute force during the absence of offensive linchpins Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to injury for much of the season.

"He's got some skill, he's obviously a real good player,'' Babcock said. "He's led everywhere he's ever played in scoring. The problem with the NHL is you have to come up and grab hold of something. We called [Joakim Andersson] up for a game, and he stuck with us because he grabbed hold of something. That's what Gus had to do.''

Datsyuk has returned, but Nyquist will need to continue his offensive mastery in the Stanley Cup playoffs if the Red Wings are to have any shot at reaching the Cup finals. It doesn't appear that a letdown is imminent, since Nyquist has been among the team leaders in goals, points, plus-minus rating, game-winning goals and takeaways all season.

He realizes that must continue when it matters most.

"I don't think [Datsyuk] is going to come in and just save the whole team," Nyquist said. "We've still got to work. Obviously he's going to be our best player out there, but us other guys, we've still got to keep playing the way we've been doing."

Nyquist has been a regular on the highlight reels this season with his ability to make plays at top speed, and Babcock would prefer him playing left wing on the second line despite the temptation of having him ride shotgun with Datsyuk. It enables Babcock to spread the wealth and field four offensive lines.

"My thought process is Nyquist is playing great where he's playing, and so I don't want him deferring and giving the puck to [Datsyuk]," Babcock said. "I want him shooting it in the net.

"He's quick, generates offense, and has given us another skilled player to play on our top six."

Nyquist has had a six-game goal streak in November and a 10-game point streak (12 goals, 14 points) from March 16-April 2, the longest streak in team history since Zetterberg went 11 straight in 2011.

Nyquist is not only entertaining, but capable of leaving an opponent flat-footed. He did it to Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara earlier this month, capping a spectacular end-to-end rush that gave Detroit a 3-2 victory. He gave his teammates and coaching staff a sign of things to come in his debut on Nov. 21 this season, scoring two goals in a 4-3 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes.

"I think he's really confident and really knows how to play all areas of the ice and not just scoring goals," veteran forward Daniel Alfredsson said. "He's been great at that, but I like his work ethic, his attention to details, and just being a young guy who is leading by example for everybody."

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
8 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
9 PIT 50 25 18 7 129 128 57
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 51 18 19 25 37
H. Zetterberg 52 9 25 2 34
T. Tatar 51 15 17 -2 32
G. Nyquist 52 14 15 -2 29
J. Abdelkader 52 14 12 -4 26
P. Datsyuk 37 6 20 11 26
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 38 5 10 6 15
D. DeKeyser 48 6 8 12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 19 10 4 .932 2.03
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89