Detroit Red Wings: The impact of Gustav Nyquist

Detroit Red Wings

Gustav Nyquist entering the Carolina Hurricanes’ zone in his first NHL game this season (photo credit: Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

Since calling up Gustav Nyquist on November 21st, the Detroit Red Wings have won six of their nine games. His soft hands and silky moves have been a key factor to the offensive explosion the Red Wings have experienced lately.

Nyquist netted two goals in his first NHL game this season, leading to 4-3 Red Wings victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. He has scored four goals and has recorded three assists in nine games this year.

In the nine games Nyquist has played this season, the Red Wings have averaged 3.77 goals per game. Prior to his call up, the Wings’ offense was atrocious, averaging just 2.31 goals per game.

With Darren Helm’s consistent absence  from the lineup due to injuries, the Wings have not had much speed on the ice and Nyquist brings exactly that to the lineup. Along with great speed, he possesses exceptional stick skills and a high hockey intelligence.

Aside from his individual talents, Nyquist is the type of player that makes each of his teammates better. Johan Franzen has recorded at least one point in seven of the past nine games, doubling his previous point total. Tomas Tatar’s production has been on the rise as well, scoring four goals during that span.

Injuries have played a role in the Wings’ offensive difficulties this year. The team’s top three leading scorers have all missed a handful of games this season. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are both currently injured, missing seven and three games respectively. Daniel Alfredsson, the team’s third highest scorer, just came back to the lineup after missing five games due to a groin injury.

Between battling through injuries and the puck bouncing against the Wings’ favor, Detroit has experienced some struggles this season. The most noticeable struggle has been their winning percentage in one-goal games. In 14 one-goal games this season, the Red Wings are 7-1-7. Those seven overtime/shootout losses highlight their inability to score in clutch moments.

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Over the years, the Wings have been a team that thrives off of veteran players. The recent NHL trend has shown that success derives from young, raw-talented players.  It is no secret that the majority of Detroit’s scoring comes from veterans, but they have a lot of young players who have the potential to make an impact on the game.

The Red Wings’ playoff success last year, although short-lived, arose from key contributions by players outside of Datsyuk and Zetterberg. The veterans on this team can lead the team to the playoffs, but the youngsters are going to need to step it up if they look to make a Stanley Cup run.

It is unclear why exactly Nyquist didn’t become part of the lineup until late November, but it is very clear that he belongs in the NHL. He has the potential to become a great player and will not progress any further in Grand Rapids. The Wings need him to be a catalyst to the offense and hopefully the other young players will follow.

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