Detroit Red Wings weekly: Nyquist’s bid for the Olympics

The Detroit Red Wings (24-19-12) wrapped up another week of exciting hockey with a blowout loss to Philadelphia Flyers followed by a shootout win and overtime loss to the Washington Capitals. The three points accumulated has put the Wings back in the same position they finished last week in; 8th seed in a crowded Eastern Conference playoff race.

Here is my plus/minus report to breakdown the Red Wings’ successes and failures from the past week.

The Pluses

detroit red wings

Nyquist celebrates with teammates after scoring his third goal of the game against the Capitals. (Photo Credit: Greg Fiume / Getty Images)

+ The Goose is Loose (Part 3) – Hat Trick Edition

Gustav Nyquist can’t be stopped, for the 2nd week in row he claims a plus mark in my weekly. Nyquist is finding the scoring areas and putting the puck in the net. With his hat trick against the Capitals this afternoon, he now has 8 goals in 9 games.

The hot streak comes at a perfect time for Nyquist as he is trying to make his case to replace Johan Franzen on Sweden’s Olympic roster. After his performance these past two weeks it would be a shame if he didn’t get the call. I mean Gus has already proved he can fill in for another Olympian on the Red Wings’ roster, Pavel Datsyuk.

+ Not Backing Down

In both games against the Washington Capitals the Red Wings conceded the opening goal. In the 127 minutes of hockey, the Wings held onto the lead for less than a period (19 minutes and 26 seconds). While the Capitals held control of the scoreboard for 44 minutes and 41 seconds.

The message is simple. The only thing that matters is the score at the end of the game because at the end of their home-and-home series both teams came away with 3 points. Keep crashing the net and good things will happen. Even in the Philadelphia shutout, if a few bounces would have went the Wings way it could have been a totally different outcome.

The Minuses

– PK Woes

The penalty kill has given up 12 goals in the last 12 games. The icing on the cake came today as Alex Ovechkin slapped home the game winner in overtime on a power play. It was the third power play goal of the game for Washington. The PK unit focused all their attention on Ovi and it backfired.

Washington Capitals

Ovechkin is a superstar, but was single covering him on penalty kills the best solution? (Photo Credit: Patrick McDermott / NHLI via Getty Images)

Single covering Ovechkin on the Capitals man advantage left the puck carrier wide open. This is the NHL, leave anyone open and they will make you pay. It just didn’t make much sense to me. At least pressuring the puck can create turnovers to get out of our own zone. This scheme led to dangerous shots by the open puck carrier and that created quality scoring chances almost every time.

I have to chalk this minus up on the game planning. The PK wasn’t working and Mike Babcock refused to make any in-game adjustments.

– Not Sunny in Philadelphia

I’ll keep this minus short and simple. A 5-0 shutout is never good, let alone getting shutout in three consecutive road games. I’m glad that streak is over but the plus/minus report doesn’t easily forget about the past.

+/- Rating = Even

It was another up and down type of week. The 1-1-1 record is as average as you can get. Average isn’t good enough if the Red Wings are going to make playoffs.

Here’s to hoping they can do better this week before heading into break for the Winter Olympics.

detroit red wings

The last meeting of the regular season between the Wings and Canucks. (Photo Credit: Jeff Vinnick / Getty Images)

February 3: Vs. Vancouver Canucks

7:30PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit Plus

Standings: (27-20-9) 4th Pacific Division, 8th Western Conference

Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Oct. 30, 2013 at Vancouver/Canucks 1 – Red Wings 2

Prediction: Both teams need the points, but the Red Wings are playing better hockey at the moment. Last 10 games: Wings 4-4-2, Canucks 3-7-0. Red Wings 4 – Canucks 2.

February 6: @ Florida Panthers

7:30PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit

Standings: (21-27-7) 7th Atlantic Division, 15th Eastern Conference

Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Jan. 26, 2014 at Detroit/Red Wings 4 – Panthers 5 in a SO

Prediction: Also the last meeting for these two Atlantic foes. The Panthers took three out of the four games so far. The only win the Red Wings got came on the road. So, I’m expecting a similar outcome once again. Panthers 3 – Red Wings 4.

February 8: @ Tampa Bay Lightning

7:00PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit Plus

Standings: (32-18-5) 2nd Atlantic Division, 3rd Eastern Conference

Last Meeting against the Red Wings: Dec. 15, 2013 at Detroit/Red Wings 0 – Lightning 3

Prediction: This isn’t the last time the Wings will see the Lightning.  They will met once more on March 30th. I can’t see the Wings pulling this one out with almost half the team looking forward to playing in Olympics. Lightning 3 – Red Wings 1.

One week, three games, and six points up for grabs before the highly anticipated Olympic tournament is underway. The Wings can’t afford to look ahead when there are five other teams in the Eastern Conference within two points of their last wildcard spot.

Every point counts.

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  • 547984

    Ha, you mentioned Nyquist in the last article and now he has heated up bigtime. :)

    Actually, I don’t blame the PK having a man always covering Ovi. Although it didn’t quite work out today, look at what happened. For about 70% of the time Backstrom had the puck in a wide open space and just dangled with it…he had an open shooting lane but it was an easy save for Howard every time…I think they would’ve been burned even worse had they not covered Ovi (just personal opinion). For the most part of this year the PK has been great and today they just happened to run into a team that just feeds on the PP.

    Speaking of Howard…for me he has started to fall off again after the second injury. Granted, a lot of goals weren’t his fault but recently he hasn’t shown anything that warrants Elite Goalie material, and they will certainly need him to be at his best after the Olympic break.

    And what is Datsyuk’s situation right now? Is he even close…if he doesn’t play this next week I don’t see him playing in the Olympics either (though he might, Putin will force him to!)

    I see them picking up 3 points before Sochi.

    But really, every point does count…I’m sure all fans are a bit worried by now

    • Alex Eisen

      From what I have read Datsyuk still wants to play in the Olympics. But from a management perspective the Red Wings would rather have him rest. So, if Pavel wants to play in Sochi expect him to pull on the winged wheel for at least one game this week to prove he is ready.

      I know playing for the home country in the Olympics is special and all, but if he isn’t 100% healthy then he shouldn’t play. The Wings are his employer and they can’t afford him to get re-injured during the Olympics.

      Thanks for the long comment and your loyal readership. :)