The 2014-15 season is only two games old for the Detroit Red Wings, but forward Gustav Nyquist is showing no signs of a slump in his first full season in the NHL.
After a logjam at forward at the beginning of last year, the Red Wings were forced to send Nyquist to the Grand Rapids Griffins. He was called up on Nov. 21 and took advantage of his call-up by scoring two goals in leading the Red Wings to a 4-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Nyquist led the team in goals with 28 despite playing just 57 games last year. The closest was Tomas Tatar with 19.
Nyquist had an unusually high shooting percentage last year at 18.3 percent. To put that in perspective, the average for last season was 8.89. So coming into this season, the odds of his offensive numbers dropping were pretty high. Certainly, there was no way he was going to be able to sustain such a high shooting percentage, especially now that the rest of the league knows who he is.
However, in two games this season, Nyquist has two goals and a shooting percentage of 50 percent. Obviously, this is a very small sample size, but it’s a good indicator Nyquist’s scoring output from last year was not a fluke.
Goal No. 1
Nyquist’s first goal was a direct result of a heads-up play from Darren Helm. Helm found Nyquist on the opposite side of the net uncovered and was able to beat Tuukka Rask on the power play to score the game-winning goal.
Nyquist was able to find a soft spot in the slot while the defense was focused on the puck, and he banged in a point-blank opportunity.
Goal No. 2
Nyquist’s second goal are the kind of goals Red Wings fans should expect to see more of. Detroit was able to catch the Anaheim Ducks on a change, and Henrik Zetterberg hit Nyquist with a long, stretch pass on the left side. Nyquist faked the slap shot to get Frederik Andresen to go to his knees and he wristed it over the left shoulder of Andersen to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead. That’s a goal-sorcerer’s goal, as Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels described it.
Nyquist has started the season on the top line with Zetterberg and Johan Franzen. The injury to Pavel Datsyuk caused coach Mike Babcock to shuffle the lines a bit, as there were talks of Darren Helm playing on the wing of the top line with Datsyuk and Zetterberg.
However, Nyquist has made the most of his time on the top line and could continue to see first-line minutes should he continue to produce.
Niklas Kronwall told MLive.com’s Brendan Savage that Nyquist probably could have scored another goal against the Ducks.
He’s had a really good start. He’s creating chances. Smart player. And he’s a sniper. He scores when he gets the chance. Tonight he probably could have had another. He played well tonight.
Nyquist praised Zetterberg for the setup to the goal.
They went for a change and Hank made a great pass up to me far side and I just tried to fake him down, put it high. It was nice to see it go in.
The Red Wings are no doubt happy with the continued production they are getting from Nyquist, and it will be interesting to see if Nyquist can eclipse his scoring numbers from last year.
Tom Mitsos is a writer from Michigan who covers the Red Wings and the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, for The Hockey Writers.