Gustav Nyquist has one goal in 16 games. (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
Detroit — The Red Wings need goals; they haven’t been scoring much for a while, and forward Gustav Nyquist would appear to be one guy capable of goal-scoring.
But Nyquist is struggling, just like many others. He’s in the midst of scoring one goal in 16 games (with four assists).
“That’s how it goes sometimes,” said Nyquist after Tuesday’s practice. “You just have to live with it. I want to score and help the team as much as possible, but it hasn’t gone in for a few games.
“Or a while, I don’t even know how many games. But I try not to think about it. You just have to work hard, and sooner or later it’ll go in.”
Coach Mike Babcock wants to see Nyquist driving to the net a little more.
“We talk about it all the time; you don’t get any points in the league for style,” Babcock said. “You have to get the puck to the net.
“When you’re a pure passer and you don’t feel that’s your job, you never shoot the puck. Most of the guys with lots of assists got a whole bunch by passing it off the goalie.
“That’s not part of his repertoire, but we’re working on it and he’s working on it.”
Nyquist realizes he needs to go to the tough areas of the ice more often.
“It’s about getting those second chances on the inside and in front of the net,” Nyquist said. “Take the puck to the net more, and shoot the puck whenever you can.
“Again, it’s all hard work.
“Obviously with all the injuries we’ve had, I’ve gotten an opportunity to play more, and in key situations I feel I can score more, and that’s what I want to do.”
The second half of the season has just started, but the Red Wings do realize how tight the Eastern Conference playoff chase has become.
All they have to do is look daily at the whiteboard in the locker room by the players’ lounge and training room, which displays the standings.
“It’s always there, a constant reminder,” said goalie Jimmy Howard, whose locker is closest to the board. “It’s right in front of your face. It’s on all of our minds. Every game we play now is big, and we’re trying to get points until we get all the guys back.”
Practice ramped up
After taking Monday off after flying all night and arriving from Anaheim at 6 a..m., the Red Wings were back on the ice Tuesday, and there was a definite work ethic on the ice.
“We had a real good practice,“ Babcock said.
Several of the drills had a high level of intensity. Some were good battle drills, which Babcock wants the Red Wings to carry over into the games.
“We’re a team that structurally we do real good things,” Babcock said. “We can always compete harder. When you don’t score, you have to compete, and we’re a group that has to be ultra-competitive. We want points (in the standings).”
Babcock will not be sure about who is available and who isn’t until after Wednesday’s practice.
One optimistic player is Howard (hip flexor), who expects to be ready to play the Rangers, after sitting out Sunday.
“I don’t see why not, I practiced,” Howard said.
... Pavel Datsyuk (lower body) skated but left the ice early. Darren Helm (groin) likely won’t play Thursday. Johan Franzen (concussion) practiced but remains day to day, as is Daniel Alfredsson (back spasms), who didn’t go on the ice.
Henrik Zetterberg stayed off the ice also, but is expected to play against the Rangers.
“Just a maintenance day. He’s (Zetterberg) had a lot of them, eh?” Babcock said. “I know what we have available and let’s just plug away. We’ve spent the the entire year talking about this (injuries), let’s just worry about who is playing.”
...With forward Tomas Tatar in Slovakia for his father's funeral, the Red Wings have recalled forward Tomas Jurco from Grand Rapids.
Jonathan Ericsson (ribs) could be ready Saturday.