Wings’ advice to slumping Nyquist: Well, shoot

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Los Angeles — When a goal scorer is in a slump, he’s encouraged to shoot.

Just shoot, from anywhere and everywhere on the ice. You never know when a lucky bounce or leaky goaltender’s glove will get a slump going the other direction.

That’s what the Red Wings are encouraging Gustav Nyquist to do: Shoot.

Nyquist has gone 10 games without a goal. Nyquist hasn’t scored since Dec. 20 when he got the winner in a victory over Calgary.

Since then, it’s been a string of goal-less games.

But the fact Nyquist has been quiet in the shots department, also, isn’t helping him score any goals.

Nyquist has 16 shots on net during the goal-scoring drought — seven in the Jan. 2 game in Buffalo. It’s a formula that isn’t going to help Nyquist get on the scoresheet.

“When you’re not producing the way you want, our mandate to them is over-shoot and make sure we’re getting a lot of pucks to the net,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s creating some chances and doing a good job.

“Against Buffalo he (Nyquist) had the backhand on the goalie and Hank (Zetterberg) scored the goal. Those are the type of things you have to do and make sure you drive the middle of the ice all the time.

“I don’t see that he’s not doing that. It’s just about the production.”

Zetterberg is encouraging Nyquist to shoot the puck whenever there’s an opportunity.

“You’ve just got to overshoot,” Zetterberg said. “That’s the way, and not overthinking as much. When you start thinking, you’re making the wrong decision, and you’re passing instead of shooting or you’re shooting instead of passing.

“But you just have to shoot even more. Just put pucks on net and eventually a bad goal will go in, an ugly one, and you are on a roll again.”

Blashill isn’t overly concerned about Nyquist’s latest slump, given forwards Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan recently have come out of similar slumps in a big way.

“It’s just the ebb and flow of the season,” Blashill said. “Tats (Tatar) was in a similar spot there. If you don’t let it affect you mentally, you’ll get out of it and produce.”

Wanted: Energy

Nyquist’s goal-scoring slump is just the lengthiest and most apparent, but Blashill said the Red Wings need more from certain players after Monday’s 4-2 loss in Los Angeles.

A dreary, lethargic second period particularly hurt the Red Wings.

“We have to have more energy,” Blashill said. “Individually there are some guys who have to give a little more. We need some guys producing at a little higher level, some guys playing at a little higher level.

“The differences between winning and losing are so tiny, you have to make sure you’re ready to go for 60 minutes. I didn’t think in the second period we were good enough.”

Howard’s return

Goaltender Jimmy Howard made his first start since Dec. 29 and made 27 saves in Monday’s loss.

“So-so,” Howard said of his game. “It was just a complete battle out there, just trying to the best of my ability to find pucks and make saves for the guys. I came up short.”

Howard wasn’t sure if he shook all the rust from not having played in almost two weeks.

“That’s a good question,” Howard said. “The only way to get better game shape is by playing, and in order to do that you’ve got to perform.

“We’ll see the next time I get a start.”

Howard allowed a goal on a 2-on-0 rush early in the first period — on the first shot he faced — but rebounded with some good saves as the game progressed.

“I was real happy with the mental toughness he showed there,” Blashill said. “Him and I talked about hopefully the game goes his way, but it didn’t right off the bat. He gets back-doored there right off the start.

“But he rebounded, made some real good saves in the first. Unfortunately in the end, it just wasn’t enough.”