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Red Wings’ Nyquist knows the score: He needs goals

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Gustav Nyquist

Detroit – The Detroit Red Wings’ Gustav Nyquist admits he didn’t score enough goals last season.

He had just 17, after netting 28 in 2013-14 and 27 in 2014-15.

So when he began the season playing well but goal-less in four straight games, it started to eat at him a bit.

But that drought ended over the weekend, when he scored once against Nashville and twice against San Jose. With three goals in two games, Nyquist now has seven points, tying Mike Green and Thomas Vanek for the team lead.

Nyquist has a point in all but one of the Red Wings’ six games.

Coach Jeff Blashill has pointed out on several occasions Nyquist has been one of the team’s best players to start the season, thanks partly to Nyquist’s ability to win puck battles and being a factor at both ends of the ice.

But being a natural goal-scorer, finding the net had to feel nice.

“I don’t know about pressure,” Nyquist said of ending that goal-less streak. “It felt good to score those goals over the weekend. I didn’t score enough last year.”

Nyquist, 27, certainly has heard plenty about last season. But playing on a line with Darren Helm and Vanek this season, Nyquist has been creating chances and has been on the receiving end of them.

“Goal scoring, sometimes there will be slumps and it’s something you go through,” Nyquist said. “The last couple of games the puck has been going in for me and it’s nice. Every time you score, it gives you confidence.”

Extra seasoning

Fans don’t always agree with the Red Wings’ philosophy of keeping prospects in Grand Rapids for as long as possible.

From the Red Wings’ perspective, it’s best for everyone for the young players to learn and experience the pro game before reaching the NHL.

Red Wings’ Ericsson thrives with tougher attitude

When you see defensemen Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet – both of whom were out of minor-league options – and the way they’ve developed, it gives credence to keeping young players in the minor leagues until they’re fully ready.

“At any level of hockey you see a lot of mistakes when guys move up too early rather than move later,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “That’s true when a player goes from the American League to the NHL, and I look at it with my 10-year-old son. It’s a reality of life. The last thing you want is for guys to move up and struggle and lose their confidence.

“You want them to be as ready as possible.”

In Sproul’s case, the 2011 second-round pick had time to work on the skills needed to get to the NHL.

“He came with a lot of individual talent – I saw him firsthand when he first came into the AHL,” said Blashill, of when the two were in Grand Rapids. “He has a lot of talent but he’d admit he had a lot of things he had to get better at. Part of it is building your body, playing better defense, and over time he’s really matured in his game.”

Ice chips

The Red Wings are undefeated at home (4-0), matching the longest home winning streak of 2015-16 (Dec. 1-10, 2015).

…Dylan Larkin’s two-goal game was the second of his career (Feb. 4, 2016 vs. Florida, the other one).

… Vanek has scored in four consecutive games against Carolina.

…Andreas Athanasiou has scored in back-to-back games for the second time in his career (April 6-7, 2016).

…Steve Ott’s assist on Athanasiou’s goal was Ott’s first point with the Red Wings.

… Helm was plus-1 in the game, improving his season total to plus-9, tied for second in the NHL (Montreal’s Shea Weber is plus-10).

…Carolina coach Bill Peters wasn’t happy with his team’s first period. “They were quicker than us early, that was apparent,” Peters said. “They had odd-man rushes, there were a few we’d like back. Just too many easy goals and soft plays.”

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter @tkulfan