Detroit – Gustav Nyquist has worked hard during some strong efforts in games this season, hustling in pursuit of goals, more offense and the “finishing” that the Red Wings could use to win more close games.
Nyquist’s reward around the net has not always been just.
Against the Jets on Tuesday, however, good fortune prevailed. Nyquist’s big, three-point night helped the Wings take flight against the offensively powerful Jets.
His two-goal, one-assist performance put him on the scoring sheet for 60 percent of the Red Wings’ goals.
It gave him 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 28 games played. That ties him with Tomas Tatar for second in goals scored, and four behind Anthony Mantha, who has 12 and the team lead.
Nyquist is sixth in points.
The first goal he scored resulted from a big, fat rebound lying on the ice before him and the Winnipeg goalie, Connor Hellebuyck, who was scrambling in vain to move quickly from the right side of his crease to the left after making a save.
Nyquist’s go-to-the-net hustle and quickness proved integral to the scoring chance.
During the second goal, Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey glued himself to Nyquist’s back, in effect, and tried to shove him through the Winnipeg crease as the Wings forward aggressively attacked the goal.
As Morrissey moved Nyquist through Hellebuyck, dumping the goalie, a shot by Jonathan Ericsson that deflected off Martin Frk’s stick then struck Nyquist’s elbow before going in.
Lucky? Sure, but better good luck than bad, and Nyquist has his share of the latter already this season, despite producing goals and points.
“Obviously, it’s nice to get those bounces, once in a while, for sure,” Nyquist said.
“You know, when you go through slumps and you feel like you’re working hard for your chances, they don’t go in.
“So, it’s nice to get those points, for sure.”
Overall, Tuesday offered an upbeat day around the dressing room, and Nyquist reflected on it.
“It’s nicer obviously to come down to the rink after a win,” he said.
“But, again, it’s only one win, and we had a long, long slump there. So we’ve still got a ways to go and points in the standings to catch up to the place we want to be.
“It’s just one game.”
Improving on defense
Danny DeKeyser said that the Red Wings’ team defense against the offensively-minded Jets benefited from better gapping between the forwards, retreating to defend, and the defensemen.
It involves executing a quick transition from offensive forays to back-checking through the neutral zone and trying to get “on top” of attacking opponents – actually, in front of their forays, between the defender and one’s own goalie.
“From a D standpoint, I thought our forwards did a great job of reloading hard and being over top of some of their late rush guys,” DeKeyser said.
“As a D, we try to have tight gaps. But the only way we can do that is if we have forwards coming back hard and being above their second wave of players coming.”
Such play was not much in evidence in the two recent losses to the Canadiens, 10-1 on Saturday, and 6-3 on Nov. 30.
“I thought we did a good job last night of our forwards coming back hard,” DeKeyser said. “It allowed us to stay up, and if the puck gets stripped by us or whatever, we’ve got that second layer of supporting coming back.”