Detroit — Just as the Red Wings have taken off recently, so has forward Gustav Nyquist.
It comes at a great time to do so.
With Anthony Mantha out for up to six weeks after right hand surgery, the Red Wings need someone to pick up some of the goal-scoring.
Nyquist has done so, ably, with five goals in the last six games.
“It’s been nice to see some of them go in lately,” said Nyquist of shots that weren’t going into the net earlier this season but are now.
Mantha was just heating up himself, also, and was tied with Tyler Bertuzzi for second on the team with nine goals (Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou each have 11 to lead) when he injured his hand in a fight against Colorado last weekend.
So this is where Nyquist has really come through — from a goal standpoint, specifically.
Nyquist has been producing offense, basically, all season.
Nyquist is tied for the team lead with Larkin, with 26 points. Nyquist’s 19 assists lead the team, so he’s definitely had a hand in the offense all season.
But it’s been the goal-scoring where Nyquist started the season slow. He only scored two goals in the first 23 games, very low by Nyquist’s usual standards.
“Obviously, I haven’t scored at the rate I’ve been wanting to,” Nyquist said. “So it’s nice to see some go in. I just have to keep it going.”
Nyquist was known more as a playmaker while playing college hockey in Maine, but some impressive goal-scoring seasons in the minors and in his first seasons with the Wings gave the impression Nyquist might develop into a premier goal-scorer.
That has never really come to fruition, though the playmaking has been evident last season, and thus far, this one.
“He’s been putting up a lot of points, not necessarily a ton of goals, (but) it’s nice to see him score,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said.
Nyquist, 29, presents an interesting situation for the Wings, as he can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
The Wings aren’t likely to re-sign Nyquist at a rate probably $5 million per year, or more, on a four- or five-year deal, given several prospects needing to advance to the NHL the next few years.
Given that, Nyquist’s name will be front and center as the trade deadline nears Feb. 25 — although that could be a bit sticky if the Wings are in serious playoff contention.
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier was expected to get a second consecutive start Saturday against the New York Islanders. It’ll be the first time this season Bernier has received consecutive starts.
…Defenseman Trevor Daley skated Saturday, but a return is likely still days away. Daley has been out the last four games since getting hurt in the Nov. 28 game against St. Louis.
…The Wings considered bringing back forward Valtteri Filppula last summer but decided against it. The Islanders did sign Filppula, and are seeing positive results, with Filppula, 34, providing 16 points (7 goals, 9 assists) in 27 games.