Wings Offense Picking Up Pace
The scoring influx has been a result of a number of factors, but maybe none more important than the recent call-up of 24-year old Swede Gustav Nyquist. After playing 40 regular season games with the Wings the past two seasons and playing on the team’s third line in the 2013 playoffs, Nyquist began the 2013-14 season with the Grand Rapids Griffins because of payroll difficulties the Wings were having. But after a few defensive injuries and offensive struggles that prompted the team to place Patrick Eaves and Jordin Tootoo on waivers, Nyquist received his first opportunity with the Wings this season.
Nyquist, who scored 21 points in 15 games with the Griffins, was placed on the Wings’ first line alongside Henrik Zetterberg and a struggling Johan Franzen. In his first game, Nyquist scored 2 goals, leading the Wings to a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Altogether he’s scored 4 goals and added an assist in the 6 games he’s played. The Wings are 5-1 in those 6 games. And just as he was added to the first line, Franzen began to rediscover his old self. After recording only 5 points in the month of October, one of the worst offensive months of his career, Franzen closed out November in a big, big way. He’s tallied 8 points (2 goals, 6 assists) in the 6 games Nyquist has been a part of, and after a -1 plus/minus in October, Franzen’s November saw an increase to a +5 plus/minus.
Meanwhile, team captain Henrik Zetterberg has been an offensive star all season long, currently tied for 5th in the NHL in points with 30 on the season. But the offense has come from outside of the first line as well. Center Darren Helm, coming off a back injury that sidelined him for about two years, has greatly picked up his play as of late, scoring 5 goals in his last 6 games; veteran offseason addition Daniel Alfredsson has scored 4 games during the team’s 4-game win streak; and youngsters Justin Abdelkader and Tomas Tatar have provided solid support as well.
Yet what’s quite possibly most impressive is the fact that the four-game win streak has all come in the absence of superstar center Pavel Datsyuk. A concussion has sidelined the Russian wonder (who has tallied 23 points in 24 games this season) for over a week and he remains day-to-day.
The Wings have outscored their opponents 18-4 during their 4-game win streak. And their next four games are all against struggling teams: Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Florida (2 games). After that, the Wings face Tampa Bay twice as well as the Metropolitan division leading Pittsburgh Penguins on December 14th.