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Nyquist earning praise for strong offensive play

By Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

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Nyquist earning praise for strong offensive play
Whether he plays on the top line or the third line, Red Wings rookie forward Gustav Nyquist has had a positive effect on the Detroit offense.

DETROIT -- It took less than 20 games with the Detroit Red Wings for someone to capitalize the 'Q' in Gustav Nyquist's name.

A creative Red Wings fan made it "NyQuist," like a certain cold medicine with a similar name in an edited picture that made its way around fan circles online. Next to a bottle labeled "NyQuist Cold and Flu" is the slogan: "The Swedish skating, passing, dekeing, dangling, scoring, best production you ever got from a rookie in a long time … player."

As it's turned out over the last month, with the Red Wings' offense sputtering a bit, the 22-year old Nyquist has been just what the doctor ordered at times. He's been noticeable in most games and his growing confidence is starting to stand out each time he goes over the boards.

Have even the talent-laden Red Wings started to notice?

"Especially when he has the puck, he's able to hang onto it and show some poise and not throw it away," Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "He might take a check or fight a guy off to get possession of the puck. I think we've seen that in the regular season and in the playoffs, too.''

Gustav Nyquist
Gustav Nyquist
Center - DET
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 1 | +/-: 1
After totaling one goal and six assists in 18 regular-season games, Nyquist will play his third Stanley Cup Playoff game Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena when the Red Wings host the Nashville Predators in Game 4 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC). The Red Wings trail the series 2-1.

He'll likely start on Detroit's third line, but there's no guarantee he'll stay there. The highly-skilled Nyquist has been moved up the lineup several times in his brief NHL career, including a couple different stints playing with Detroit star center Pavel Datsyuk. It happened most recently in Game 3 on Sunday in Detroit, when the Red Wings' offense was sluggish through the first half of the game.

After Nyquist joined Datsyuk and fellow Swede Johan Franzen, the line started hanging onto the puck longer and creating more scoring chances -- especially in the third period, when the Wings outshot the Predators 19-4. The argument could be made for Nyquist to stay on that line, but it won't be Nyquist leading the rally.

After spending most of his first professional season putting up impressive numbers for the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League (22 goals, 26 assists in 56 games), Nyquist is thrilled to be anywhere in Detroit's playoff lineup.


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"Whenever I get out there I try to do my best, and whomever I'm with I'm just happy to be out there to help the team out as much as possible," Nyquist said. "It's always fun when you get out there with players like [Datsyuk and Franzen]. They are obviously two of the best players in this League, so it's fun. At the same time, playing with [Justin Abdelkader and Danny Cleary] on the third line … I thought we played well and it's fun to play with those guys, too."

Cleary appears to be on Datsyuk's line to start Game 4, with Todd Bertuzzi sliding down to play right wing on the third line with Abdelkader at center and Nyquist on the left side. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is looking for the right combination on the third line to help offset the loss of injured center Darren Helm (arm surgery), who will miss the rest of the playoffs.

Nyquist -- who hasn't scored a point in his previous two playoff games -- has set up a number of opportunities and said his game does change a little bit when he's not with Datsyuk.

"The big thing for me if I play with [Datsyuk and Franzen] is maybe I try to go to the net as much as possible to try and create space for them, because they're very good at cycling the puck down low and making plays from there," Nyquist said. "When I play [on the third line], maybe I get to have the puck a little bit more in the corners and try to be creative from there."

In either role, he's making his presence felt. Datsyuk has noted Nyquist's skating ability and "fresh legs" as a boost for Detroit's offense, while Abdelkader said the rookie's skillset also works for a checking group.

"He's a good player," Abdelkader said. "You can tell. He's just confident with the puck and really skilled. We're more of a grinding line, north/south, but he still does a lot of the same things. When he had a chance to play with the top guys, he did good and he's working hard, so he fits in. He's another Swede. So, just add another Swede to the mix."

Quote of the Day

A piece of scar tissue breaks off, pinches the nerve, and every time you move your leg it's almost like having a root canal in your stomach and groin.

— Detroit Red Wings center Stephen Weiss on his sports hernia surgery