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Red Wings' Nyquist eager to play with Datsyuk

by Brian Hedger
DETROIT -- It's a move that was made out of necessity, with the Detroit Red Wings limping to the finish line with a multitude of injured veterans.

However, it looks like rookie forward Gustav Nyquist might get a chance to play right wing on a line with star Russian center Pavel Datsyuk and veteran power forward Todd Bertuzzi -- at least to start Monday's game against the Washington Capitals.

Nyquist was with them for Detroit's morning skate at Joe Louis Arena on Monday, while veteran Danny Cleary was put on the right side of the a re-tooled third line that will be missing injured center Darren Helm (knee sprain).

"Depends how he plays," Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland said when asked if Nyquist might stick in the NHL. "He might be (with Datsyuk and Bertuzzi) for a shift. It all depends. Nyquist has played very well in the American Hockey League, but that's the American Hockey League. We're trying to roll 3-4 lines and Cleary is a guy that can play up and play down. You put Cleary and (Justin Abdelkader) and (Drew Miller) together and it's a real good third checking line."

Putting the talents of Datsyuk, Bertuzzi and Nyquist together also could be interesting. Nyquist is one of the AHL's top scorers this season and recently has shown flashes of his impressive skillset with the Red Wings.

He's yet to score a goal, but the 22-year old Nyquist has 3 assists and a plus-1 rating in eight games -- including assists in two of his last three games.

"He's young and has lots of skill and fresh legs," Datsyuk said. "We don't need to match (skills). We need (to) help each other. He's (got) good skill and (he's) fresh and exciting ... what we needed. It's the end of the season. Everybody is getting tired and has lots of injuries. I think he helps us a lot."

At least that's what Nyquist is hoping to do.

"It's a great opportunity for me and that's what I want to be down the road," he said of getting a shot to play in the top-six forward group. "It's a good start to kind of get a feel for it and hopefully I'll take advantage of it tonight."

His previous eight NHL games have given Nyquist added confidence each time he now suits up for the Red Wings.

"It helps every game you play up here," he said. "You learn something new every game and it feels a lot better now than at the start of the year, especially playing a lot of minutes down in Grand Rapids. That helps a lot."

Should he start the game flanking Datsyuk, that means Nyquist could find himself on the ice at the same time as Capitals star Alex Ovechkin -- who has been known to abuse many opponents, let alone rookies.

Nyquist knows he'll have to be aware of who's on the ice for Washington and also that his opportunity to play with Datsyuk could be short if it doesn't pay dividends.

"We're hoping Nyquist can do some things, but obviously if we're in the first period and there's no magic or no chemistry, then the coach will make changes," Holland said.
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