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Nyquist rides NHL's hottest scoring streak

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Gustav Nyquist
Right Wing  - DET
Goals: 19 | Assists: 16 | Pts: 35
Shots: 117 | +/-: 8
DETROIT – If Henrik Zetterberg was the Red Wings’ offensive MVP in the first half of the season, Gustav Nyquist has been the scoring catalyst in the second half.

Since Jan. 20, the Red Wings’ forward leads the National Hockey League with 14 goals in 20 games, while producing nearly 26 percent of the team’s goal scoring during that stretch.

The Red Wings have a 12-1-2 record when Nyquist has scored this season.

“He’s getting good opportunity but the other thing he’s doing is he’s shooting the puck, he’s got to continue to shoot the puck,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “In the National League you score by shooting, not by passing. So he’s done a good job in that area, he has to continue to do that.”

Nyquist scored two goals to help the Red Wings to a much-needed victory over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. The pair of goals gives the speedy Swede 19 total, which leads the Wings this season.

Clearly, Babcock’s persistent messaging about opportunities among the younger players has resonated with Nyquist, even though a multitude of injuries hasn’t allowed for the 20-somethings to build chemistry through consistency.

“They’ve had multiple centers because of our situation but he’s done a good job,” Babcock said of Nyquist. “When people get hurt other people get opportunity and they get big opportunity, so if you can grab hold of some of it you set yourself up.”

The Red Wings are in a fight to keep their 22 straight playoff appearance streak intact, and scoring, which hasn’t been easy over the last few weeks, will be critical to keeping the longest postseason streak among North America’s top sports leagues alive.

Obviously, Nyquist and others have benefited from the profound number of injuries that continue to cripple the Red Wings with 14 games left in the regular season. Nyquist is among 11 players currently on the Red Wings’ roster, who won the AHL’s Calder Cup last spring with the franchise’s Grand Rapids affiliate. Meanwhile, just 10 players from the Calder championship team remain in western Michigan this week.

As players like Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening, Landon Ferraro, Teemu Pulkkinen and Cory Emmerton try to find their identity in the league, they also need to produce if the Wings are to succeed at grabbing one of the final playoff spots.

“Those guys are in the individual point of their career,” Babcock said. “They’re trying to find a job and stay in the league, so be confident and play hard and make it good for yourself.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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