DETROIT — As the top two goal scorers for the Red Wings, forwards Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist hope past playoff experience will help fuel their production heading into this postseason.
Losing in five games to the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs last year was less than successful. Combining for zero points and a minus-4 rating was frustrating given the success that both Tatar and Nyquist had prior to that series. But Nyquist said there’s something to be learned from those struggles as experience can go a long way.
“Well yea, obviously wasn’t good enough last year in the playoffs,” Nyquist said. “I don’t think as a team we came out to the level of play we wanted to against Boston. They played real tight. They were strong against us, had a good series against us, but I think experience is the big thing for a lot of us young guys. Every playoffs, every year you go through, you learn something new and get more and feel more comfortable come playoff time. You know you’ve been there before so hopefully I can take that experience into this year.”
Tatar (29) and Nyquist (27) finished first and second on the team in goals and added 27 assists apiece, significantly improved from last season’s numbers. While their first-round series last season was below-average, Tatar said just having been there once before will make the second time around that much easier.
“Well last year’s matchup was pretty hard, Boston played really, really good hockey,” Tatar said. “(It was a) good experience, it was first playoff in NHL and it’s kinda nice. I had the experience last year, so I know what it is about. Coming with new playoffs, it’s the second one, it’s going to be a little different I hope.”
Nyquist agreed, referring to how much more difficult it is to find time and space in the playoffs compared to regular season games.
“Everything’s tighter, you’ve gotta fight for every inch of the ice,” Nyquist said. “All the goals are gonna be scored on the inside in front of the net. You’ve gotta pay the price to get in there, that’s why the playoffs are so much fun. This is when it all matters. It’s a new season here and we’re excited to go down to Tampa today and get ready for them.”
The style of hockey varies greatly in the playoffs versus that of the regular season. Nyquist said there is a significant difference in how the game is not only played, but also officiated in April than it is during the middle of the season.
“Generally I think so overall in the playoffs, the games I’ve played that’s what I’ve noticed and even coming down the stretch a little bit when everyone’s fighting to get into the playoffs I think it’s a little bit of a different style of hockey than maybe say in January or something like that,” Nyquist said. “I think the refs probably let go of some of the calls they would have made maybe earlier in the season. It’s just tougher play and that’s just the way it is. It’s fun.”
Heading into the match-up with the Tampa Bay Lightning, both forwards look to elevate their game.
This postseason should be different than in the past. For Nyquist, he has been far more consistent than in any other point of his career, as he hasn’t gone more than three games without a point since October 25, and has four goals and five points in his last 10 games. Conversely, Tatar has 12 multi-point games this season and can produce in bunches. Combined, Tatar and Nyquist have scored three goals and produced five points in the Wings’ four games against the Lightning this season. For the team to have success in the postseason, both young stars will have to produce when it matters most, which shouldn’t be a problem since they’ve been doing it all season long.
Only five Wings have appeared in every game this season, two of which are Tatar and Nyquist. A constant presence in the lineup, the duo brings continuity to the top two forward lines as well as the power-play units. This time around, the tandem will be far more reliable and a significant presence as the series gets underway later this week.