By Michael Caples –
DETROIT – Gustav Nyquist took advantage of his final opportunity to impress the Red Wings’ coaching staff.
The 22-year-old, just months removed from his third season at the University of Maine, had two goals and an assist on Sunday afternoon in the Wings’ final tune-up before the regular season.
“He’s a good player,” coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s a real good player. He looks like he’s an
NHL player. We’ve always kind of done things the same way, we send those kids to the minors and let them play a little bit and see what we’ve got here – see how the year starts and see.
“I mean, it’s an exhibition game, let’s not kid ourselves. I’m not trying to take anything away from the kid, he was outstanding, he’s been great all camp, but the league usually gets to another level, and we’ll see what the guys we have can do. If he keeps playing so good that he’s got to be on the team, then he’ll be on the team.”
However, the native of Halmstad, Sweden, made the ‘typical’ decision for Babcock and GM Ken Holland that much more difficult with a stellar performance in his fifth preseason game.
“I always work hard and do my best out there,” Nyquist said. “I was lucky enough to score a couple goals today and set up with a great play by my linemates with Franzen and Bertuzzi; it’s pretty easy out there, they’re two great players. I had a lot of fun out there today.”
Just 1:03 into the game with the Penguins, Nyquist rushed to the front of the Pittsburgh goal and fired in a rebound from Todd Bertuzzi’s initial shot.
Nine minutes later, he collected the puck along the end boards of the Penguins’ end and skated to the left of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, drawing the attention of the Pittsburgh defense. Nyquist proceeded to fire a pass through the traffic out front, to the other side of the slot, to set up Johan Franzen for the Wings’ second goal.
With the Wings on the power play in the second period, Nyquist skated to the top of the circle and passed to Franzen, who was along the boards at the hashmarks. Franzen completed a give-and-go to Nyquist, with the younger Swede scoring on a one-timer from the slot to give Detroit a two-goal lead.
Nyquist gave all the credit to his teammates for his second marker of the contest.
“[Franzen] read me pretty well there, drew his ‘D’ in, and I popped out to the middle,” Nyquist said. “He set me up for a great shot, and Bertuzzi was in front of the net screening, the goalie couldn’t see anything, so it was good.”
While being just the latest in a long list of Swedish-born players to don the Red Wings logo, Nyquist is no stranger to North American hockey. He played three years at the University of Maine He was a Hobey Baker finalist in both his sophomore and junior seasons, and he led the Hockey East in scoring in 2009-10. Nyquist posted 50 goals and 94 assists in 144 games with the Black Bears over his three seasons.
Nyquist was a 2008 fourth-round pick by the Wings. He signed his first professional contract on March 25, 2011, after three seasons with Maine. Management had him play in eight games with the Griffins after signing, where he recorded one goal and three assists, with 14 shots.
Game notes: Patrick Eaves blocked a shot by Steve Sullivan in the first period while the Wings were shorthanded and did not return. A Wings’ spokesperson said Eaves was out with a lower-body injury. Babcock said he is day-to-day…The Wings’ coach also expects Henrik Zetterberg (upper body) to be ready for the home opener…The Wings posted a 4-4 record this preseason.