By: Jeff Riger
The Wings have way too many injuries and in the last 24 hours they have a couple more. Justin Abdelkader is out for a couple weeks after suffering a cut on his leg against the Blackhawks and now Jonathon Ericsson should miss the next 10 to 14 days with a broken finger.
It just doesn’t stop!
After the Olympic break, the Wings knew they would have to get contributions from their big guns if they were going to make the playoffs for a 23rd consecutive year. With Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk missing, fans looked to the likes of Daniel Alfredsson and Johan Franzen to carry the bulk of the load. Franzen started off red hot after the Olympics but then cooled down significantly and Alfredsson really hasn’t anybody to get him the puck. Yes, he scored the game winner on Tuesday against the Maple Leafs, but that was only after Mike Babcock put David Legwand on his line. Plain and simple, Detroit needs more from those two.
But there has been one player that has saved the Wings bacon for the most part and it’s a guy that didn’t even start the season in Detroit.
Where would the Wings be without Gustav Nyquist?
With all the injuries, Detroit has been forced to play pretty much everybody from Grand Rapids. It seems like on most nights these days that it’s the Detroit Griffens playing instead of the Wings because they have had to raid their minor league team. And, for the most part, the kids have been good. Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendenning, Tomas Tatar, Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Jurco have proven they can hold their own and on Tuesday we got a chance to see Landon Ferraro as well, which seems like he has potential. Heck, Babcock was even forced to put Brendan Smith on the wing against Toronto before Ericsson was hurt and Smith had to move back to defense.
Injuries have decimated this team, but on the brightside we have got to see guys we have only heard about and the organization looks to have a very bright future.
But, nobody has been better than Nyquist…
Fans everywhere were clamoring for Nyquist even before he was brought up this season. When the year started, Dan Cleary, Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi were all getting playing time over Nyquist, who sat and waited in Grand Rapids. This, after the 24 year old came up with some big-time goals in the playoffs last season.
When Nyquist finally got the call up, he scored 2 goals in his first game and a goal on his first shift just 17 seconds into the contest. He hasn’t been back to Grand Rapids since.
Nyquist was instrumental in the Wings win over the Leafs on Tuesday. He had 2 goals and could have easily had more as he peppered 6 shots on Toronto goalie James Reimer. Nyquist was the reason Detroit won and he’s been the reason that the Wings are just one point out of that final playoff spot in the Eastern conference.
After just 43 games this year, Nyquist has 19 goals with 33 points, he’s also a plus 7. He’s played on various lines, the power play and found a way to produce offense on a team that doesn’t get all that much these days. He’s the one young player on the Wings right now that the hockey world has taken notice of.
So if the Wings are going to make the playoffs once again, it doesn’t seem that it will be because of Franzen, Alfredsson or even Jimmy Howard. Instead it will be because of Nyquist, a guy that Wings fans would have loved to see start the season with the big club.
Earlier in this blog I asked; where the Wings would be without Nyquist?
The more appropriate question should be; can you imagine where they would be if he didn’t miss 25 games?
Lets hope Wings fans will not be forced to think about the answer to that last question…