The Detroit Red Wings are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games and have managed to hold onto the 8th seed. They currently sit four points behind Toronto for the 3rd seed in the Atlantic division, and the Wings also have a game in hand on the Leafs. The Wings have been fortunate to gain points in four of their last five games, and Jimmy Howard’s health looks to be as good as it’s been all season.
But just as things seemed to be looking up for the Wings, injury problems struck again, just like it has all season. This time it was to the ever valuable power forward, Johan Franzen. The Mule was injured in a December matchup against Tampa Bay and missed 16 games. He returned the 26th of January and fans were excited to see a healthy body back in the lineup and erased off the scratched list. Unfortunately, Franzen didn’t stay healthy long and he was immediately pulled out of the active lineup after the game on January 26th for recurrent concussion like symptoms.
To make matters worse for Franzen, this injury means he will miss out on the Sochi Olympics and forfeit the opportunity to represent his native Sweden. Unfortunate as it may be for the Mule, it’s opened the door for Red Wings’ youngster Gustav Nyquist to make a statement and cement his place in the Swedish lineup. Indeed, Nyquist has made this statement loud and clear the past few games. Playing primarily alongside fellow Swede Henrik Zetterberg, their chemistry and creativity has been off the charts.
The Wings had a shootout victory Friday night in the first of a home-and-home series against the Washington Capitals and Nyquist got his name on the score sheet registering the Wings lone goal in the 3rd period and earning himself the first star of the game. Although the Wings went down in overtime to the Caps on Sunday, Nyquist made sure to leave no doubt about who would be Franzen’s replacement as he notched an impressive hat trick. Goose ended the game with four points, five shots on goal, and a solid 19:03 ice time. Even the Swedish newspaper, Sport Expressen, was screaming his praises the next morning on their front page.
Goose followed up his scoring show from Sunday’s game with a very solid performance last night against Vancouver in a 2-0 victory. Nyquist notched an assist with 17 minutes of ice time, and on a 5-on-3 opportunity looked like the most lethal player on the ice registering five solid scoring chances in the two minutes he was on the ice. The kid is playing with an unreal level of confidence after finding out he made the Swedish national team and this can only benefit the Red Wings. The experience Nyquist will gain by playing against the best competition in the world is surely to be a plus once he returns to NHL action. Gustav was planning to take a vacation to “somewhere warm” if he was overlooked by the Swedish Federation. Nyquist said in an interview, “Obviously I’m really excited. It’s going to be something special to represent your country in the Olympics. They don’t come around too often so it’s going to be an amazing experience.”
Nyquist will be joined on the Swedish team by fellow Detroit Red Wings Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson, Niklas Kronwall, Jonas Gustavsson, and Jonathan Ericsson. It will be very cool to see Goose on a line with Zetterberg, his Detroit linemate, on a world stage. For a few weeks in February, every Wings fan will be an honorary Swede. Gå Sverige!