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Nyquist’s Swedes play just well enough to beat France; Nyquist hasn’t found his form yet

Maybe it was the rink (the same one where Team USA played a trainwreck game against Latvia), or maybe it was the fact that Expressen's Mattias Ek reported that Jimmie Ericsson and Erik Gustafsson (Gustav Nyquist's roommate) battling fevers, but Sweden played just well enough to eke out a 2-1 victory over France on Thursday (Sweden's playing back-to-backs like Team USA, with a showdown with Tomas Tatar's Slovaks set for Friday)...

And Gustav Nyquist didn't look like himself. He played 15:44 and had 1 shot, but finished at -1 playing a line with Calle Jarnkrok--whose speed has turned into a lot of chasing after the puck and trailing the play instead of anticipating where the puck's going and getting to areas of the ice before the puck does (that, and he's still getting bumped off the puck pretty easily)--but Nyquist's own speed, poise, playmaking savvy and shot have been noticeably absent as he's posted a goal and an assist over the course of four games thus far.

The Swedes, like the Americans, are a young team and a team dealing with significant "Olympic fatigue" in terms of the lack of star power--again, Nyquist was the Swedes' 13th or 14th forward and Jimmie Ericsson was the only SHL player, and now they're playing on the #1B line together--so they're finding their way slowly but surely in a tournament that's particularly stacked toward the Russians (especially now that Evgeni Malkin's joining the cause)...

But it's hard to watch Nyquist show flashes of his brilliance and then fade again. I don't know if he's injured, if he's ill, or if he just hasn't been able to rediscover his comfort zone after cooling off toward the end of the regular season and being checked into submission by the Bruins, but Sweden is counting on Nyquist.

H's got to pick up his game in a big way on Friday (against Slovakia), Sunday (against Canada) and Monday (against Italy), boogers or no boogers.

Anyway, here's the IIHF's Peter Westermark's sans-quotes recap:

The game started slowly as and the first real scoring chance did not come until ten minutes into the contest. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare joined a rush, picked up a pass from Anthony Guttig and one-timed a low shot towards the Swedish net, but [Anders] Nilsson showed some quick lateral mobility and made the save.

Later in the first, both team had chances to play with the man advantage but neither team was able to capitalize. Again, it was Bellemare that hade the best chance with a one-timed attempt from the right faceoff circle on France’s second power play of the night.

As the game went past the halfway mark, Sweden started taking more chances offensively. That almost backfired as France’s Antoine Roussel went on a rush towards a lone Tre Kronor defenceman and fired a shot from the slot. Nilsson deflected it wide. 

Eventually, Tre Kronor got the desired the 1-0 lead when captain Joel Lundqvist deflected a heavy slap shot from Dennis Rasmussen past Hardy. And only 17 seconds later, Oscar Moller skated into the slot and made it 2-0 after picking up a pass from Joakim Lindstrom. He wasted little time before firing it into the net, high on [Floridan] Hardy’s stick hand side.

Five minutes into the third, France cut the deficit in half when Tim Erixon’s pass up ice was intercepted by Stephane Da Costa, who made a quick turn to skate in alone on Anders Nilsson, deking the Swedish goalie and putting the puck into the net to make it a 2-1 game.

After killing off another pair of penalties, France went on the attack looking to tie the game. But their hopes for a tie was dealt a tough blow when Bellemare was sent to the box for tripping. On the power play, Sweden put heavy pressure on the French net, but Hardy came up big.

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.