The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/18/14 at 12:25 PM ET
The World Championships' round-robin play's winding down, and Team USA needed to nail down a quarterfinal spot sans Justin Abdelkader in the lineup.
The Americans did just that by defeating Finland 3-1, but the score's deceptive--the "green" American team nursed a 2-0 lead into the 3rd and were badly out-shot and out-chanced by the Finns, and just prior to the Finns scoring a 2-1 goal on a still-shaky Tim Thomas, Danny DeKeyser actually made the save of the game, reaching out with his stick to stop a Finnish shot that hit his Bauer TotalOne stick before it glanced off the post.
At the Worlds, DeKeyser's spent the vast majority of his time playing as a defensive defenseman, but his no-points performance today belied a +2 and a team-leading 22:05 played, with his responsibilities increasing since Jacob Trouba bowed out of the Worlds yesterday.
I don't know if DeKeyser's ever going to become a 30-point-producer, but he's been invisible in all the best senses of the term, and aside from taking a few needless penalties, he's been incredibly steady. On the bigger ice, he has to turn to chase dump-ins, and he gets hit more regularly by forecheckers than he does on 85-foot-wide ice, but he's getting the job done all over the ice, and that's good to see.
The IIHF's Andy Potts' recap explains the Americans' situation:
Team USA booked its quarter-final spot with a tight 3-1 verdict over Finland in a game that threw up a sharp contrast with its play in much of this tournament.
After sharing 37 goals in its games prior to this one - including a win and a loss by a 6-1 margin and getting the wrong end of a 6-5 thriller against Latvia - it was hard to envisage the Americans successfully adopting a compact defensive game to edge out the Finns, but that was precisely how things played out in Minsk Arena.
And with Tim Thomas making 22 saves to guide his team to victory, the Americans confirmed that they cannot finish lower than fourth in Group B thanks to a freakish goal from Brock Nelson in the first minute and a quality third-period strike from Tyler Johnson.
When Johnson got his second in the dying seconds it completed another three-goal haul for America's impressive top line.
On the other side of the coin, Sweden dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to Canada today, blowing a 2-0 lead in the process, and while Sweden has a quarterfinal spot locked up, they've played incredibly inconsistently as a team.
That's not the case for Gustav Nyquist. He had an assist on the 2-0 goal, and as the IIHF's Lukas Aykroyd's recap explains, Nyquist did the grunt work on the Swedes' second goal...
The Swedes went up 2-0 at 1:06. Gustav Nyquist beat Kyle Turris to the puck on the forecheck and centered it from behind the goal line to Klasen, who beat Scrivens cleanly.
And Aykroyd also explain the Swedes' playoff round situation:
Sweden completes its round-robin slate against last-place Italy on Monday, while the Canadians will finish up versus Norway on Tuesday. Sweden could still claim top spot in the group if it wins its last game and the Norwegians surprise Canada.
The game might have ended differently had Dick Axelsson not blown an open net in the latter half of the 3rd period, when the game was tied--and it was Nyquist who made the play to Axelsson from behind the net:
Dick Axelsson had Sweden's best chance when Canada was penalized for too many men on the ice midway through the period. With a wide-open net, he ended up sliding the puck under Scrivens' body and out the other side.
Nyquist finished at +1 with 1 shot and that assist in 16:20 of ice time, and he's been more of a playmaker than a scorer on his line with Calle Jarnkrok and Linus Klassen, but if I were to use a classic Wings cliche, I'd say that he's gotten "better and better" with every game.
Nyquist looked a little slow and shaky two games ago, but over the last pair of performances, he's looked speedy, dangerous and downright intimidating against opposing defenders and goaltenders, dekeing, dangling, blazing up ice, making slick passes, firing off sneaky shots and going to both the front of the net to jam at pucks and behind the net to make plays to forwards trying to out-fox opposing defenders.
He's posted 2 goals and 2 assists for 4 points in 6 games played, and Nyquist's also regained the confidence he lost when being checked into dust by the Boston Bruins, which has been wonderful to see, if not a bit of a relief.
He's not scoring goals at a 40-goal pace or anything, but he's rediscovering his comfort zone while the spotlight's on--and while the not-exactly-star-studded Swedes' two offensive lines can be relatively easily targeted for heavy checking--so here's hoping that he uses this confidence to help build the foundation for a strong 2014-2015 campaign.
Today's Wings action at the Worlds isn't over as Jakub Kindl's Czechs play Norway at 1:45 PM.
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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.