The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/19/14 at 03:57 PM ET
Gustav Nyquist isn't a speedy waterbug like linemate Linus Klassen, an 5'9," 165-pound SHL'er, nor does he have Calle Jarnkrok's fleet-footedness, but Nyquist can handle traffic and hard checking better than Klassen, he doesn't give up on doing the detail work involved in completing backchecking assignments like Jarnkrok does (seriously, the Worlds have been a revelation as to Jarnkrok's lack of "compete level"), and while Nyquist loses puck battles from time to time, he also goes and retrieves the puck again if he loses it.
As such, Nyquist's performance in Sweden's 5-1 win over Italy--2 goals, the 1-0 goal on a breakaway, a should-have-been assist on the 2-1 PPG, a one-timer goal on the 3-1 PPG and at least presence on the ice during the 4-1 PPG (and did I mention that Nyquist whiffed on a second breakaway attempt shortly after the 1-0 goal?)--was overshadowed by Klasen's four assists and Jarnkrok's effortless skating...
But the Swedes, who let their foot off the gas pedal significantly in the 3rd period (despite Jimmie Ericsson's power play goal, the Swedes' fourth of the game), will need more than fly-by players to win in the quarterfinals, and Nyquist's direct-route urgency, tenacity, will and poise are the kinds of qualities that tend to shine through when medals are on the line.
Nyquist finished with 2 goals and 6 shots, with a +1 in 16:27 played, and he wasn't named the game's best player (Klassen's four assists gave him the Tissot watch), but Nyquist was arguably their most effective player.
The Swedes are done with quarterfinal play now and won't skate again until Thursday--though a Canadian win tomorrow (vs. Norway) will probably spell finishing 2nd in Group A (take note: Tomas Tatar's Slovaks won't make the playoffs!)--and as individuals and a team, the Swedes have gotten "better and better" as the games have progressed.
Nyquist's reclaimed a significant percentage of his goal-scoring form as well, and he's also doing the detail work and displaying the jam and grit necessary to "go to the dirty areas" and get the job done when you're not the biggest, strongest or speediest player on the ice.
The Klasens and Jarnkroks of the world play pretty hockey, but there's a reason that the mercurial 28-year-old Klassen is going to play for Lugano of the Swiss league next season, and there's a reason that the Wings didn't feel that they were going to absolutely devastate their prospect system by moving Jarnkrok at the trade deadline. Elegance can be deceiving at the World Championship level, especially during a year where there's been a significant amount of "Olympic Fatigue" yielding rosters laden with countries respective pro leagues' players, prospects and fringe NHL'ers, but players like Nyquist shine through for the kinds of subtle plays that earn them success at the NHL level.
In his own way, Nyquist, like Danny DeKeyser, has been very quietly efficient, but that's a very, very good sign.
The points don't tell the story for Nyquist.
In terms of remaining World Championship round robin play:
Tomrorow at 5:45 AM EDT, DeKeyser and Justin Abdelkader's Americans will battle Germany, and that game will air on NBCSN;
At 9:45 AM, Tomas Tatar's Slovaks will end their World Championship journey with a game against Denmark;
And at 1:45 PM, Jakub Kindl's Czechs will battle the plucky French, who swiped the Slovaks' quarterfinal spot.
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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.