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Red Wings forward Joakim Andersson’s playing understatedly superb 2-way hockey

There's no doubt in my mind that the Red Wings' "x-factor" through their playoff run has been the performance of their third line, and while the Gustav Nyquist-Joakim Andersson-Damien Brunner line didn't factor in the scoring in the Red Wings' 2-0 win over Chicago last night, Nyquist deked and dazzled his way past and through Blackhawks defenders, registering 2 shots and 2 takeaways in only 10:26 of ice time, Brunner took 2 shots, attempted 3 more and probably (frustratingly) passed up half a dozen more, and Andersson had 1 takeaway, had 2:23 of PK time and went 5-and-1 in the faceoff circle...

And while Nyquist and Brunner's dekes, dangles and speedy rushes are exciting to watch, this slightly geeky Nicklas Lidstrom fan enjoys the subtleties of the game, the kind of stuff that can't be statistically quantified, so I adore watching the way that Henrik Zetterberg pesters the hell out of Jonathan Toews by simply shadowing him like a damn on-ice stalker and pickpocket, I love watching Pavel Datsyuk make so many of his amazing moves simply because he uses the full length and breadth of his stick blade, and I tend to geek out when I watch Nyquist and Brunner turn back after making an offensive foray and seeing the supposedly slow-footed Andersson suddenly appear in frame as the cameras pan back toward the Red Wings' defense, with Andersson supporting his defenders as what Mike Babcock and the players refer to as strong "F3" (3rd forward) presence, and I love watching Andersson both pluck pucks off his opponents' sticks and stand in the slot to block those back-door-pass goals that have doomed the Wings in playoff runs past.

Long paragraph, I know, but Andersson's impact can be incredibly subtle despite his 6'3" frame and increasingly evident enjoyment of playing physical and checking the hell out of his opponents.

I tried to jam all the Wings' notebooks I could into the Wings-Hawks wrap-up, including some very good news about Danny DeKeyser's wrist from DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose, but I have no problem dedicating an entry one straggler story that I nearly forgot about, from the Free Press's Helene St. James.

Just as we Wings fans sometimes forget that Andersson can seemingly simultaneously key Nyquist and Brunner's breakouts and then hustle back to check, Andersson himself doesn't have a strong press presence, so he's a bit overlooked and undervalued in my opinion.

The Free Press's Helene St. James did her best to ensure that Wings fans pay more attention to a player who doesn't call attention to herself, and as such, this overnight report's dedicated to her profile of a player whose dedication to defense leaves his linemates slightly annoyed at times:

“He’s excellent defensively and can make plays as well, so he’s a big part of our line,” Nyquist said. “He makes sure not too much happens on the defensive side. We balance pretty good with Andy as a centerman, he’s real smart, and I think he’s learned to play with us, too, to be a little bit more offensive minded.”

Being what Henrik Zetterberg described as a “typical Swedish center” — a guy who learns to add offense only after having cemented a defensive base layer — Andersson is renowned among his wingers for preaching responsibility. Brunner described it like, “It’s always Andy and Coach versus me and Gus in the line meetings.

“We figured it out. Andy is good. But I think he’s not only safety belt. He’s generating offense, too, and on the other side, Gus and I are doing our job in the back end. We have each other’s backs.”

The former Frolunda Indians forward very quietly did his job in Grand Rapids, but #63 looked overwhelmed both during his "cup of coffee" during the 2011-2012 season and earlier this year. That's not the case anymore:

“I’m amazed at how far he’s come,” defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said. “He’s great on face-offs, great in the D zone, real smart with the puck and without the puck. That third line has been key for us, and I think he’s the key to it, because he’s sort of our help as a defenseman back there. He’s a real shy guy off the ice, but on the ice, he finds himself in the right areas and he makes a lot of good plays.”

For Andersson, 24, the key is to be responsible and reap the benefits of his creative wingers. “I just have to try to balance the whole thing and be smart defensively and read off them what they are doing,” he said. “I mean, I want to play with the puck as well, but I’ve got to make sure we take care of the defensive part of the game as well.”

St. James offers more regarding DeKeyser's recovery, too--possibly the best news yet--but I can't quote her entire article.

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Comments

MOWingsfan19's avatar

“It’s always Andy and Coach versus me and Gus in the line meetings.

Not sure why, but that make me chuckle.
Nice ‘n’ loose group of guys we’ve got here now.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 05/24/13 at 08:02 AM ET

Mandingo's avatar

I am completely amazed by this 3rd line and this team in general.

Nyquist in particular. I’m trying to temper my expectations of him (remembering Ericsson’s struggles after a great playoff), but it really looks like the sky’s the limit for this kid. He could be a legitimate 1st-line all-star caliber player. I thought he was the most dynamic forward on the ice last night, even in limited minutes.

And the Wings got him in the 4th round…121st overall.

F*cking unbelievable.

How do they do it?

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 05/24/13 at 08:11 AM ET

MarkK's avatar

Long paragraph, I know

I think that was a sentence…

Nice writeup, George!

Posted by MarkK from Maryland on 05/24/13 at 08:23 AM ET

Avatar

I’ve been surprised by a lot of the “kids” this year, but you’re right on the money with Andersson. Especially in the playoffs, he’s been playing really solid two way hockey. He and the rest of that heart-and-soul third line are pushing everyone else to be better.

Posted by beardChamp on 05/24/13 at 08:25 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

I am completely amazed by this 3rd line and this team in general.

Nyquist in particular. I’m trying to temper my expectations of him (remembering Ericsson’s struggles after a great playoff), but it really looks like the sky’s the limit for this kid. He could be a legitimate 1st-line all-star caliber player. I thought he was the most dynamic forward on the ice last night, even in limited minutes.

And the Wings got him in the 4th round…121st overall.

F*cking unbelievable.

How do they do it?

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 05/24/13 at 09:11 AM ET

I’m excited too. After an underwhelming regular season (though he was always solid), it seems in this playoff he’s starting to get the confidence to realize that he can do amazing things with the puck and be a legitimate NHL scorer.

I’m not worried about a situation like what happened with Ericsson because A) time and again, we see that it takes longer to fully develop a consistent NHL defenseman than it does a forward and B) look at Ericsson today—after the growing pains, he looks like the player that burst on the scene in the playoffs as an over-ripe rookie. Even if Gus has a sophmore slump and needs a season or two to turn it around, I can live with that.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 05/24/13 at 08:51 AM ET

TreKronor's avatar

Glad you wrote this post GM.  Anderson and Nyquist don’t receive a whole lot of attention, but they are a great couple of kids with potential.  Lot’s of energy too - they were all over the ice in the last 10 mins of the game last night.

I’m lovin’ it.

Posted by TreKronor on 05/24/13 at 08:53 AM ET

Avatar

I was on the edge of my seat everytime that line was on the ice. They seemed to be able to get the puck and just fly out of their zone when they were out there. Great stuff. Really excited about their futures.

Posted by lancer on 05/24/13 at 09:04 AM ET

perfection's avatar

this has been a season loaded with pleasant surprises. it seems most folks didn’t enjoy it as much as I did until we came out of nowhere to win some playoff games. But with tempered expectations, I thought it was really fun all year to see what this team was made of.

Of all the surprises - the rise of Kindl, Ericcson playing like a genuine top-2 dman, Lash being solid as a rock, Brunner being better than advertised, Abbie evolving into the perfect compliment for Dats, DeKeyser coming in out of nowhere and playing at the level he did, and to a lesser extent, Nyquist kicking ass (he was leading the entire AHL in scoring for a reason though), and Howie playing up to and beyond that new contract - with all of those pleasant surprises, I think Andersson may have been my favorite of them all. He definitely had not been touted as a high end prospect over the last couple years and his size alone made him intriguing to at least try out there. But almost from game one, you just kind of knew he was never going to leave our roster again this year, no matter who got healthy. He has really become the ultimate third line center. I think this article sums it up perfectly because as good as Nyquist and Brunner have been, Andersson has been the glue that’s made it work so well. He wins faceoffs like a machine, skates incredibly for a man of his size, plays large, has clear offensive upside, and is a defensive wall, so much so he’s become one of our best penalty killers. In fact, last night the Hawks were pressing hard and I started to get that feeling like they were going to tie it up for sure and then Kindl took the penalty. Our penalty kill, led by Andersson, was so incredible that it suddenly stopped any momentum the Hawks had. They did nothing during or after that PP and it was really mostly due to Andersson who was blocking shots and breaking up passes left and right. I’ve just been so impressed at his consistency all year long.

What’s more, Andersson is a reminder of the benefits of not tossing “mid level” prospects around for rentals at the deadline. Because development is really unpredictable. I don’t even think the Wings brass could have known he would fit in so nicely in the NHL until they saw it with their own eyes. He’s exactly the kind of kid who may have been tossed for a rental in the pre-cap era and we wouldn’t have thought twice because he wasn’t listed in our top-5 overall prospects. But man am I glad we kept him. You jsut get the sense he’s going to get better and better too once the team convinces him to start shooting and crashing a bit more.

I do have to wonder if with every great play made by this third line (all while the Griffins barrel towards the AHL championship) it is exponentially decreasing Kenny’s eventual offer to Filps? He’s becoming more and more expendable while he is being outplayed by a bunch of rookies.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 05/24/13 at 09:21 AM ET

Avatar

I seem to remember last year many of us fans (and I think the Front Office) wanted to get a bottom six center with size and the ability to win faceoffs at the trade deadline.

Posted by lancer on 05/24/13 at 09:26 AM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

Interesting to contrast the 12-13 model to the 07-08 model in terms of TOI responsibilities for the forwards:

12-13:  http://www.nhl.com/ice/playerstats.htm?fetchKey=20133DETSASALL&sort=avgTOIPerGame&viewName=summary

07-08: http://www.nhl.com/ice/playerstats.htm?fetchKey=20083DETSASALL&sort=avgTOIPerGame&viewName=summary

Babs is deploying line 3 brilliantly these playoffs, they garner 13-14 mins of TOI per game.  Meanwhile line 4 is seeing 10-12 mins.

In 07-08, lines 2 and 3 were getting near equal time and the 4th unit was consistently at or below 9 mins. 

It’s truly remarkable how balanced the bottom two units have become during this post-season.  Seeing the mins also reminds me just how big Miller’s return has been, dude’s been a rock.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 05/24/13 at 09:50 AM ET

Leo_Racicot's avatar

it is exponentially decreasing Kenny’s eventual offer to Filps? He’s becoming more and more expendable while he is being outplayed by a bunch of rookies.

If that ends up being the case then they need to manage the next six weeks of negotiations with him better than Hudler.  You don’t let those type of home grown assets to leave your club without getting a nickel in return.  Kenny completely botched that with Huds last season.

Posted by Leo_Racicot on 05/24/13 at 09:52 AM ET

Avatar

I do have to wonder if with every great play made by this third line (all while the Griffins barrel towards the AHL championship) it is exponentially decreasing Kenny’s eventual offer to Filps?

Kenny shouldn’t be making an offer to Filppula.  Period.

Posted by Garth on 05/24/13 at 10:10 AM ET

SYF's avatar

Glad you wrote this post GM.  Anderson and Nyquist don’t receive a whole lot of attention, but they are a great couple of kids with potential.  Lot’s of energy too - they were all over the ice in the last 10 mins of the game last night.

I’m lovin’ it.

Posted by TreKronor on 05/24/13 at 09:53 AM ET

You’d never know that in the LBs.  wink

The 19 know a good thing when they see it.

Posted by SYF from The Revenge of Johnny E on 05/24/13 at 11:10 AM ET

MsRedWingFan's avatar

And while Nyquist and Brunner’s dekes, dangles and speedy rushes are exciting to watch, this slightly geeky Nicklas Lidstrom fan enjoys the subtleties of the game, the kind of stuff that can’t be statistically quantified, so I adore watching the way that Henrik Zetterberg pesters the hell out of Jonathan Toews by simply shadowing him like a damn on-ice stalker and pickpocket, I love watching Pavel Datsyuk make so many of his amazing moves simply because he uses the full length and breadth of his stick blade, and I tend to geek out when I watch Nyquist and Brunner turn back after making an offensive foray and seeing the supposedly slow-footed Andersson suddenly appear in frame as the cameras pan back toward the Red Wings’ defense, with Andersson supporting his defenders as what Mike Babcock and the players refer to as strong “F3” (3rd forward) presence, and I love watching Andersson both pluck pucks off his opponents’ sticks and stand in the slot to block those back-door-pass goals that have doomed the Wings in playoff runs past.

YUPP !!!!!!!  cheese  cool grin

Posted by MsRedWingFan from West Michigan hometown of Abdelkader on 05/24/13 at 12:07 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

I love #63. I saw him up close during the Anaheim series. He is a beast on the PK and in the face off circle.

I was fortunate to see a Frolunda home game in Gothenburg in September 2008. AndrewfromAnnArbor, told me to keep an eye out for this kid Joakim Andersson because he was a highly touted Wings prospect. I get to my seat and a few minutes later, just as the game was starting, this guy and his mom sit down next to me:

 photo SwedishWingsFan.jpg

How cool is that? I’m in Sweden and a Red Wings fan sits right next to me. So the game starts and there he is, No. 24.

 photo Andersson1.jpg

I take a whole bunch of pics of the highly touted prospect. I didn’t find out until later that Joakim Andersson was No. 18 and Niklas Andersson was No. 24. Oops!

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 05/24/13 at 01:12 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.