Someday, in the not-too-distant future, the Red Wings will be leaning on players named Tatar, Nyquist and Andersson on a regular basis. They will do for this franchise what guys like Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Franzen are doing today.
Someday, the smooth hands of Gustav Nyquist and the nose for the net of Tomas Tatar will combine consistently and whoever gets to play with them as the third wheel will reap the benefits.
Tonight, with Z, Dats and Darren Helm out with injuries, Nyquist and Tatar were the best players on the ice.
The Red Wings beat the New Jersey Devils, 3-1, for their 10th road win of the year. Tatar, Johan Franzen and Andersson scored for Detroit (15-8-7). Franzen’s goal was the result of a wicked through-the-crease pass from Nyquist.
But it wasn’t just the points that the kids put up. It was their tenacity, their hard play in the offensive zone, and the general nuisance they made of themselves against the Devils.
Jonas Gustavsson remained undefeated in goal this season, stopping 10 of 11 Devils shots.
That’s right—the Red Wings only allowed 11 shots, total, on the road.
Tatar, who has 6 goals and 7 assists, seems to be getting better every game. And his knack for finding the puck in goal-scoring lanes is uncanny. Or maybe the puck is finding him. Regardless, it’s working.
“To be honest, I feel really good on the ice,” Tatar told FSD’s Trevor Thompson after the game. Tatar had a goal and an assist.
Franzen, on another one of his hot streaks, told Thompson that “the kids” (Tatar and Nyquist, with whom The Mule played tonight) bring energy to the team and the older guys feed off that.
Coach Mike Babcock said, “In this league you have to skate. We aren’t as quick as we’d like to be as a team, but those kids skate and play hard.”
Tatar was magnificent defensively and tenacious on the forecheck all night.
As for the undefeated Gustavsson, the puck keeps hitting him. And the Red Wings keep winning when Gus is in net.
The Red Wings did get Todd Bertuzzi back in the lineup after he missed seven games with an upper body injury.
Maybe the Red Wings ought to start wearing their white jerseys at home for awhile, until they start winning consistently at Joe Louis Arena again.
BOTTOM LINE: The Red Wings beat the Devils at their own game, clogging up the middle all night.
THE WINGED WHEELER SAYS: It’s exciting to see young guys like Tatar, Nyquist and Andersson seize the opportunity being presented to them now, with the big guns out of the lineup. Confidence is high for these guys right now. Babcock agreed with Franzen’s assessment of the energy factor that trio of players brings to the party.