Mar 23, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Gustav Nyquist (14) celebrates his goal in the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Gustav Nyquist, The Forward On Fire

If he was hotter than he already is, Gustav Nyquist would literally be on fire.

The praise has been heaped on Nyquist already, from our own writers praising all the young guns to the NHL naming him last week’s first star to Puck Daddy giving him a “runner up” place as MVP.

So let’s get the stats we’ve rehearsed out of the way.

Gustav Nyquist is the hottest player in the NHL since January 20. He has the most goals since then. He has 42 points in 47 games. He’s already surpassed his career high in goals in a season and currently has 25 (it was 23 with the Griffins in the 2012-13 season).

He’s filling in a very important gap. He’s helping us hang in the playoff race while missing our two superstar players.

The question remains: How long will Nyquist stay hot? Is he the heir apparent to guys like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk? Or is this just a ridiculously good streak, akin to something like Johan Franzen scoring more goals than the Colorado Avalanche in a playoff series?

I think it’s a mix of the two.

If Datsyuk and Zetterberg were in the lineup, would Nyquist still be this hot? He’s a player that has averaged a point per game in nearly every season he’s played (the exception being when he was called up in 2011-12 for the Red Wings and only had seven points in 18 games). He has fantastic chemistry with Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan. Sheahan’s amazing playmaking ability is being overshadowed by how often Nyquist has scored because of it. And Tatar makes a statement every time he scores but seems to be almost forgotten in the rush of Goose goals; he quietly has 32 points in 63 games.

Nyquist’s hot streak is amazing, yes, but it’s also frustrating. Because you have to think about players like Johan Franzen and Daniel Alfredsson who haven’t scored in what feels like forever. They are the players who are supposed to step up when guys like Datsyuk and Zetterberg go down. Franzen did for about two weeks, but lapsed back into the streaky player we all frustratingly know. Alfredsson has had chances recently, but puck luck has not been on his side.

And lesser players like Drew Miller and Joakim Andersson haven’t seemed to do much lately. They are fantastic on the penalty kill, however, so it isn’t as though they aren’t contributing in some capacity. (Also let Andersson slide a bit because he just came back from injury.)

It’s a bit of a relief to be able to rely on the young guns we’ve heard so much about playing in Grand Rapids. Heck, Nyquist doesn’t even seem to have to try to score goals–see his second goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday evening that just managed to graze his skate before hitting the Blue Jackets player and bouncing in.

The hot streak is bound to end sooner or later. But it’s been over two months and he doesn’t show signs of slowing down yet. Let’s keep our faith alive and see where Nyquist will take us.

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