COMMENTARY | After peppering Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec with 43 shots two nights ago on Tuesday, November 12, the Detroit Red Wings could only muster two goals, and Pavel Datsyuk scored both of them.
This isn't breaking news. The Red Wings have struggled to score through their first 19 games of the 2013-14 season, and they struggled to score last year as well. The signings of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss were supposed to alleviate that scoring problem but, so far, it appears only Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg can score on a regular basis.
Datsyuk and Zetterberg have scored 40 percent (19 of 47) of the Red Wings' goals, which is astronomically high. Sure, they are the two best players on the team, but a team can't win in the NHL unless it gets secondary scoring. Their linemate for a good part of the season, Todd Bertuizzi, has five goals, but no one else has more than three.
The Red Wings are averaging just 2.47 goals per game this season, good for 21st in the league, as opposed to 2.54 last year. Even though they weren't scoring last year, they weren't giving up many goals, either. The Red Wings allowed 2.29 goals per game last year, which was fifth-best in the NHL. This year, they are giving up 2.58 goals per game, which is right in the middle at 15th.
This lack of scoring is why the Red Wings need to make room for Gustav Nyquist. Nyquist has nothing left to prove at the AHL level. He's leading the Grand Rapids Griffins in scoring with 17 points in 13 games. He led the team last year in scoring despite only playing 58 games with the Griffins as he was called up to the Red Wings late in the season.
Nyquist needs to be up with Detroit, which needs to make room for him. The problem is when Jonathan Ericsson and Brendan Smith return from IR, the Red Wings will need to make roster moves just to accommodate these two. Jordin Tootoo probably will be sent to Grand Rapids, and Patrick Eaves was waived earlier on Thursday.
Nyquist cannot come to Detroit temporarily; he needs to stay full time. He can only play two more NHL games before he would need to clear waivers in order to be sent back to Grand Rapids. Obviously, any NHL team would jump at the chance to have a dynamic player like Nyquist on their team, so that is not an option.
Weiss, Johan Franzen, Tomas Tatar, Daniel Cleary, Joakim Andersson and Justin Abdelkader all have less than 10 points. It doesn't matter what lineup changes Babcock seems to make, this team cannot produce offensively on a consistent basis. They are getting chances, but moral victories do not add up to wins. This team needs to start scoring.
The signings of Tootoo and Mikael Samuelsson in the summer of 2012 are starting to haunt general manager Ken Holland. These guys are taking up roster spots that are being wasted when a guy like Nyquist can help the team win.
Moves have to be made, and they have to be made sooner rather than later. Nyquist is too talented and too valuable to be in Grand Rapids. The Red Wings need to figure out a way to accommodate him so they can start producing offensively.
Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who covers the Detroit Red Wings for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He also co-hosts a Red Wings Podcast called The Octopod, and is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can follow Tom on Twitter.
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- Pavel Datsyuk