Oskar Sundqvist giving Red Wings a needed boost on offense

Detroit News

Sunrise, Fla. — Oskar Sundqvist continues to be a little shaken, and it’s been a few days now, about his goal Saturday against Vegas.

It was on the power play, and it was a designed, set play, and one Sundqvist should have had an easy tap-in for a goal, stationed as he usually is at the side of the net.

Except Sundqvist batted at the puck and missed. And missed again.

“I kind of freaked out for a moment,” Sundqvist said. “I missed the first one, and the second one, too. I was like…”

Well, judging from the look on Sundqvist’s face, like “How did I miss that?”

Ultimately, Sundqvist didn’t, and he got the puck past goaltender Adin Hill, Sundqvist’s third goal in two games at the time.

Going into Thursday’s game against Florida, Sundqvist has three goals and an assist in the last four games, which is a bit of a revelation, but not totally.

Sundqvist, known more for his defense and physical, aggressive attributes around the net and aggravating opponents, scored 14 goals in 2019, when the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup (four goals, nine points in 25 playoff games), and scored 12 goals the following season.

He’s not the most silky-smooth player on the ice, but that doesn’t matter. Sundqvist can, without a doubt, chip in offensively, and be a helpful offensive presence for the Wings.

And he has shown to be, at times.

“Absolutely, and we need him (to be),” coach Derek Lalonde said. “He plays right (the correct way) a lot. When we were struggling with our five-on-five offense, we asked the guys to get to the net and get to the hard areas, which is natural for him. That’s where a lot of goals for him happen.

“What’s good about Sunny is, the offense he creates is done the right way. That just helps our team with our five-on-five game.”

Sundqvist has also made a subtle adjustment to his game in recent days, or weeks. He has a bit, for him at least, more of a shoot-first mentality.

“Trying to shoot the puck,” Sundqvist said, in an almost sheepish tone. “Kind of not pass up too many opportunities. Just a little different mindset from my own perspective, and just trying to keep that mindset.”

Sundqvist mentioned he looked to shoot the puck when he had his career-high, 14-goal season.

“That was more of a shoot-first mindset, for sure,” Sundqvist said. “I was trying to get more puck on the net. I felt like I was a little more hesitant (early this season), more of a pass-first mindset than shoot-first.”

Maybe it was because Sundqvist was returning from an undisclosed injury that kept him off the ice for most of the exhibition season, or the different injury that has kept him out of seven games during the regular season that Sundqvist tended to be less aggressive with his shooting.

But Sundqvist feels he can score more goals, and he’s done it. Former Blues teammate David Perron, now reunited with Sundqvist with the Wings, has been a Sundqvist cheerleader since Perron signed with the Wings last summer.

“You don’t know (that) day if he’s going to play or not, the way he’s walking off the ice, but then he’s out (on the ice) just skating the hardest out there,” said Perron, who added that one of Sundqvist’s biggest assets is his personality in the locker room. “(He) gets everyone nice and loose, and then the moment he steps on the ice, he goes to work.”

Lalonde also credits Sundqvist with being an important presence in the locker room, and on the ice, because of his infectious personality.

“Even not having him in camp — he was out early on — not in on our everyday process, we have a quiet group, just natural reserved-type personalities, and the second he came in our room, it was a huge spark,” Lalonde said. “Having that big personality is very valuable.”

Sundqvist, for his part, is quick to deflect credit back to Perron, partly, for that 14-goal season in St. Louis.

Sundqvist admits, somewhat grudgingly, that Perron played a significant role in that success.

“He helped me a couple of times,” Sundqvist said. “He’s always shooting the puck, always, and everything he shot off me went in (to the net). Hey, they all count.”

Ice chips

Interesting statistic concerning defenseman Filip Hronek, who continues to build upon an eye-opening start to this season. With two assists Tuesday, Hronek became the second defenseman in NHL history (Paul Coffey, 1986-87 in Edmonton, is the other) and the first player in Wings franchise history to have a point streak of at least 11 road games from the start of a season.

From a Wings perspective, Hronek passed Sergei Fedorov, who had a 10-game season-opening road streak in 1993-94 (nine goals, 19 points).

“He’s simplifying things and doing what we asked of him,” Lalonde said of Hronek’s success. “Eliminating the risk, and that’s what he’s done.”

… Elmer Soderblom (lower-body injury) continues to skate and progress, and could be ready to play this weekend. Lalonde indicated Soderblom, who has missed approximately a month (November 8, last game), some conditioning time in Grand Rapids.


Twitter: @tkulfan

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