John Tortorella Plans To Start Using Gus Nyquist As a Penalty Killer

By Rob Mixer on October 16, 2019 at 1:45 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Gus Nyquist speaks with FSO after a game against the Anaheim Ducks.
FOX Sports Ohio

Just as Gus Nyquist is getting acclimated to his new team, Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella is figuring out how to best utilize him.

Nyquist started the season on a line with Alexander Wennberg and Oliver Bjorkstrand, but quickly moved up to the No. 1 line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cam Atkinson. That line produced the game-winning goal on Saturday in Carolina and has earned more minutes as they've developed some chemistry together.

Tortorella didn't know much about Nyquist before he arrived, but he has big plans (and some new ideas) for the veteran forward.

"I think Gus is a really good player," Tortorella said Wednesday. "He's a pretty consistent offensive guy. You can see his track record – he's a 50-point guy, so you know he has some skill. I don't think he's shy at all. One of his biggest strengths is...he has enough balls to hold on to pucks and make a play in little areas, instead of just getting rid of it."

Nyquist was a power play staple in Detroit under two head coaches – Mike Babcock and then Jeff Blashill – but rarely if ever killed penalties. Tortorella used Nyquist late in Saturday's win in a 6-on-5 situation and was impressed, leading to a conversation earlier this week about a possible new role.

"I asked him 'why the hell aren't you killing penalties in this league?' He said 'dumb coaches,' that's what he told me," Tortorella said. "This dumb coach is gonna try him penalty killing. He's just a really good player, and I think he's beginning to get his legs."