Samuelsson has been super for Canucks

Brad Ziemer
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'He's almost Canadian,' says fellow Swede Henrik Sedin

The Vancouver Canucks have been good and bad in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Mikael Samuelsson has only been great.

The veteran Swedish winger has been the lone constant in what has been a roller-coaster start to the post-season for the Canucks.

Samuelsson has five goals in four playoff games. That's the same number of goals he scored in 22 playoff games in 2008 when he helped the Detroit Red Wings win the Stanley Cup.

VANCOUVER -

The Vancouver Canucks have been good and bad in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Mikael Samuelsson has only been great.

The veteran Swedish winger has been the lone constant in what has been a roller-coaster start to the post-season for the Canucks.

Samuelsson has five goals in four playoff games. That's the same number of goals he scored in 22 playoff games in 2008 when he helped the Detroit Red Wings win the Stanley Cup.

Heading into Friday night's action, Samuelsson had five goals, tying him for the playoff goal-scoring lead with Washington's Nicklas Backstrom and former Detroit teammate Henrik Zetterberg.

Samuelsson's shooting percentage in the early going of the post-season is an impressive 27.8 per cent, which is almost as good as the Canuck penalty-killing unit.

All season, Samuelsson has shown a knack for helping those he plays with perform better.

He was at it again Wednesday night in Game 4 of Vancouver's series with the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center.

After a lacklustre first period by his top line, coach Alain Vigneault replaced the struggling Alex Burrows with Samuelsson and that swap seemed to kick-start the Sedin twins.

"He likes to hold onto the puck, it doesn't matter who he plays with, he shoots it from anywhere," said Henrik Sedin. "It creates a lot of difficulties for the other team. That is one of his major assets, I think."

Samuelsson carries a Swedish passport, but Henrik Sedin thinks of his fellow countryman as quasi-Canadian. He plays with an edge and has lots to say to opponents on the ice.

"People in here love him," Sedin said. "He's almost Canadian with the way he likes to chirp and go back and forth."

Samuelsson is not a big talker in the dressing room. He instead prefers to lead by example on the ice. When he does counsel some of his younger teammates, it is to keep an even keel during the playoffs.

"I have said it before, don't get too high, don't get too low," he said. "Personally, it goes in for me right now, but I just don't think (about it) too much."

Samuelsson, who was signed by Canuck general manager Mike Gillis to a three-year $7.5-million free-agent deal last summer, came to Vancouver hoping he might get a full-time gig skating alongside the twins.

But when that didn't happen, it didn't seem to bother him.

He has flourished while playing alongside an assortment of linemates. He tallied 30 goals and 64 points, both career-highs, in the regular season.

He subscribes to the theory that occasional change is a good thing.

"Absolutely, once in a while you need a small change for yourself and the team if things don't go your way," Samuelsson said. "It's going my way now, but some other guys probably want to see something more. It's not all about points, I have to throw that in there, too. I'm happy that I am scoring, but there's more to it than just scoring goals and points. But you can get some momentum playing with different linemates."

Samuelsson said his game does not change a whole lot when he plays with the twins, other than the fact he tries to play a bit more physical.

"I am looking to hit a little more when I play with them," he said. "Just create a little more room for them so they can get the puck. That's obviously when they are good. That's pretty much it. I always try to skate hard and do when I play with them, too."

Vigneault would not say Thursday whether the twins and Samuelsson will remain together Friday night in Game 5, but it's hard to imagine him splitting them up after their virtuoso performance in the third period Wednesday night.

Burrows, who is pointless in the series after leading the team with 35 goals in the regular season, said Thursday he fully understands and supports the changes Vigneault made.

"I am the last guy who is going to pout about this," Burrows said. "I am just going to try and get something going with my other linemates (Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond). It worked out, we got the win and that's what is important right now."

Organizations: Canucks, Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings Los Angeles Kings Staples Center

Geographic location: VANCOUVER, Washington

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