Samuelsson Flying Under the Radar
The Media is always quick to jump on a player for not doing well, as was the case after Samuelsson was on the ice for four goals in the Columbus game and in the box for their 5th, but since the start of the season, and all through the pre-season, one of the best players on the ice has been hardly noticed by anyone and has gone almost unnoticed in any praise handed out after the game. In Tuesday’s papers, the Province, Sun and even smaller papers like 24 Hours, Salo got full coverage, Daniel got coverage, and you’d think third would be the Canucks best players as of late right? No, Mitchell got a full page in The Province. He also got a brief couple of paragraphs of passing mention in The Province. Sometimes the media are blind, or maybe they’re just so sucked into their own
With all the drama surrounding Luongo’s slow start, Shirokov getting sent down, Sedin’s broken foot and Salo’s latest injury, Samuelsson has been slowly plugging away and is one of the main reasons this team’s offense is still clicking. Most recently after Salo went down in the Dallas game Samuelsson stepped up replacing Salo on the point and walked away from the game with two powerplay assists. He would have had three if Henrik had treated his shot on the odd man break like more of a shot than a tap-in into an empty net.
In five games the native of Mariefred, Sweden has 5 points – 2 goals and 3 assists. You can hardly blame his -2 rating on poor play as he was -4 in the Columbus game and the majority of that was largely due to Luongo’s terrible play. He would have been a +2 were it not for that game and with the exception of the one bad penalty he took in that same Columbus game he’s been penalty free in the other four games. While he was pretty quiet in the pre-season he was skating well and it looked like he’d gelled well with the Sedins. It’s just surprising he’s gone unnoticed while quietly assisting and scoring.
Samuelsson’s play on the powerplay is a big reason the Canucks boast the 3rd best powerplay(after last night’s games. 2nd going into last night’s games) and has found his place nicely. A lot of people were predicting that for the money he’s been paid he’s going to be a bust. He was seen as the scapegoat in Detroit and after leaving a lot of Red Wings fans suggested he was going to be just as disappointing. I like what I see from him so far. He’s been playing solidly at both ends of the ice, and if you watched in particular the two goals he set up against Dallas his presence in drawing two defenders was key in allowing Kesler the time to skate off the boards and snap a shot, and the reason Burrows had enough room infront of the net to get the shot off. He was the best player on the ice in a game that saw the Canucks start to adapt to a Daniel and Salo-less team and yet he didn’t make the stars list.
With Daniel out of the lineup I think the Canucks should drop Bernier back to the third line, or rather Line 2B and bump Samuelsson up with Burrows and Henrik. That would allow for Shirokov to get called up since Desbiens was sent back down and I think Shirokov’s play making alongside Kesler and Raymond would really benefit form their speed. Or, if you keep Samuelsson on the second line, Shirokov’s play-making would really complement Henrik’s new shoot-more-pass-later attitude that he had to adopt on Sunday against Dallas with his brother being out. Samuelsson’s got high expectations in my books. He’s off to a good start, and with that blip on the radar against Columbus he’s been quietly one of the best Canucks on the ice so far in this young season.