May 20, 2009

We have waited for this day

Mike Babcock finally unveils where his passion for Mikael Samuelsson comes from.  And no, this will not turn into a joke about penises.

(CBC), via Malik:

"Sammy's one of these guys that's a way better player than he believes," Babcock said. "If he had the confidence in himself that some of these other guys do, he'd be a high-end NHL player. Right now, he's just a good NHL player."

The revelation was nothing that Babcock hasn't shared with Samuelsson.

"We've had that same conversation I don't know how many times," Babcock said. "He knows of this. He's scored big goals for us. He has the ability, he has a rocket of a shot - we're always on him to shoot more - and he's a huge man, just absolutely a monster. He can be really physical when he wants to be, he can really skate."

It has been joked about at length how Babcock loves him some Mikael Samuelsson.  I don't recall seeing Babs break it down quite like this though.  That's some serious praise.  If you didn't know it, you would think that 2nd paragraph was about Johan Franzen.

We make light of his occasionally wayward "rocket of a shot", because it's easy.  You see him wind up, and seconds later you hear the glass screeming in pain and fans ducking for cover under their seats.  This is an easy thing to observe and then belittle him for on your stupid blog the next day.  Trust me on this.

But let's look deeper into the world of Mikael Samuelsson.  He's a man who loves poetry, dines on candied yams and is one of those "recycle Nazis" that come to your house and demand either a bag of empty bottles or your first born.  These are all indisputable facts.  What we often fail to acknowledge, however, is that he is a dogged defender -- an excellent complementary winger to any shut-down line.  He goes through prolonged droughts scoring-wise, but he doesn't let it effect his defensive responsibility.

He's sometimes the most physical forward (well, mainly before Darren Helm ... which with each increasing day is like referring to pre-Jesus times) who can muck it out in the corners and push pucks along the boards.  Or he can pick up a lose puck and wire one to the top corner, apparently, according to what my eyes think they saw in Game 1.  And he's not a burner but he's got a good skating stride.  Look at this.  Did it look like Fleury saw that coming?  Emerick was caught so off guard that his tongue almost fell out of his mouth.  

So, does this make him the total package?  Physical, sound in all three zones, good size, hard shot .... does this sound like a guy that never gets any credit?  Of course not, it sounds like fucking Gordie Howe.  I'm not saying that I'll never make fun of Samuelsson ever again ... quite the contrary, I'm currently working on a screenplay where I'm a wizard-for-hire and Sammy is a 22nd century lovechild of Helen Keller and a golden retriever.  But his play of late definitely warranted some praise.  Between he and Andreas Lilja, I don't know what to think anymore.


Brian said...

"we're always on him to shoot more." Eh? In 05-06, Samuelsson had 2.63 SOG per game, 3.57 in 06-07, 3.41 in 07-08, and 3.17 in 08-09. This puts him, respectively, fourth, second, second, and fourth on the Wings in each of those seasons. He has never, at least as long as I have had the opportunity to watch him, had a problem with passing up shots.

Unfortunately, his shots suck; he boasts a career shooting% of 7.3. For comparison, renowned snipers Draper, Maltby, and Downey shoot 9.5, 9.2, and 9.4. I haven't investigated in detail, but Samualsson's figure might very well be the worst of any forward with comparable playing time. At least, it must be on the short list. While you make fun of him for the shots he misses, the real problem is the shots he doesn't miss.

Matt Saler said...

I think we may have branched off into some alternate universe. Or at least the old Lilja and Samuelsson were switched with Liljas and Samuelssons from one.

It's getting weird. Seems like Lija's legend grows every day he's out and Samuelsson's now #1 Gun, Interceptor of Pucks and Defeater of Punks.

Tyler said...

His shot selection is questionable to me. This shows the average shot distance for each Wing that played at least 50 games:

Sammy's average shot distance was greater than any other forward, and his percentage was the lowest. He was third in shots on goal while getting the 13th most ice time/game. I think if he gave it some more thought he'd hang onto the puck once in a while.

Anonymous said...

I remember his game 1 winner, you know when he knocked done the shot from the point, then started skating to the circle. I told my 16 y/o, just before he unleashed his shot: "at least Sammy will shoot the friggin puck" -- then blammo.

Sammy more than makes up for some of the Forwards tendency to pass and set up the "pretty play" rather than shoot. And by some miracle in these playoffs, he is actually hitting the net. As Mick says, putting pucks toward the net is never a bad idea.

Jeff, OKWingnut

RT said...

it's gonna be weird to see guys like sammy, kopecky, and even huds in different jerseys next year

at least we locked up mule and Z cuz i prolly woulda puked all over myself if i saw them in something like oilers' or canucks' jerseys

Tyler said...

RT I'm still holding out hope for Jiri, I love the guy. Like in a gay way, I think.

I know a guy who worked for the Griffs when Hudler was there. He said at a party one time, after Jiri had a wee bit of drink in him, he challenged the guy to a wrestling match. "You -- me -- wrestle" was all he said. And so they did, and Jiri's slight 4'9" 120 pound frame, drunk and all, took out my friend and celebrated like he had conquered Everest. I assume this story to be true because life would be 5% less enjoyable if it wasn't.

It might be from this story alone that makes me wish Jiri is a Wing for life.

RT said...

dude i know what you mean about huds...he lives somewhere around me and i just pray that ill run into him plastered at the bar one night. its mostly from watching this:

what scares me is that he's restricted so anyone can make an offer sheet and if we dont wanna match it then hes gone... and theres a multitude of teams (edmonton, nashville, columbus to name a few) with cap room willing to overpay for young talent that knows how to win like he does. in the meanwhile im gonna enjoy:

lets go red vings!
hakytawn babay!

Baroque said...


I will cry - or scream - or something. He's such a spunky little squirt.

yzemaze said...

keep in mind: if Happy won't sign an offer sheet TickTock won't have to match one...

Shane said...

couple points...

1. Sammy's high shot distance can be partially attributed to his playing the point on PP. Not all, he still takes some questionable shots (I used to feel the same about Z but lately I would rather see him shoot the puck than skate wide and try to circle the goal for a centering pass to the net-crashing winger that isn't there over and over and over), but that's a part of it.

2. Lilja's legend is growing, but not without reason, Matt. He's a penalty killer, we're pretty terrible on the PK statistically. He was one of our best defensive D-men when our defensive malaise was at it's worse. He may not peak as high as Stuart or Kronner, obviously, but he is steadier than Kronwall who gambles quite a bit and Stuart seems only to come alive (and turn into a monster) in the playoffs.

Also, don't forget he's tough- remember the appendix surgery adn a game the next day earlier this season?- and that he's got experience with being (falsely) accused and tried for sexual assault. I somehow feel that this experience is relevant and useful in the possible eventuality that the wings will beat the Hawks and get the Penguins in the finals again.