“And He Didn’t Shoot Wide!” A Mikael Samuelsson Goal Analysis


If you’ve read my work before, you’re aware of my feelings of Mikael Samuelsson.  For any new readers, here’s how I feel about Samuelsson: “OH GOD WHY WHY WHY DID THE WINGS SIGN HIM NO NO NO NO NO OH AND HE GOT A NO TRADE CLAUSE I QUIT LIFE”.  Yeah.  While yes, Samuelsson is best known for going offsides and missing the net with his ever so wild shot, even a blind squirrel can find a nut once in a while.  Let’s look at one of those times.

I’m going to break down Samuelsson’s OT goal against Chicago in game 2 the 2009 Western Conference Finals.  This was the first and only overtime Red Wings playoff game I’ve been to, so it makes sense that Samuelsson decided to score the goal.  Ugh.  Okay let’s get on with it before I change my mind.  Let’s do our usual and start with a video of the goal:

I was happy the Wings won, but why couldn’t Fil have buried that?  Oh well.  Let’s set up the play.  The Wings had Samuelsson, Hudler and Filppula as their forwards.  Lebda and Ericsson were on defense, but had nothing to do with this play (sidenote:  the Wings won a cup with Samuelsson and Lebda on the roster.  Just how good was Lidstrom?).  The Hawks had Brian Campbell (hahaha) and I think this goal is starting to make sense.  Let’s begin the breakdown!

I can’t find a video that goes back any further, so I have  no idea why Hudler is down low (sometimes this is necessary, sometimes not, can’t say for sure here).  Filppula was the center on this line, meaning his responsibility in the defensive zone is to cover down low.  This leaves Samuelsson as the only forward to cover the Chicago defensemen on the point.  Yikes.  As the puck gets passed back to Brian Campbell at the point, Sammy actually makes a really good play.  He recognizes that he has to block the lane across the center as well as pressure Campbell with the puck.  Does he follow through?

Wow, Sammy does something responsible in the defensive zone!  First time for everything.  He quickly gets out and forces Campbell into a quick decision.  Sammy is able to put his stick on the ice to take away the lane for Campbell across the center of the ice.  The smart play for Campbell here is to get it to the guy on the boards or just dump it behind the net.  But, because he’s Brian Campbell and he sucks, he tries to make a fantastic move and pass it to his defensive partner, who is open.  But, thanks to Sammy (ow that hurts), there is no way the puck can get through.  So, what happens next?

So because Campbell sucks and Sammy makes the first good defensive play of his career, this looks to be good.  Campbell ends up with his stomach on the ice.  Samuelsson, after making the defensive play, sees Hudler and Filppula streaking up the ice.  There is lots of open ice up in the neutral zone, and with Huds and Fil on their way, Sammy makes another smart play and I’m going to be sick.

Yep, with so much open ice, Sammy gives Huds a long pass so Huds can try and concentrate on skating, which you know, is tough for Huds.  So, yes, another smart play for Sammy, mostly because this will make it harder for him to go offsides.  The Chicago defenseman (Barker I think…it’s not important) is getting back into position and actually does a fair job.  Sad for him and awesome for us, it’s a 3 on 1, which are somewhat harder to defend than a 2 on 1.  So, what does Huds do with the puck?

Huds dishes the puck off to Fil before the Chicago d-man can get into proper position.  This gets the puck on the right side of the ice, making it easier for Sammy to one-time it since we all know Fil probably won’t shoot it.  Okay Fil give it to Sammy!

BAM.  Perfect pass from Fil.  As you can see, the Chicago d-man takes away the pass from Fil to Huds.  With Huds being closer to the net, you sorta kinda have to block that lane.  In my opinion, his mistake was not using his stick to at least try and block the passing lane from Fil to Sammy.  Of course, he’s in the NHL and I play in the D leagues.  Anyway.  So now, Sammy is in perfect position.  Could Sammy screw this one up and shoot it over the net behind the glass?  Let’s find out!


Let’s take another look just to make sure:

I can’t believe I’m about to type these words, but….what a figgin’ play by Mikael Samuelsson.  And after this, he did nothing of value for three years and the Wings signed him.  Faaaantastic!

In summary, we have Sammy being forced to cover both Chicago defenseman.  He makes a great play (being helped by the fact that he is covering Brian Campbell (who sucks)) and forces a turnover.  He then gives a great lag pass for Hudler.  Huds gives it to Fil who gives it to Sammy for the slam home.  Sammy did most of the work here by starting the play and finishing it, with Fil and Huds doing exactly what they were supposed to do.

You know the drill – yell at me on the twitter device (@KevinN37) if you think Samuelsson is amazing and are happy the Wings signed him.  I could use the laugh after complimenting him here.  And then give me more goals you’d like to see me breakdown.  Until next time…

…have the Wings signed a defenseman yet?