Sunday, September 12, 2010

Every Goal Mikael Samuelsson Scored Last Season

This is the third and final entry for this weekend in the "Every Goal" series. Stay tuned next weekend as I'll be compiling every goal scored by Daniel & Henrik Sedin, as well as Alex Burrows. That's 93 goals, so I'm not looking forward to it. I'll likely be motivated, however, because there are Canucks(ish) hockey games to be watched this week. That is sweet.

Mikael Samuelsson was something of a surprise to Canucks fans last season. He joined the team from the Red Wings on a 7.5 million, 3 year contract. It seemed high, and many were skeptical he'd have an impact worth his contract, but he proved the doubters wrong with a 30-goal season, timely production, and versatility that saw him play everywhere from the first to the third line, with success in all situations. He always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, he put the whole team in a shooting mentality with his shoot-first approach to entering the offensive zone, and he was a greatteam guy. In short: he was good, see for yourself. Here is every goal Mikael Samuelsson scored last season.

1. Oct. 1 vs. the Calgary Flames
I said earlier in this series' that Edler's passing ability on the power play was sorely underrated, and here we see it again. Samuelsson's first goal of the season comes on a tip from a brilliant Edler pass. Notice as well: as soon as Sammy scores, he takes a crosscheck from a Flames player and swings his stick in retaliation. He doesn't connect, and it's a good thing. The whole thing happens in one fluid moment, but it's early evidence of Samuelsson's propensity for reacting to a slight without thinking first (you know, like a famous interview).

Another power play goal, this one on a rebound. Samuelsson joins Wellwood in front of the net, and he's left completely alone. I like the little push on Wellwood's back to let him know he's there. As soon as Wellwood realizes Samuellson's with him, he just starts nudging Mara away from the crease. Crazy observation: Wellwood is moving Paul Mara. With what, one might ask, his mind? I didn't know he had the core strength for that.

So far all of Samuelsson's goals have come on the powerplay. This one's a tap-in, as Henrik's cross-ice pass (which also would have resulted in a tap-in) doesn't get through, but Bernier's does, and Samuelsson buries it into the open net. I wonder if Bernier meant to do that, or if this was a failed tap-in of his own that wound up working out for us.

Scored from a similar position to the previous one, Samuelsson picks up a rebound off of an Alex Burrows spin attempt, gets it from his backhand to his forehand quickly, and roofs it. A skillful goal from a player whose goal-scoring prowess was already beginning to surprise. One thing I like about this powerplay tactic--the down-low pass followed by the spin and attempt to jam it--is if it doesn't work, the puck's momentum spits it out to the open man at the side of the net.

I remember this goal and thinking it was awesome. Brian Campbell tries a lazy drop pass in his own zone, with Samuelsson forechecking, and he pokes it away from Pat Kane. By the time realizes Samuelsson has the puck, he fires a great wrist shot past Niemi. One reason Samuelsson fit well with Raymond and Kesler last season was that he forechecked as hard as they did.

In this clip, Samuelsson one-times a sweet Alex Burrows pass right in front of the net. In the Kesler edition of the "Every Goal" series, I pointed out that Burrows' passing has become a major asset for him over these past two seasons, and here is more evidence of that. I know I'm claiming that nearly every one of our players is a great passer, but it's true: the Sedins are incredible passers, but Raymond, Burrows, and Edler rarely get their due. The Canucks are a very good passing team.

Speaking of forechecking, here's another example. The Raymond-Kesler-Samuelsson line was rarely all that pretty (which made for a nice counterbalance with the wizardous sedinerie of the first line. The second line just forechecked hard and potted rebounds. That's what we have here, as Raymond dumps the puck in and forces the Rangers defenseman to turn it over to Kesler. Kesler shoots it, Lundqvist gives up a rebound, and Samuelsson puts it home. Textbook for these guys.

Another garbage power play goal off a rebound, this one from a Kesler shot, but again I want to draw your attention to Alex Edler's incredible pass to get this one started. Look at it, marvel at it, recognize how good he is.

The first of what I would like to call "Sam's Surprises". These are the goals where you went, "Was that a shot?" "That went in?" "What the Heck?" Samuelsson scored a few of them. Pay special attention to John Shorthouse's commentary, as he goes to say, "Samuelsson, for Schneider, in front," but when the puck takes that weird bounce, he just stops at "in." Way to improvise, Shorty.

The passing on this play is ridiculous. Let's give Samuelsson credit for the one-timer, but Alex Edler's powerplay passing again factors into it, as does Mason Raymond's this time around. I've been banging the "Mason Raymond is a pretty good passer" drum for a couple days now, and this is another good example. His only knock is that he still can't do it at top speed with regularity. That may come this season.

This might be the only time I say this, but much of the credit for this goal goes to Darcy Hordichuk. He goes hard (really, really hard) to the net, drawing defenders and creating a messy screen. Samuelsson does what he always does and shoots the puck, and with that sort of traffic in front, there's no way LaBarbera can see it.

Can we call this one of Sam's surprises? When Shorty calls it a sharp angle shot, it might be the last great understatement of 2009. Note here the difference between Samuelsson, who shoots from there, and Raymond, who would have dragged it across the crease. This one also shows off Samuelsson's strength, as he pushes Barret Jackman off the puck smartly to free it up for him.

Another weird one, as he enters the zone without the puck, seemingly puts himself offside, then fortuitously gets the puck back and just shoots it right away. The shot itself is a laser, but the circumstances surrounding the goal are bizarre. Part of me thinks the goal counts because not even the referees were ready for him to shoot that puck. That's what Sammy does. Have puck? Check. Shoot puck? Yes.

A great forecheck by Kesler as the period is winding down leads to this play in front, as Samuelsson again scores from a pretty sharp angle. Normally, I'd get down on a player who shoots this much, and I know they called him the Logo Hunter in Detroit, but he must have improved his accuracy or something, because this many goals on quick wrist shots and bad angles can't be a fluke.

Again we see Samuelsson benefiting from some hard work on the forecheck by the second line. Mason Raymond gets the turnover, tries to wrap it around, and it squeaks out to Samuelsson, who buries it.

Much like the last goal, this one comes off some unified forechecking, as Kesler creates the turnover, then Raymond exacerbates it, and the Canucks get it back. The shot from the point is bouncing, but Samuelsson still gets a stick on it for a redirect, and it jumps over Curry. Sidenote: who the Hell is Curry?

All alone in front, Samuelsson opens the scoring in a game I fondly remember, apart from that part when Andrew Ladd tagged Kesler below the eye. I hate Ladd. Anyway, speaking of Kesler, he makes this play happen, fighting off three Blackhawks to get his first shot off, then outhustling them to get to puck a second time and tip it out to Samuelsson. I'm a big fan of Kesler's brand of playmaking. He's not the best passer in the world, but he creates scoring chances by hustling, checking, and going desperately for loose pucks. When you're skating with opportunists like Raymond and Samuelsson, that can only bode well for you. I'd love to see him with a playmaker this season, though, to add a new dynamic.

Another goal I fondly remember, this one came as a shock to everybody, because Samuelsson enters the zone with the puck on his stick and doesn't shoot it. Everybody thinks he's gonna, even Henrik Tallinder, but instead, Sammy makes a couple of jukes, then drags it to the backhand and slides it home. Way to switch it up. Notice as well the presence of the Green Men, who were an absolute blast last year, as long as we were winning. I think Vancouver collectively soured on them during the Blackhawks series, but is that really their fault? Was it ubiquity that wore that joke down or the citywide bad mood that sapped the joy from every joyful thing? Guess we'll find out this season if Force and Sully return for a second season of pressing their groins against the penalty box glass.

Wherein Samuelsson scores on a one-timer on the power play. It's a 4-on-3 power play, so there's already a lot of room, but you have to imagine the Canadiens D-corps aren't respecting Sammy's slapshot the way they'd respect Sami's slapshot. That's the mistake.

Here was have another one of Sam's Surprises, as Samuelsson's quick wrist shot is blocked by Derek Brassard, sails high in the air, and lands behind Steve Mason for the goal. It concerns me that the Canucks scored two goals of this sort last season--hopefully we didn't use up all of our flukes in 09-10.

21. Feb. 14 vs. the Minnesota Wild (at 6:41 of clip)
Another Samuelsson shot that surprises everyone. This time, he's sent in alone by Kesler, and I don't mean on a breakaway. I mean he's by himself and there's no rush developing. Still, he just skates in and snaps an unexpected wrist shot, and it goes in. It's old hat for him by now and it's more of a tendency than an anomaly, which is likely why Kesler sprung him like that.

The first in a 9-goals-in-6-games streak that pushed Samuelsson to 30 on the season for the first time in his career, improving on his previous career-high by seven. What sort of goal is it? Another of Sam's Surprises, as Samuelsson comes off the boards and shoots it at a strange time and from a strange angle. Nobody is expecting it, much less Chris Osgood, especially with the Sedins on the ice. You've got those two playmakers, both capable of their wizardous sedinerie, and you shoot the puck willy-nilly? Samuelsson, you're an odd duck.

23. Mar. 5 vs. the Chicago Blackhawks (at 7:59 of clip)
Samuelsson's goal here comes by deflecting an Andrew Alberts shot from the point. Yes, Alberts. Why is he shooting from there? Because the Canucks are down 6-2. They would go on to lose 6-3 in one of the suckiest games of the season for a Canucks fan, but it wasn't all bad. My band, Cinnamon Toast Funk, had a really awesome CD release party that night. I remember checking the score just after Skeeter's band, Hooray For Gooba opened for us, and being sorely disappointed that we were already down 5-1 or something stupid like that.

Holy cow, are these the only type of goals Samuelsson is going to score anymore? Another Sam's surprise, as he takes a slapshot from a stupid angle and it goes in. Note here that if the hockey gods aren't having a laugh, Dan Hamhuis uses his speed and angling ability to prevent a 2-on-1. It's textbook defending, right up to the point where the heavens open up and Samuelsson is kissed by the hand of fate.

I remember this game well. My wife and I were on a vacation in Cannon Beach, and I used Internet powers to pull the game up on her laptop. We were down 3-0. I checked in sporadically, the feed was laggy, and I missed almost everything. But somehow, we won. A large part of that was Mikael Samuelsson's hat trick, which began with this put-back on a Daniel Sedin rebound. Note the guy in the old-school Vancouver Millionaires jersey in the audience. He's so cool, I wish he was my dad.

Samuelsson's second goal of the evening is also on a rebound. So many of his goals last season were. Frankly, they were either rebounds or Sam's surprises; those are the ways he scores.

Samuelsson's hat trick goal is about the laziest tap-in I've ever seen. Look at him. He looks like he's putting. He looks like a less racist Fuzzy Zoeller, he does. I'm also amused by his body language here. I recognize he's watching the puck intently to see if he needs to take another whack at it, but he kind of looks like a boy poking a dead bird with a stick.

Samuelsson's 28th goal of the season comes on a forced turnover by Henrik, who pokes the puck away from Ed Jovanovski. Samuelsson gets it at the side of the net and jams it in.

The 29th goal of the season comes on the power play, as Samuelsson takes a nice pass from the point, courtesy of Pavol Demitra (who would go on to prove in the playoffs that he should never, ever, ever be back there) and fires that patented wrist shot of his.

Samuelsson gets his 30th of the season on his first breakaway goal. Backhand is where Samuelsson goes when deking, so we shouldn't be surprised that's what he does with it this time. It's a nice goal to reach that career landmark and a fitting end to this list. I like Samuelsson. I'm concerned that last season was a career year for him; he'll likely need another one just as good for the Canucks to improve on the 09-10 campaign. Here's hoping he can match his totals. Part of me doubts it, as I'm skeptical he'll get so many fortunate bounces, but this last clip demonstrates that he's got a wicked shot, luck or no luck. If he plays with the Sedins, and he should to start the season, given the Burrows injury, he'll get ample opportunities to use it.


  1. If we were such a great passing team, we probably would've gotten farther in the playoffs, no? Just sayin'.

  2. us being a great passing team has nothing to do with our defensive breakdowns.


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