Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Samuelsson Awakens? I'll Take The Credit, Thank You

You can give me the credit for the Red Wings' 2-0 dismissal of the San Jose Sharks last night. Actually, you can give me credit for just Mikael Samuelsson's breakout if you wish, but doing so is tantamount to giving me credit for most of the game.

I was sitting in the press box Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena, watching the Game 5 struggle, when I saw Samuelsson on the point on yet another power play. And it occurred to me that #37 hadn't done much, in my non-qualified mind, to earn so much PP time.

"Why does (coach Mike) Babcock keep putting Samuelsson on the point?," I asked to myself. "He hasn't DONE anything."

A few minutes later, Samuelsson proved why I'm in the press box writing about those who make the decisions on the ice, instead of being one of the actual decision makers.

Samuelsson scored on a one-timer snapshot on a -- ahem -- power play, and the Wings had a 3-1 lead 3:46 into the third period. It gave the Wings, finally, that elusive two-goal lead they had never experienced to that point.

And you know what Sammy did last night -- scoring both goals a few minutes apart late in the first period, lifting Detroit to the series victory.

Sammy came through -- with an assist from me

I'm convinced none of this would have happened had I not asked that question to myself.

"Why does Babcock have Samuelsson out there?"

Maybe I should start asking why the coach has Kyle Calder out there. But that's another post.

By the way, if it looks like goalie Dominik Hasek is playing like a man possessed, or on a mission, or both, it's because it's true -- at least the mission part.

Before the playoffs even began, I asked Hasek why he decided to come back after one year of retirement (in 2003), and what a Stanley Cup would mean to him at this stage of his career. Remember, this is a man who quit the game in 2002 because there was supposedly no more dragons to slay -- he being a Cup winner and an Olympic gold medalist.

"I wanted to see if I could do it again," he said about the comeback from retirement. "You don't know when you're going to get another chance to win the Stanley Cup. You have (Chris) Chelios 45, me 42 ... I was just glad to have the opportunity to win it again, and now here I am."

As for what it would mean to him to hoist another Cup, Hasek just paused, grinned, and shook his head.

"The Stanley Cup," he said, "is the ultimate trophy in hockey."

He didn't elaborate. He didn't have to.

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