Daily Herald
Wings' Samuelsson finds comfort zone vs. Hawks
By Mike Spellman | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 5/20/2009 4:59 PM

It took a while, but Detroit right wing Mikael Samuelsson, who scored the game-winner in overtime Tuesday, has found his comfort zone with the Red Wings and that's bad news for the Blackhawks and the rest of the NHL.

"Sammy is a comfort guy," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "He needs to be comfortable. I think a lot of people are like that, but Sammy's really one of those."

Samuelsson's goal Tuesday was the second of the series for the big winger, who signed with the Red Wings in September 2005. At the time, he was bit of an unknown quantity.

"Didn't really know too much about him," said winger Kirk Maltby. "But seeing Sammy the last few years, you notice his ability, you notice his conditioning. He has a lot of talent.

"He can shoot the puck - he shoots the puck like nobody's business. He works hard in the gym. He's serious, and he wants to get better at it."

"He's just a guy who, right now, probably is playing with more confidence than he's ever had in his career," added center Kris Draper.

Not quite, according to his coach.

"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."

Beach time: Left winger Kyle Beach, the Blackhawks' first choice (11th overall) in the 2008 draft, has signed a three-year deal with the team.

Beach, 19, split this past season between the Western Hockey League's Everett Silvertips and Lethbridge Hurricanes, recording 63 points (24 goals, 39 assists) in 54 regular-season games during his major junior campaign. The Vancouver, British Columbia, native also made his professional debut this season with the AHL's Rockford Ice Hogs after signing an amateur tryout contact with the Blackhawks affiliate on April 9. He posted 15 penalty minutes in two regular-season matchups while also appearing in one postseason contest.

Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon took a long look at Beach at training camp before this season began and decided Beach needed to improve his skating, so the Hawks felt another year in juniors was best for him.

Perfect scheduling: Wednesday's day off from practice may have been the perfect tonic for the Red Wings, who get back at it Thursday with a practice in preparation for Game 3 on Friday.

"I really thought that the previous series (against Anaheim) looked to me like it caught up to us (Tuesday)," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. "We were in a real grind last series. I thought it took a toll."

The Blackhawks also will get back on the ice for practice at 11 a.m. Thursday at the United Center.