DETROIT – Detroit forward Mikael Samuelsson has found his way back in the Red Wings’ lineup.
Samuelsson will replace Todd Bertuzzi on the fourth line for Game 3 Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.
“I have to play a simple game, that’s priority No. 1,” said Samuelsson, who has been out since suffering a pectoral muscle injury on March 31. “Skate hard and hit guys, that’s where I’m going to start and hopefully I’ll get a feel for the puck.”
Samuelsson, who injured his groin in training camp, has played just four games this season.
“I’m going to fight for every puck, try to hit guys and play hard,” Samuelsson said. “I can play hard around the puck. It doesn’t matter how much you missed.”
Samuelsson will start on the Wings’ fourth line, along with Cory Emmerton and Patrick Eaves.
“He can shoot the puck,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s no different than Bert the last game, we’re going to watch him and see what happens. If he plays real good he can play a lot. What happens is when you haven’t played a lot it’s lightning fast. It’s not lightning fast for your legs, it’s lightning fast for your mind. You can’t play the game from behind it’s impossible.”
Bertuzzi played in Game 2 after playing last on Feb. 7.
“I’ve been here before,” Samuelsson added. “Unfortunately, I got injured, but that’s nothing I think about right now. Like everybody else, I come in here really excited about tonight. Playoffs are awesome. That’s what I live and die for. It’s going to be fun.”
This will be Samuelsson’s 100th career playoff game. He has 22 goals, 36 assists and a plus-18 rating over that time.
Samuelsson, who’s a right-handed shot, will also play the point, alongside Jakub Kindl on Detroit’s second power play unit.
“I’ve never played on a line with him so I’m excited,” Eaves said. “He’s a great player and I’ve played against him. I’m glad I’m playing with him tonight. Sometime it’s instant chemistry and sometimes you learn on the fly a guy’s tendencies.”
Eaves feels getting times special teams will help Samuelsson get back mentally quicker just like it did when he returned and got back to killing penalties.
“That’s where we get our minutes,” Eaves said. “He’ll be great on the power play. He’s got a great shot. He’s a righty and that’s what we need out there. I’m excited to see him play. Sometimes it’s limited minutes and sometimes you get more. It’s unpredictable. You just have to be mentally ready for anything. He’s been a pro for a long time so he gets it.”