Penguins Cup Chronicles: Ulf Samuelsson

By Palm, Mike | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 3, 2011 | Go to article overview

Penguins Cup Chronicles: Ulf Samuelsson


Palm, Mike, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Ulf Samuelsson made an impact -- literally -- on the Penguins' Stanley Cup hopes.

The physical defenseman came to the Penguins in March and, along with Ron Francis and Grant Jennings, helped strengthen the team's defense.

"I think everyone knew what a tremendous top-end skill there was with Mario (Lemieux) leading the way and just that they were lacking a few pieces there," Samuelsson said recently. "And I think the trade worked out good for the team because myself and Grant Jennings helped cure up the back end of it, and Ron Francis obviously played that second-line center behind Mario.

"That's a pretty good one-two punch, so the makeup of the team looked really good after we got there."

Physically, Samuelsson relished the chance to punish opponents. His devastating hit on Bruins right wing Cam Neely -- a longtime rival from his time in the Adams Division -- in Game 3 helped turn the tide in the Wales Conference finals.

"That hit comes up quite frequently. He was like any other top forward. That was usually my assignment, to try to eliminate the top scorer from scoring," he said. "So, my methods were, at the time, most of them were legal and pushed the envelope a little bit as far as you could take it, but it was like a different game-plan for each top line. Particularly with that line, it seemed like physical play really bothered those guys, so that was something that we focused on."

Samuelsson scored what proved to be the Stanley Cup-winning goal in Game 6 of the Final against Minnesota on a floating wrist shot from the point.

"It was at the end of a power play there, and I had no other plays. So, I just threw it at the net, and there was a lot of traffic and it found its way in," he said. "It wasn't one of my harder shots."

Q&A with ulf samuelsson

On the change from Hartford to Pittsburgh:

I really enjoyed my time in Hartford. I really wasn't thinking much about the atmosphere or stuff like that. But one thing I did recognize when I came to Pittsburgh is people loved a good, solid defensive player. So, that was something I'd been doing the previous seven years in Hartford and got some recognition for it, but in Pittsburgh, people really loved it, and that to me was very exciting.

On jumping right into the Patrick Division race:

When we got there, the team was out of the playoffs, if I'm not mistaken. There was no messing around that time of year where everyone was competing extremely hard for those playoff spots. And we got thrown right into it. It was perfect.

On the abuse he took and dealt out:

Well, it's give and take. If you give a hit, you've got to take a hit. …

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