Staal: Samuelsson hire will ‘pay big dividends’ for Rangers D


Of all the coaching changes in New York this summer, one is likely to affect Marc Staal more than the others — the hiring of Ulf Samuelsson as assistant coach.

“It’s going to be great learning from Ulf, and it will pay big dividends I think for all of our defensemen,” Staal told Blueshirts United. “He’s coached a long time and worked with a lot of different players. And obviously his vast experience in playing the game, and knowing what we go through on a day to day basis, will make him an important guy for all of this season.”

Samuelsson, 49, was hired in June to join Alain Vigneault’s staff. The former NHL defenseman has extensive assistant coaching experience — he was with the Coyotes from 2006-11, working under Wayne Gretzky for the first three years of his tenure, then Dave Tippett for the last two.

Last season, Samuelsson was the head coach of Modo of the Swedish Elite League, taking the club to a seventh-place finish in the regular season and a quarterfinal loss in the playoffs.

Samuelsson also has experience with the Rangers organization, having served as an assistant with AHL Hartford during the 2005-06 campaign. That year, he coached two key cogs of the current New York defense — Staal and Dan Girardi.

Staal, who joined the Wolf Pack for the playoffs after finishing up with OHL Sudbury, remembers the time well.

“Even in those couple of weeks he gave me some important tips,” said Staal, who was 19 at the time. “I think it’s going to be great to have him here now. He played in the NHL for so long and he knows what he is talking about and is a very good coach and a good guy.”

Measure of revenge? Red Wings bottle Lightning

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In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.

For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.

Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.

Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.

They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.

Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.

Hands of gold: Connor McDavid scores his first NHL goal


Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.

The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.

To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).

Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:

Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):

McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: