Mikael Samuelsson, second from right, and the Wings celebrate Samuelsson's goal against Buffalo in the season opener on Wednesday. (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
Raleigh, N.C. — The way Mikael Samuelsson fell flat onto the ice, it couldn’t been scripted any better.
As the Red Wings were walking onto the ice at PNC Arena for their Friday morning skate, Samuelsson forgot to take off his soakers and as he stepped, fell onto the ice to the thunderous catcalls and cheers of teammates.
"Just wanted to get a laugh out of them," said Samuelsson, unconvincingly. "At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it."
There was a smile and laughter to his answer, something Samuelsson was missing last season because of numerous injuries.
The fact Samuelsson made it through training camp without any injuries, then scored the Red Wings' first goal of the season on opening night gives him optimism going forward.
"So far, so good," Samuelsson said. "But it's only one game. You need to be healthy in this game. You need to be healthy, or you have no business in this league.
"You have to play. It's a long season but it's good to be healthy.
"It feels good to be part of the team."
The Red Wings feel Samuelsson can be an asset if he stays healthy. He still has one of the hardest shots on the team, he has size and plays with a bit of an edge to his game, along with a veteran's presence, that can be of help.
But Samuelsson has to find a way to stay in the lineup.
"The reality is he didn't play last year," coach Mike Babcock said, noting Samuelsson's four games in the regular season and five in the playoffs. "He's been away for a couple of years prior to that (having left via free agency). We need him to be an impact player."
Samuelsson is in a battle for playing time with several forwards who could be forced out once Darren Helm (back) and Patrick Eaves (knee, ankle sprain) return from the long-term injured list.
"They're battling for jobs," Babcock said. "Getting off to a good start is important for those guys."
As long as he's healthy, Samuelsson feels he can earn himself a job.
"If I don't believe in myself, nobody else is," Samuelsson said. "People can say what they want, but I haven't forgotten how to play hockey. I couldn't do what I normally do last season but I had reasons (injuries). You can't contribute the way you want when you're not healthy.
"But I feel good now when I wake up in the morning and that's a good feeling."
Alfredsson a go
Forward Daniel Alfredsson (groin) took part in the morning skate and pronounced himself ready to play against Carolina.
Alfredsson didn't practice Thursday back in Detroit because of a tender groin.
"I feel good, ready to go," Alfredsson said.
One of the reasons the Red Wings are optimistic the power play will thrive more so than last season is because of Alfredsson's powerful shot from the point.
The Red Wings didn't convert in the season opener but opportunities were created because of Alfredsson's shot.
"He adds a dimension," Babcock said.
Babcock was up against three potential Team Canada players he could be coaching February in Russia, in Carolina goalie Cam Ward and forwards Eric and Jordan Staal.
Scouting Red Wings opponents or players on Team Canada, there isn't much difference in the two responsibilities.
"You just do your job," Babcock said. "I have to know who the other team's good players are, on any of the teams. They have a lot of good guy there (the Hurricanes). You'd have to know them whether coaching Team Canada or not."