GLENDALE – Defenseman Philip Samuelsson played exactly 18 minutes on Thursday night in his first game with the Coyotes and impressed Head Coach Dave Tippett with his poise.
"I thought Philip played solid, very steady," Tippett said after Arizona’s 4-1 loss to Calgary at Gila River Arena. "He played hard and moved the puck all right. I thought that was a very good first game for him."
Samuelsson, 23, was paired with veteran Zbynek Michalek in his debut with the Coyotes. He took two shots on goal and chipped in a blocked shot in his sixth NHL game; he played his first five with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season.
Samuelsson knows Arizona well. That’s because he spent three years here while his father, Ulf, was an assistant coach with the Coyotes. He attended Notre Dame Prep High School in Scottsdale, played youth hockey in rinks around the Valley and was often seen hanging around the arena in which he played in Thursday night.
"It’s a special feeling," Samuelsson said about his first game as a member of the Coyotes. "I had a couple buddies in the stands, and it’s pretty special playing in this rink. I’ve been here a lot - when I was younger."
Philip’s younger brother Henrik, of course, also played youth hockey in Arizona and also is part of the Coyotes organization; the team selected him 27th overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and he’s currently playing for Portland in the American Hockey League.
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That’s where Philip, whom Pittsburgh drafted 61st overall in 2009, was playing, too, until the Coyotes recalled him on Tuesday.
"There’s a lot of good talent in this state, and I think the Coyotes have done a good job with the youth hockey and you can really see it’s starting to pay off," Samuelsson said.
Samuelsson killed penalties for 2:51 vs. Calgary – a team-high along with Michalek.
"It’s nice to have the confidence of the coaching staff to be thrown out on the penalty kill," Samuelsson said. "I think we did a good job. We had a lot of pressure and (Mike Smith) made some big saves."
Like his new teammates, Samuelsson was disappointed in Thursday’s outcome.
"I thought we had a good start," Samuelsson said. "A couple bounces here and there could have gone in. Obviously we need to generate some more offense, but I think we played hard. We just need to score some more."