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Posted at 10:33 AM ET, 02/ 9/2011

Alexander Semin's return yields mixed results

By Gene Wang

The Washington Capitals got back one of their most potent scoring threats last night, and although Alexander Semin wasn't able to play at full throttle as he continues to heal from a groin injury, there were at least several encouraging moments.

On the ice for the first time since Jan. 8, Semin led the Capitals with four shots during a 2-0 loss to San Jose at Verizon Center. He also resumed his familiar spot on the power play, leading all forwards with 3 minutes 13 seconds on that unit.

But his physical fitness after the lengthy layoff was such that Semin wasn't able to maneuver as he normally does, and thus he skated fewer shifts and spent less time on the ice as the game extended.

"I didn't think he was sharp. I didn't think he wasn't," Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "The third period he looked a little tired. His shifts were short, so probably the game conditioning isn't where it should be. He had some chances, I thought, but I mean he wasn't sharp or he would have put them in."

Semin remains the team's second leading goal scorer with 18, including three hat tricks, despite having not scored since Nov. 28 and having missed the past 12 games. He's missed 15 games overall this season.

Semin recently signed a one-year contract extension worth $6.7 million. The Capitals considered a multi-year deal, according to General Manager George McPhee, but Semin and his agent decided a one-year deal was the best fit.

Coming off a season in which he scored a career-high 40 goals, Semin has 35 points in 40 games this season. His point total is the third most on the club. Only Alex Ovechkin (55) and Nicklas Backstrom (50) have more.

"He hasn't played in a while, so maybe he's not as sharp as he wanted to be," center Mathieu Perreault said. "But I'm sure he's going to get back to his game pretty quickly."

By Gene Wang  | February 9, 2011; 10:33 AM ET
Categories:  Alexander Semin  
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Comments

Please trade this guy and bring in the necessary pieces we need to bring us a cup.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 9, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

did they ever figure out why McPhee stormed out of the locker room after the Habs game?

Posted by: _stevo | February 9, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I think Semin did fine his first game back after missing 12. On the upside he created chances. On the downside he looked a little ragged in the 3rd and wasn't quite as sharp and maneuverable as usual.

@icehammer97 & capscoach:
I can see where you're both coming from with regards to learning something. I kinda had the same thoughts as capscoach. But, there are things to learn from last night's game besides the obvious "execute the game plan". :) The next thing to learn, is along the lines of what icehammer was saying, you have to get shots through and on net. San Jose did a good job of getting sticks in the the shooting lanes. I don't know how many they blocked like that, but it seemed like a bunch to me. So you have to make adjustments, lateral moves, one step more, one step less, and the like seem like places to start.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | February 9, 2011 11:09 AM | Report abuse

I wonder why I'm still surprised by the number of people screaming "the sky is falling" after one loss to a good team. I should be used to that attitude by now, but I guess the level of response still amazes me. People, we just played to great games and beat 2 very good teams handily.

Take a deep breath and see what happens over the next 10 games. If we don't put together another 6-7 great games during that span, then you can go off all you want.

What's worse is the number of irregular posters we get after a loss. We have two great games. Then suddenly after one loss, all these people who didn't feel the need to post anything when we played well come out and huff and puff.

Yes, our season hasn't been what we all wanted. But we're still in a good position in the standings. Just as we knew coming into the season, the only thing that matters is the playoffs. It would be nice to see more consistency before then and see more games like the previous two, but we all know they're capable of that kind of play. Let's just see whether they can keep it up in the playoffs.

Posted by: TheDoubleAlex | February 9, 2011 11:47 AM | Report abuse

The two "very good teams" we beat over the weekend were just taken apart by Buffalo and Columbus respectively and I don't think either one of those teams are sniffing playoff contention right now. Just sayin'.........

Posted by: PhilR | February 9, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Detroit was recently shut out in consecutive games by Columbus and Nashville. So what.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 9, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

@_stevo

Good question. However, I don't think you'll ever get the answer. One would need to aspire to be a worthwhile, bona fide reporter to bring real news to their audience. And unfortunately, nobody covering the capitals here does this. Its a good place to come for quotes and some stats. It used to be an OK place to find some good links to other relevant/interesting stories (sadly, the Morning Reading List is gone). But don't look for any real reporting.

Luckily, though, you'll get some entertaining speculation in the comments section.

Posted by: CalleJoFan | February 9, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

The two very good teams????

TB's D about is soft and immobile as it gets.

Pittsburgh fielded and AHL lineup at the C position. Thats why we were able to keep control of the puck.

Were those wins good? Yes they were good wins, bc we needed them due to the direction we were sliding. But to label TB as very good is a stretch. Pitt is very good when you know, two of the top 7 players in the league are in the lineup. But when they aren't, they are average.

Posted by: ThePat | February 9, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

jtorre9 from previous thread

I think that you need to reread my post. I didn't say anything about Ovi not playing hard (physical) or not skating with the puck. I did say that he constantly loses the puck through mishandling of the puck either when he is skating with it or trying to receive a pass or trying to complete a pass. It is you who need to watch the game. I sit there & wonder each time he handles the puck how he is going to screw it up. Make a real effort to concentrate on this next game.

Posted by: sidehillman | February 9, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: sidehillman | February 9, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

@ those who suggested trade in a recent thread:

Agree that Iginla could be just what we need as a 2C to make the big push.

But not at the price of giving up "Sasha Minor"--that would just be too much like a "Gift of the Magi" scenario:

SHE: Because you are so proud of your shinbones, I bought you shinbone polish for Christmas.

HE: And I bought you cuticle frames for your lovely cuticles...

SHE (sobbing)...but I had to sell my cuticles for the money to buy you the shinbone polish...

HE: (wobbling over to comfort her) That's OK, honey...I sold my shinbones so that I could buy you the cuticle frames...

(fade out)

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 9, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

from previous thread

boomer44

I guess after so many years of disappointment, I was pretty much resigned to the Caps never doing anything significant---UNTIL last year. At that time, I thought that finally it was their time. This even after their meltdown in the Mont. series. Now this, yea probably the most disappointing.

Posted by: sidehillman | February 9, 2011 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: sidehillman | February 9, 2011 11:59 AM | Report abuse

McPhee stormed out of the locker room because he was mad. There you go, now you can resume your lives.

Posted by: _Mark | February 9, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I am starting to think that if B. Gordon tried to deke the defender every rush up ice he would be having about as much success as Ovechkin is having this season if not more. A player should not be allowed to get away with this many turnovers game after game just inside the blueline no matter how talented. Dump it in and hit the guy hard in the corner. Then when you’ve been doing that for a while a deke here and there might be more successful again.

How about calling out players other than the rookie goaltender who went more than 111 minutes without allowing a goal. The first one should not have gone in and it hurts when the second goal comes so soon after the first but Neuvy was not the problem last night.

Posted by: BorntoHula | February 9, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

@TheDoubleAlex

I'll remember your post and then send a follow up after 6-7 games. If they do succeed the hit me up. But they haven't put together 6-7 wins since November.

Posted by: blanknerc | February 9, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

@Rhino

havent read the previous thread but Iginla is not even a C. So no he is not the answer to our 2C position. He is a RW. People need to wake up and realize what positions people play before they suggest trades like that.

Posted by: ThePat | February 9, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Wow, these are the responses I get? That's the best I can expect?

@PhilR: So? So, because the two teams lost to inferior teams, that makes them not good teams? Come on. That's just silly.

@ThePat: Regardless of how soft TB's D is, they're still a very good team, as evidenced by the fact that they're second place in the East. And yes, Pittsburgh was missing its top 2 centers who are great players. We were missing Semin, Fehr and Green for most of the game. Are they equivalent? No, but it's not like they're devastated by injuries and we're full-strength. If they're at 70%, then we're at 80%. Oh, and Pitt is not average without those two, considering they were 4-1 without them going into our game.

@blanknerc: I doubt I'll hear from you again, since this is the first I remember seeing your name on here, but please re-read what I said. I said to give them 10 games, and see whether they put together 6-7 great games like the TB and Pitt ones. So, you can get back to me in 6-7 games, but I don't know why you would.

I know my previous post was in vain, since the majority on this blog just love to be negative no matter what, but it had to be said. Just calm down, people.

Posted by: TheDoubleAlex | February 9, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"I wonder why I'm still surprised by the number of people screaming "the sky is falling" after one loss to a good team." -TheDoubleAlex

I take it that you have been out of the country for the past two months.

Semin did score the first goal of the game last night, but for a ridiculous screw-up by the referee. If he doesn't score a hat trick every game, a lot of people give him zero credit - including his coach, it appears.

Posted by: zmega | February 9, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

@DoubleAlex

You really think Pittsburgh is a good team without those two in the lineup?????? And yes I know we had W's out of the lineup and yes we are playing like an average team right now. I said it was a good win given our current circumstances. But Pitt is far from a great team and far from a good team without Crosby and Malkin.

And check back with me when your very good team TB checks out of the playoffs in round 1. You know Roloson is an average goalie who just plays out of his mind against us right?

Philly and Boston are the only two teams in my opinion that are very good in the East.

Posted by: ThePat | February 9, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

And I know youll probably come back saying Boston is average, but they are built like a playoff team and have a goalie that can carry them. In fact they have two goalies that can carry them.

Posted by: ThePat | February 9, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse

And Toronto just traded Beuchamin to the Ducks for Lupul.

Posted by: ThePat | February 9, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

@ those who were talking trade a couple of threads ago:

Agree that Iginla could be just what the Caps need at 2C for a big push.

But not at the price of Sasha Minor. That would be just too much like a "Gift of the Magi" scenario:

SHE: "Because you're so proud of your shinbones, I bought you shinbone polish for Christmas!"

HE: "...and I got you cuticle frames for your lovely cuticles!"

SHE (sobbing): "...but I had to sell my cuticles for the money to buy you the shinbone polish!"

HE: (wobbling over to comfort her): "That's OK darling. I sold my shinbones so I could buy you the cuticle frames."

As they stagger forth into a bleak and uncertain future--he without shinbones and she without cuticles, the camera fades out...

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 9, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

FYI

Toronto traded Beauchemin to Anaheim for Lupul.

@ThePat

Tell me McPhee has something up his sleeve.

@TheDoubleAlex

Pittsburgh is terrible without Malkin and Crosby. Terrible.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 9, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Beauchemin was trade to the Ducks for Joffrey Lupul. Interesting.

@TheDoubleAlex

Many people on this board panic and curl up in the fetal position if the Caps let up a goal. So expect an insane "the sky is falling" routine after any and every loss the Caps have. It is what this board is.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 9, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

The sky is falling, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria!!! By the sound of things you'd think this team is as bad as the Isles or Oilers.

@thePat - the Lightening have the 4th most points in the league, they've won 60% of their games and have the highest scoring player in the league on their team. That classifies them as a good team, regardless of what you think. Don't let the facts get in the way of your arguement.

This blog cracks me up!!

Posted by: DaleHunter | February 9, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Concur with zmega -- Semin DID score the first goal last night and it was a beautiful shot. on the move, leaning back and perfectly placed. Obviously too hot for goalie to handle because he slowed it down then it slid down him and still had enough momentum to slid across the line. Why the ref blew the whistle so quick is beyond me

Posted by: humbleandfree | February 9, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

"He hasn't played in a while, so maybe he's not as sharp as he wanted to be," center Mathieu Perreault said. "But I'm sure he's going to get back to his game pretty quickly."

Look in the mirror. 12 pts, 28 games and your groin is fine.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | February 9, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

@thePat - did you think the 121 point Caps weren't a good team last year when they bowed out in the 1st round? Just curious

Posted by: DaleHunter | February 9, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

despite being terrible without their top 2 guns (and remember Asham, he's another big part of that team), Pitt still has a very good work ethic and they don't take losing lying down. If you replaced Conner, Tangradi, and Jeffrey with Crosby, Malkin, and Asham, that's a HUUUGe improvement.

I thought the Caps played predictably hard and aggressive v Tampa (who I think is still a big pretender). I thought we played at a lesser but still generally acceptable level v the Pens. And I didn't think we could keep up that pace for a 3rd straight game. And we didn't.

I saw Pat's note about the Beauchemin trade, too bad. He wouldve been great here. Not many players can play as hard as he does at both ends of the ice. He's about as competitve as they come. Toronto also has Kris Versteeg as an informally listed available player. I'd love to get him on our team. He's like another Hendricks type who can play in any situation and on multiple lines, multiple roles.

Ovechkin at least looks to be resembling his older self. He's been better on the forecheck. Still turning the puck over but at least his aggressiveness is back.

btw, Carlson was a monster v the Pens. Just unbelievable on every shift. He really helped fill the void left by MG.

Alzner was a disappointment in that game. He was very passive all game long. He only had one shift in the 3rd pd where he actually engaged a forward along the boards - Kunitz.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 9, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

@DaleHunter

I thought the Caps were a very talented team with flaws. I was not shocked when they lost to Montreal. So yes I thought the Caps were a good team, not very good. Same thing I think about the Lightning and that is why I think they will be out in the first round. It obviously all depends on matchups but TB is a year away and a few adjustments from going farther. I still think goaltending for them is a big issue.

Posted by: ThePat | February 9, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Semin - and please don't trade him - probably should've gotten a conditioning stint. He didn't look sharp. And yet...he was the only one who generated chances hitting a post and scoring a goal even while his skating looked pretty bad. (Of course, the goal was disallowed but it was a goal...)

It is absurd to think that a dump-and-chase and cycle game will win over the long haul with this team. Any kind of approach to any game which requires simply "outtrying" your opponent is stupid - all teams "try" and some teams will have better "cyclers" than ours. The question we should ask is what is exceptional on this team? Skill. Can skill alone win? No. Can we learn lessons from other sports? Yes. (Writers can learn lessons from artists and musicians and vica versa. To think we cannot extrapolate from other sports is absurd.)

So what sport and what team? Football and Barcelona in particular. They have two or three very tough players - enforcers and tacklers, if you will. They have six or seven highly skilled and creative players. Football has a higher injury rate than hockey, the injuries tend to be more serious, and physical intimidation at the top levels of that sport is a huge factor. A team like Barcelona was not supposed to be able to win all the hardware. They've done it by being true to their identity and by fully embracing a game that emphasizes skill. They have toughness, but they don't expect it from Messi, Xavi, and Iniesta.

This edition of the Caps has Backstrom, Ovechkin, Green, Semin. At their best, there is not a more skilled core in the league. If we're going to win with these players we should try to find to fully embrace what they can do rather than pine that they are not "tough" or have no heart.

Posted by: RedLitYogi | February 9, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

@thePat - the Lightening have the 4th most points in the league, they've won 60% of their games and have the highest scoring player in the league on their team. That classifies them as a good team, regardless of what you think. Don't let the facts get in the way of your arguement.

This blog cracks me up!!

Posted by: DaleHunter

you have a Dale Hunter moniker and you make silly points like this? Shame!

the FACTS are that teams with lesser regular season points can actually be much better teams than ones that are higher up in the standings. Unless of course you think that the NHL 'season' ends in April.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 9, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

This edition of the Caps has Backstrom, Ovechkin, Green, Semin. At their best, there is not a more skilled core in the league. If we're going to win with these players we should try to find to fully embrace what they can do rather than pine that they are not "tough" or have no heart.
------------------------------

What's the definition of insanity?? Isn't that exactly what they were doing for 3 years???

Posted by: joek443 | February 9, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3 Beachemin for Lupul?? What a rip-off! Now the Caps could've used Beachemin. Who is Lupul on our team? (Poti? Gordo+Steckel?)

Posted by: RedLitYogi | February 9, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

You really think Pittsburgh is a good team without those two in the lineup?????? And yes I know we had W's out of the lineup and yes we are playing like an average team right now. I said it was a good win given our current circumstances. But Pitt is far from a great team and far from a good team without Crosby and Malkin.

And check back with me when your very good team TB checks out of the playoffs in round 1. You know Roloson is an average goalie who just plays out of his mind against us right?

Philly and Boston are the only two teams in my opinion that are very good in the East.

Posted by: ThePat

@thePat: If you think Philly and Boston are the only very good teams in the East, then there's not much I can say to you other than to watch some hockey. Sure, it's possible that TB will lose first round of the playoffs, but they're still a very good team right now. And obviously Pitt isn't as good without their top 2, but they're still a very good team. And again, you have to keep in mind that we were missing a 40-goal scorer, a 20-goal scorer, and our #1 D-man. Injury-wise we weren't a whole lot better off than they were.

Posted by: TheDoubleAlex | February 9, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

@ThePat:

OK, OK, so I screwed up. The central point (no pun intended) was that, while I was for acquiring Iginla, I was against giving up Semin to get him; IMO the whole idea behind getting a "serious" 2nd line pivot is to gain time and space for Sasha Minor, making the 2nd line a real and viable threat to score beaucoup goals and thus drawing some focus away from the top line and by extension creating some extra time & space for them too. When that happens, opposing teams can no longer shut the Caps down completely by focusing their entire shutdown efforts against the "8-19-[insert random winger]" line: either those opposing shutdown guys will try to stifle both lines and get exhausted, or they'll pick one for the two to focus on leaving the other to run riot.

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 9, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

This edition of the Caps has Backstrom, Ovechkin, Green, Semin. At their best, there is not a more skilled core in the league. If we're going to win with these players we should try to find to fully embrace what they can do rather than pine that they are not "tough" or have no heart.


Posted by: RedLitYogi

I think 3 of the ones you mentioned have displayed "heart" in a very overt manner.

And its critical for your skill guys to also have a very workmanlike work ethic.

I think the trials/tribulations of this year has been good for this group. They're not at the level they need to be at because frankly, you're trying to extract a lot more grit and character out of a group which didn't have a lot of it to begin with. They're operating near mass capacity in that regard.

This is where an astute GM comes in and makes 2 or 3 good moves to boost the overall competitive spirit of the team.

hinty hinty

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 9, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

@TheDoubleAlex

Yeah I dont think I need to watch more hockey, I watch enough.

To me "very good teams" are locks to win their 1st round matchup regardless of who is on the other side. Right now in the East that is only Philly and Boston.

If you think TB and Pitt(w/out Crosby and Malkin) are locks then you are the one who needs to watch more hockey.

So maybe you think there are 8 very good teams in the East alone, to which you need to redefine what you think is very good. Bc you think half the league is very good then considering the West is better than the East for the most part.

Posted by: ThePat | February 9, 2011 1:08 PM | Report abuse

First shot has been fired with that trade - stuff should start happening now. Not with us of course, we will go get people like Walker and Corvo who suck.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | February 9, 2011 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Beachemin for Lupul?? What a rip-off!
-------------------------------------

Let the GM apologists claim in the future that there were no good dmen available. When every year good dmen get moved around for various reasons while we have to suffer thru the Corvos.

I'm almost satisfied with our D as it currently stands. But I think Poti will get moved back in here and then the D gets weaker. Then you'll have two guys in your lineup on D who don't have the stomach for playoff type hockey.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 9, 2011 1:08 PM | Report abuse

@Rhino40

I agree with your opinion that a 2C would benefit Semin greatly. Do I have confidence that we are going to pick one up, Id say Im about at 50% on believing we will actually acquire one that is good enough. I think GMGM will try but wont give up what it takes to get the 2C we need.

Posted by: ThePat | February 9, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton01 - thinking about it, though, you're right about heart. Xavi, Messi, and Iniesta may not be tough, but all three of them go into the real danger areas without fear. All three of them know that one day their career will end or their abilities badly eroded because a defender will catch them on the knee or ankle. All three of them endure painful tackles numerous times in each game. And they get up and go into those danger areas because that's where the plays are made that lead to goals...

Posted by: RedLitYogi | February 9, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Also it appears Toronto or someone else might be getting ready to make another trade. Business is about to pick up...not in DC of course though.

Posted by: ThePat | February 9, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1 - I wasn't talking to you, if I was, I would have directed comments to you

Posted by: DaleHunter | February 9, 2011 1:21 PM | Report abuse

the whole idea behind getting a "serious" 2nd line pivot is to gain time and space for Sasha Minor, making the 2nd line a real and viable threat to score beaucoup goals and thus drawing some focus away from the top line and by extension creating some extra time & space for them too.
------------

in theory that makes sense.

But its all dependent upon the chemistry Semin will have with the new center. Our Sasha can be very particular sometimes. His efforts playing with Fedorov was a dramatic improvement compared to past efforts. And Feds was on his last legs, he didn't have much left to give. Semin just played harder with Fedorov next to him because he felt "comfortable".

I don't know that you plug in an Arnott (ugh) next to Semin and suddenly we have a great 2nd line.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 9, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

"Also it appears Toronto or someone else might be getting ready to make another trade. Business is about to pick up...not in DC of course though."

I'm sure there is a softie out there that George will trade for once everyone good already gone.

Posted by: StanleyCap | February 9, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse

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