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Alexander Semin's second hat trick of the year propels Caps past Lightning

By Katie Carrera

Through the first 16 games of the season, perhaps no player has performed as consistently for the Capitals as Alexander Semin. A team-high 12 goals and 21 points, combined with a savvy ability on the penalty kill and more disciplined play, has helped the winger, often criticized in previous seasons for uneven play, stand out for all the right reasons early in the year.

You can read more about Semin's second hat trick in nine games and a combined 12-point effort by him, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom that led the Capitals in a 6-3 victory over Tampa Bay for their sixth straight win, in my story for this morning's paper.

Michal Neuvirth might not have had the strongest first period, but then again neither did his teammates. The 22-year-old goaltender has exhibited the tendency to improve as a game progresses, though, and the same was true against Tampa Bay. Neuvirth gave up many juicy rebounds, especially early, including one that led to the Lightning's first goal.

But for the most part after that Neuvirth settled down and made sure that Tampa Bay couldn't jump out to a significant lead before Washington got its offense and forecheck on track. He stopped 38 of 41 Lightning shots.

"He's been really good for us," Backstrom said. "We needed it. Hopefully he can continue playing the way he does and we can keep scoring too."

Said Coach Bruce Boudreau: "He does look like, as the more important the game gets, he settles down and buckles down, too. It's like the rest of the team."

On to other notes and quotes from the Capitals win against the Lightning:

--Boudreau said he expects Boyd Gordon, who only played 1:42 after suffering a lower-body injury early in the first period, to be out a week. He wasn't sure when the injury occurred but that it could have been when Gordon collided with Tampa Bay defenseman Matt Smaby on an icing call.

"He said he's had this before, the same type of injury and it's usually a week," Boudreau said. "I don't know when it happened but I think that might be it."

--Another day and another first goal given up by the Caps. This is the 12th time in 16 games that they've allowed an opposing team to score first but they're 9-3 when they do. So while it's obviously a trend Washington would like to discontinue, it's not something that frightens them either. The Capitals have outscored their opponents 17-2 in the second period while on this six-game winning streak.

"They got crap in between periods and they came out," Boudreau said of the change in play at the start of this second period. "We weren't playing properly. When we're getting it in [the offensive zone] and only one man is going it's easy for their D to get it, move it out and we're caught in between. The first 10 minutes of the second period we had two men [forechecking]. We changed some tactics up against their neutral zone and I think we tired at the end of the second period because we were forechecking pretty hard the first half. It's something you get used to."

--David Steckel had a great night in the faceoff circle, winning 20 of 29 draws for the most faceoff victories by a Capital since Jeff Halpern won 21 on Nov. 6, 2005, against Toronto. At the end of the second period he had only lost two of 16.

--In his first game back in the lineup after not suiting up since Oct. 21 because of a groin injury, Tom Poti played 16:43 and scored his first goal of the season to tie the game 1-1 in the second period.

--Matt Bradley got the hard hat tonight. After the game Boudreau said he never got a full explanation from the referees as to why Adam Hall wasn't given an extra penalty for starting a fight with Bradley, after the latter dished out a clean hit on Tampa Bay's Mike Lundin. Both Bradley and Hall received five-minute fighting majors.

"I thought there was distance traveled," Boudreau said. "He traveled a long ways and I guess the thing that didn't make it [an extra penalty] is Brads saw him coming and was ready for it, but it was because the guy traveled so far. I don't know if it's an instigator; I just thought it was a clean hit and a good hit and a guy didn't get hurt and whatever. That this guy came and started the fight, just give him an extra two or something I thought would have been the right call."

--Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavalier suffered a non-displaced fracture in his right hand in the first period against the Capitals. He's expected to miss a minimum of three weeks, Lightning Coach Guy Boucher said.--A well-deserved congratulations to Capitals radio play-by-play man Steve Kolbe, who called his 1,000th NHL game Thursday night.

--The Capitals return to the ice tomorrow at 11 a.m. for an optional skate before heading to Buffalo.

By Katie Carrera  | November 12, 2010; 12:32 AM ET
Categories:  Alexander Semin, Boyd Gordon, David Steckel, Injuries, Matt Bradley, Tampa Bay Lightning  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Open thread: Capitals vs. Lightning
Next: Mike Knuble's sneaky goal

Comments

@alexander Semin

Where was this effort the past three years in the playoffs ?

Guess a contract that puts you near Ovi is more important than a cUp.

Kolzig said his last year here that Semin was more talented that Ovi. I guess that shows how important "guts and heart" are.

I've watched Semin's act for so long that I'm really thinking about what we can get for him as oppossed to keeping him.

We need playoff butt kickers, not "I want a new lenghty contract", Thursday night, against an over -rated Bolts team, folded in the Olympics too, I won't be doing this against the Flyers in the spring, Russian
(who still hasn't learned our language).

Yea, I'm happy for him. I'm sad for all the Caps fans who sat through game 7 losses at home that Semin could have changed with a better effort !!!!!!!

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 12, 2010 1:14 AM | Report abuse

Semin looked great. I've seen all kinds of championship teams in my day and he looks just like the exact kinda player for third or fourth wheel on a champion.

Just like Juri Kurri back on the Oil.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 12, 2010 1:14 AM | Report abuse

@tominmudslideCali

Contain yourself. Some other poster actually called Sasha "a beast". It's November hockey. The true "beasts" are just getting their skates laced.

Cstanton are you alive out there ??????????????

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 12, 2010 1:22 AM | Report abuse

"I'm sad for all the Caps fans who sat through game 7 losses at home that Semin could have changed with a better effort !!!!!!!"

Lol.

Posted by: capscapscaps2 | November 12, 2010 1:23 AM | Report abuse

Huntsy: I gave you a long, detailed response on the other thread. You are a Dark Sider. Some are Kool-Aid drinkers. As I explained, I refuse to get caught in the debate and insist, above all else, that I see all points of view and try and average them out for what I expect to happen.

You however are refusing yourself the joy of watching Semin play in an incredible style.

I have been watching him since 02 or 03 and have never seen him play this well, this complete.

I can tell you if you saw my contract predictions for Caps players this offseason I was like within $100K on Backie, Schultz, Fehr, Flash combined. My updated Semin number after tonight (all right, quit it, after "last night" for you all) is he is worth 6.5 bottom, 7.5 top. Yes, I think the Caps will sign him. No, I don't think his play has anything to do with contract. Yes, I think he'll get multi-years but only five.

After tonight, I will put five years, $33M. That's my current over/under and, yes, he's worth the money. Every penny.

Anyone who wants to doubt me put up comp players and how much. I think he's worth more than Gaborik and Kovalchuk but then again I think both are overpaid. Lamiorello is an idiot in his old age for singing Kovalchuk. I said it all last year Kovalchuk was never worth the money Atlanta put out. Kovy is a bum and I'd never want him on my team. A bum. There you have it. There are people in all walks of life, talented, but bums. Kovalchuk is one of them. Mark my words NJ will suffer forever due to that contract. Disagree, fine, I will respect.

A bum. B-U-M. Bum. As in...OVERPAID. He-he.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 12, 2010 1:34 AM | Report abuse

Not sure when some of you fools expect him to play well?
If not now then when.
Why criticize him for doing something now instead of 'the past 3 years'?
Is there a time machine you fools frequently use or something?

Posted by: Rocc00 | November 12, 2010 1:54 AM | Report abuse

@Rocc00

The time machine is 35 years of being the "Cubs". Semin did not score one goal against the Habs. He was wipping "hail Mary" shots at Halak from 35 feet out. As Alan May pointed out after game 7, "There was really no second effort by Semin on any of his shots".

Semin also needed to show up "big" two years ago when he dissed Syd. The Pens kicked our rears again (time machine -AGAIN).Semin was a nonfactor in that Pens series. After what he said, he needed to "hat trick" the Pens. We looked liked big mouthed Euro-trash after the way that seies came down.

Trade this guy for D-men, and we might get a cUp !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 12, 2010 2:10 AM | Report abuse

PRESIDENT CALLS FOR UNITY

Wasington (AP) Nov 12, 2010.

President Barack Obama today called for unity among all Americans in the struggle to get Alexander Semin signed to a long-term contract.

"I understand," the chief executive began, "that we have differing points of view in this country. But," he added, "in this time of economic uncertainty, we must come together, not as Dark Siders and Kool-Aid drinkers, but as Americans and Caps fans."

Opinion was divided across Washington. Rep. John Boehner, expected to become the Speaker of the House in the new Congress, wondered whether America could "afford what Semin was worth" and questioned if the next generation of Americans should have to pay for today's Semin. Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi, outgoing Speaker, claimed that Semin was "better on defense than the Republicans" and could "score more than Linday Lohan on a holiday weekend."

In a related story, Conan O'Brien said that Semin was "funnier than Jay Leno, even if he (Semin) can't speak a word of English."

Attempts to contact NBC for response went unanswered.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 12, 2010 2:22 AM | Report abuse

@Barach

Trade me Semin for your Chicago Duncan Keith and I'll show you some unity baby.

Nancy could probaly put togeather a more productive (meaner, more fiesty) playoff hockey team than GMGM.

Pelosi could probably take down Schultz, Semin, sSteckle, and Flush in a cage match.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 12, 2010 2:50 AM | Report abuse

Hunts - your inferiority complex is showing.
I guess some people here are Americants & xenophobic at the same time.

The play is over (those series too) time to look forward to this spring.
Looks like a good year of playing 21st century hockey & not dump & chase 80's-90's Caps style.

Rather be best of the best or best of the worse.
No winners except the Cup holders.You get it?

Posted by: Rocc00 | November 12, 2010 2:54 AM | Report abuse

Semin looked like a lot of other Caps in the playoffs last year. A few played well, but none of our top guys shined.

This year, from the start, Semin has been our best forward. I was at VC last night, and on one of TB's power plays Sasha came out on the third shift, and I said to my seatmates, just watch what Semin does here, he'll strip it and take it down for a shot, and damned if that's not exactly what he did. Strong shot, too.

Semin has been tough (did you see him throw a punch in a goal mouth scrum in the home opener?), he's landed a few hits, though not a ton, but he's been rugged. Biggest change, he's been a possession guy, starting to hold the puck almost as good as Backstrom along the boards, dangling the puck as he wards off one or two defenders. His PK work and D -- simply awesome. His steals are unreal, but what's best is what he's doing with the puck after. And I haven't even mentioned his shot.

This is a guy I want on our team in the playoffs. Look at our top line, with or without Knuble, and no one else is playing the game Semin is. On all ends of the ice, Semin is the man.

Posted by: Justafan | November 12, 2010 5:43 AM | Report abuse

gmgm needs to sign semin on 01/01/11. right then. right there. happy new year- here's your contract.

Posted by: 33spinner | November 12, 2010 6:47 AM | Report abuse

hunterforcoach: What is your deal with Semin? You want Duncan Keith? Have you watched the Blackhawks this year? Keith is playing like crap and has a HUGE contract.

Nobody that loves to hate the Caps wants to give BB and his staff credit for the change in the way the Caps play this year defensively, especially Green and Semin. Semin was an unbelievable forechecker last year and has now improved in the defensive zone because it is the focus of the staff for this entire team. I cannot believe that so many of you want to say that Semin is playing like this because it is a contract year. The defensive part of his game is the result of work in practice and philosophy of this coaching staff and he scored 40 friggin' goals and had 84 points last year, a non-contract year.

Semin is one of the most talented guys in the league, one of the best in his chosen profession. Can you say that about your performance at work Hunterforcoach?

BTW, Semin regularly talks with team mates on the bench. Hmm, has Backstrom learned Russian, or has Semin learned Swedish? Oh wait, they are probably conversing in English. You see, the reason I think the Capitals with get Semin to stay for a relatively inexpensive pricetag is because he is not expected to face the media in Washington. If he goes to another team and gets $8mil+, like other guys that score at his pace is because in that new city he WILL be expected to address the media. He has a level of comfort here that he will not experience if he moves to another NHL city. I am in the camp that believes if he doesn't stay in Washington he will be done in the NHL. He can make TONS of money in Russia and won't have the fear of being misquoted because of his English.

Posted by: fanohock1 | November 12, 2010 6:57 AM | Report abuse

I'm with Hunterforcoach. Let's get rid of both Semin and Green for the way they have played in the past. Who cares how well they have adjusted and performed this year. Let's also ditch Nicky. I heard that when he played pee wee hockey, he got hit with a puck and cried. He obviously lacks the toughness needed to succeed in the NHL.

Posted by: AADCDERM | November 12, 2010 7:22 AM | Report abuse

I truly hope we can sign Semin for a 3-5 year contract, but I doubt we will get him for less than 6mil...anything less would probably be criminal. He is important to this team not only because of his talent, but he forces other teams to spread out their coverage from just Ovie and the first line to the 2nd line as well.

@Hunterforcoach

I get the whole...this is a contract year and thats why he is playing well bit, but I just don't buy it...he seems to slowly becoming more happy in America/DC, and maybe he is just realizing that he doesn't want to leave. I doubt he would be very happy on another team, so he is doing all he can to earn a solid new contract here.

And he played ok in the playoffs...no worse than Green, Flash, Laich, and 3/4 of the team.

Posted by: capscoach | November 12, 2010 7:25 AM | Report abuse

I would also enjoy hearing more reflections of how things were in the good old hockey days. Let's hear the stories (for the 5000th time) about how everyone had front row seats at the Capital Center for $20, how all the old Caps players were great and tough and went out drinking with the fans after games. Then, bitterly complain about the prices of tickets and beer today, how the players today have no heart, and that all of the front office is incompetent.

Sorry for the rant but I get a little sick of the glory days posters and fans. Can't we just enjoy our 2010 team and have a good time at the games?

Posted by: AADCDERM | November 12, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Not only was Semin a beast, yes beast, so was Backis. His anti-backis 19 of the Bolts got served and served again -- big atta boy. He had 4 assists, I believe. When Backis gets back on track, watch out NHL, that top line will be the best in the whole league with either Semin or Knubs, who is also getting back on track. Who knew goat blood was so useful?

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | November 12, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

@JIMALLCAPS2 |

Tominsocal knew of the nutritional benefits of goats blood! Guess I should listen to him more :)

Posted by: capscoach | November 12, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

"Through the first 16 games of the season, perhaps no player has performed as consistently for the Capitals as Alexander Semin."

This is one sentence I never expected to read prior to this current streak, even though I knew Semin was fully capable of playing in a way to justify this sort of statement.

Posted by: 1995hoo | November 12, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Anyone scared that with Boyd out we will lose to Buffalo? That would be pretty embaressing after a 6 game win stretch in which we saw Boston, NYR, and TB! Maybe we should just dress our little good luck charm anyway and only play him for 2 minutes!

Posted by: capscoach | November 12, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Hunter for Coach,
Sometimes I agree with your opinions but I will say you are just wrong. We must have been watching a different Montreal series because Semin worked his tail off. No support from his linemates. His stats have continued to improve over the last three seasons and his play is getting better. Give the guy a break. Lets all stop talking about last years playoffs while we are at. New year and all.

Posted by: pkme | November 12, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

How fast is Jason Chimera? Really fast.

Posted by: kevin91491 | November 12, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

@Kevin

we can ice the puck all day when Chimera is on the ice...thats how fast he is!

Posted by: capscoach | November 12, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Breaking news from the Glenn Beck University....New course offering: "Capitals Conspiracy Theory". In a new twist on communist subversion, Alexander Semin, the great Russian spy, infiltrates the Washington Capitals and converts players to his political views by playing like a maniac in the 2010/2011 season.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | November 12, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Kevin

Good point. A lot of posters here do not like Chimera but in my humble opinion, a team like the caps needs a player like Chimera. His speed is phenominal. I know he may not be much of a finisher, but he altered the course of play more than a few times last night and I've seen him do this a lot this season.

A good all around game for all last night...some negatives (Neuvirths rebounds) but so many positives. A nice point made to the SE div. last night.

And Hunter - get the old Sherwood out of your backside. The splinters alone must be so annoying.

Posted by: jeets | November 12, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I'm in a slight wait and see mode regarding Semin. Right now there is no way you can trade him, he has been the Cap's best player so far this season, but at the same time I wouldn't give a long-term contract just yet. If he plays this well for the next quarter of the season, and doesn't revert back to the enigma by taking four or five games off and comitting a ton of silly stick penalties, then sign him.
That being said, I think we are starting to finally see the real Semin. The guy who Olie said he was. I'm not sure why it has taken this long, but I'm enjoying it.

Posted by: beargibson | November 12, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Chimera is fast but when his line is on the ice if you have a vantage point like I do you realize that Chimi isn't just beating the opponent to get an icing call washed out. It is a set play. When a Capital gains full control of the puck in our zone, especially deep in our zone, below the goal line, you will see the player rip the puck up the ice and think dang it, icing again. However, if you see Chimi, he is already taking off as the player gains control and is making a bee line to the O-zone. The Caps staff is brilliantly using Chimi's speed. That is brilliant because Chimi is on the line that typically has the job of shutting down the opponents top line. What better way to alleviate pressure than to have a set "icing" play.

Posted by: fanohock1 | November 12, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Everybody expects every player on the Caps to be Gretzky. There has to be role players and not everyone can be a superstar. What the heck is wrong with Chimera. he back checks, skates his butt off, plays defense, hits and is gritty. I will admit if he could shoot he would be better that OVI.

Posted by: pkme | November 12, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

@fanhock

Chimi has also been able to stop a few potential breakaways for the opposition with that speed. I only wish he would work on his shot so that when he gets a breakaway he actually stands a chance to score.

Posted by: capscoach | November 12, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Semin's early season efforts can be summed up in two words: CONTRACT YEAR!

Posted by: Bog_Reader | November 12, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Semin's early season efforts can be summed up in two words: CONTRACT YEAR!

Posted by: Bog_Reader


thats a bit short sighted don't u think? He has been getting progressively better for the past 3-4 seasons...he has gone from the kid who gets 2 offensive zone penalties a game, can't play D, and never lived up to his potential, to a 40 goal scorer who is now fighting every shift and seems to have a genuinely better attitude...the only thing that I think may be motivating him is that he doesn't want to leave DC for another NHL team, and if he becomes a major headcase again, the Caps will not want to sign him. If he continues to play like this I think we sign him 4-5yrs for 6 mil.

Posted by: capscoach | November 12, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I don't buy the contract year theory for Semin's play, he's gonna get the money whether it is in DC, another NHL city or the KHL. IMO he is actually maturing into an all around player and his confidence is higher than it has ever been.

While folks are throwing kudos out, lets give a shout to GMGM and BB for inviting Hendricks to camp and giving him a chance. He has played his role very well so far.

Posted by: ds_kelly | November 12, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Anyone really think we can sign a 50-goal scorer for less than $7M per. There's probably a few teams out there that have cap space to pay more. I think Semin likes playing with Ovi and probably wouldn't be too happy going to a town with no Russians.

He's a fabulous player. I hope we can sign him to a long termer.

Posted by: rjma1 | November 12, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Well, luckily for the Caps Semin not only likes playing with Ovechkin, he also likes winning. And a number of the other contending clubs have awful cap situations heading into next year.

The Caps have room for a new contract for Semin and that is before we consider whether they are going to bring guys like Mike Knuble back again.

If the Caps do resign Semin, I think you will see both Knuble and Fleischmann depart.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | November 12, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

The Caps and Leonsis from a management know how to treat their employees and make coming to work a good thing. I think Backstrom could have gotten a bigger contract somewhere else. He chose to seal his future here. I think Semin will want to stay also. five year contract worth 43

Posted by: pkme | November 12, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

RE: Semin, who still hasn't learned our language.

Alex speaks English very well but...he is VERY shy. Have you, "HunterforCoach", ever actually tried speaking to him, or are you, like a few other boardies gonna take the media's stand that he is "not available"?

I've had the opportunity to interact with him on several occasions and he's a GREAT guy, very funny and once he is familar with someone he will speak.

As far as it being a contract year, good! If it is getting the results we need now and is helping us win the games, then so be it.

We are a month and a half into the season, let's just enjoy the ride and and se what they come up with. We all know the team we see now will hafto make some tweaks and changes come the post season. There is no reason to beat a dead horse about it now.

I am not claiming to be an expert on hockey, as there is alot I don't understand, but I am a fan of the game and I LOVE MY CAPS. Regardless of wins or losses, frustrations and celebrations, they are still my team.

If the play/style/coaching/management of this team is really that annoying to some of you, then stop buying the tickets, don't support them and then PLEASE go find another team that doesn't have issues.

I bet you can't!

Posted by: hipichik71 | November 12, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I don't see the point in trashing this year's Caps because they didn't win last year's Stanley Cup. The Cup may be the Holy Grail but the "best" team usually doesn't win it, and in recent years the team that does (viz. Carolina, Tampa Bay, even Pittsburgh) is more likely to be a fluke than a dynasty. Enjoy the regular season and our exciting team. There's time enough for playoff angst when the playoffs come.

Posted by: IrishBear | November 12, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

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