Unbeknownst to many hockey fans, a large number of Washington Capitals’ fans see Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin as equals when it comes to pure skill. Heck, you might be surprised as to which Alex would win if players/commentators voted on categories like ‘best wrist shot’ and ‘best hands’ (between Ovechkin and Semin). So if there are people out there willing to say that Semin has more skill than Alex the Great, how come one is revered as the best player in the league, while the other silently scores 35 goals each year? Rob from Storming the Crease explains:
…Semin played as if he was trying out for the Harlem Globetrotters. Every time he got the puck, he would skate around looking for a shot or fancy play instead of trying to pass and be a good teammate. That doesn’t work for any team, let alone for the hardworking Caps.
Now if you have ever watched Alexander Semin play, ‘Every time’ is a little ambiguous as to how often he tries to show-off. ‘9.5 out of 10’ is more like it. Semin is like that kid you played against growing up who knew he was better than everyone else, but instead of racking up loads of goals and passing the puck to wide-open teammates when the double-team came, he would go for the nut-meg, or the toe drag, or the spin-o-rama and end up coughing up a turnover. Caps fans should be holding their collective breaths when this Alex is operating the Power Play from the blue line because you never know what highly conservative pass he will attempt to make.
Here come the comparisons:
Semin tries to do everything himself if he’s playing with anybody except Ovechkin. The reason the second line doesn’t work is because of Semin, who might just be a slightly more skilled version of Miroslav Satan or Maxim Afinogenov. Like his fellow Russians Europeans, Semin can disappear for games on end or dominate at the drop of a hat.
It’s tough to argue against these points if you read between the lines. The first point is hard to prove but one thing is for sure: 8 + 28 = loads of offensive chances. In the second point, I don’t think Rob is arguing that Satan and Afinogenov are close to as good as Semin, based on skill ( a comparison to Thomas Vanek is more accurate anyways). Rather, I think what he means is that all three players notorious for taking days off. Okay, maybe they do and maybe they don’t, but in defense of Sasha, he has had some nagging injuries the past few seasons. ‘Not playing hard’ could easily be mixed up with ‘attempting to play with excruciating pain’.
Rob sums things up by saying:
The bottom line is that, unless Semin has a huge change of heart over the next couple weeks, this will be a problem until he is sent away – which, in my opinion, is the best resolution to dealing with the only offensive player on the roster who doesn’t understand that being selflessness is just as (and maybe more important) than skill in winning the Stanley Cup.
This is Semin’s last year of his contract meaning a few things:
a) He will have his best season yet (for what it’s worth, his stats through eight games multiplied to get an 82-game total would result in career-career highs in the three major offensive categories).
b) George McPhee has a big decision ahead of him (obviously). Is a trade imminent for the 25-year old Russian? The Semin-for-Kovalchuk trade possibility mentioned in the article is not what I have in mind here, but maybe something along the lines of a trade deadline move brining in some experience and toughness to the backline would be more realistic.
Whatever the case may be, there is another ‘Young Gun’ in D.C. looking for a new contract and depending on how the season unfolds and Washington’s salary cap issues, Alex Semin could be the odd man out.