Washington Capitals Player Report Card: Alex Semin

Alex Semin

Stats: GP 28, Goals 28, Assists 26, Points 54, +/- 22, PIM 71

Player Card

Scoring Chance Rank: 2/29
Forwards: 2/19
Balance Corsi Rank: 4/29
Forwards: 4/19

Alex Semin has had the reputation of being a streaky player ever since arriving in Washington. Caps fans never know which version of him they will get on a given night; either the “Good Sasha” who plays hard and showcases his enormous amount of offensive talent or the “Bad Sasha” who takes bad offensive zone penalties, glides back to the bench for line-changes and generally plays lazy. This season, the Caps got a lot of both Good and Bad Sasha and it seemed to come in bunches.

During the first two months of the season, it looked like Semin had finally figured things out and was becoming more of a complete player. He had 18 goals and 30 points at the end of November along with three hat tricks and even taking responsibilities on the penalty kill. Then December came and he proceeded to go the entire month without a goal, missed most of January with an injury, and then netted a hat-trick against Anaheim on February 16th which was the first time he scored in nearly three months. Like I said, everything comes in bunches with him and it’s not always a good thing. After getting off to such a strong start, many thought that Semin would lead the team in goals and set a career high in goals by the end of the season. He finished with only 28 goals, which isn’t bad but it is for someone who scored 40 the previous season and had 18 of those 28 goals in the first two months of the season.

Despite the scoring drought, you can not deny that this team was missing a lot while he was injured. The team was struggling to score more than three goals a game while he was out and they were shutout four times. There was also a huge void on the second line that Boudreau had to grasp at straws to fill.¬† When Semin goes through one of his slumps, it’s easy to forget that he led the Caps in scoring chacne percentage among those who were on the team the entire year. He also only trailed Nicklas Backstrom in balanced corsi, showing that the team was a lot better offensively when he was in the lineup. While the stats say that he played with weaker teammates than previous seasons, he actually spent more time on the first line than anything this year. You can make a case that what he had as his second line center before Arnott arrived were weak, though. The team was missing his scoring and creativity while he was injured, but they were missing it for most of December, as well…..when he was healthy. One other category Semin led the team in? Penalties taken. 1.5 per 60 minutes. Ouch.

Something that’s also easy to forget is that the Caps never lost in regulation whenever Sasha scored, but the folks at Russian Machine Never Breaks looked into that a little further to see how much Semin’s goals really contributed to the team winning. As it turned out, it wasn’t much as Semins scored a lot when the team was already ahead or trailing.

The thing Semin is criticized the most for is his playoff performances and he somewhat shook off that reputation this year. He had that huge game-winning goal against the Rangers and scored in three consecutive games but there were definitely plenty of “Bad Sasha” moments to go around. Mainly in the last three games of the Tampa series where he only had six shots on goal total in those games. Your best players have to be your best in the playoffs and Semin was…but only in a few games.

Like Ovechkin (and every other player), I’m going to be grading based on expectation and considering that Semin is making $6 mil this season, I think it’s fair to expect at least 30 goals from him. He just missed that mark, but of course, you have to consider that he was injured for about a month. Just like you have to consider that he didn’t score a goal for an entire month, too. Most of the stats I presented show how important he is to this team, which makes it even worse when he goes into one of his slumps and how much it hurts the team. George McPhee elected to keep Semin around for at least one more year at $6.7 mil which seems like a lot but it is better to have him signed to that for one year rather than a multi-year deal. You could view this as his “last chance” but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see him stick around. I am going to give him a C+ for the year. The Semin of the first two months was nice to have but unfortunately, he didn’t stick around for that long. We know that he has the talent and ability to live up to his expectations and he does that…sometimes. That’s the problem.


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