For the second straight day, Alexander Semin practiced as a member of the fourth line and at this point it certainly appears possible that he may start Game 2 there on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
Coach Dale Hunter says Semin, who happens to be Washington’s leading scorer in these playoffs, is healthy.
So while the coach insists he’s just “switching lines around” it sure looks like he’s sending a message to Semin that the Capitals need the disciplined, committed player they saw in the first round — not the version who took a pair of careless penalties in Game 1 against the Rangers.
“Yeah, I think he knows. Alex, he’s not a guy – he’s not a rookie,” Alex Ovechkin said. “He knows that he can’t take that penalty, can’t take that kind of penalty that he take in the first [of Game 1]. Of course, he takes a penalty, of course everybody thinks, ‘Jeez, why I have to do that?’
“You feel bad for your penalty guys to kill the penalty while you sit on the benches,” Ovechkin continued. “You’re like, ‘Please don’t score a goal.’ It’s not a good feeling.”
A change in practice lines doesn’t always remain for a game, though. There have been times over the course of the season where Semin has been knocked out of the top six forwards in practice, but he returns to his usual spot on the top two lines by the start of the game or within the first period.
So if he is demoted to the fourth line for puck drop tonight, keep an eye on him to see how long he stays there.
“He’ll go out and work hard,” Hunter said when asked what he wants to see from Semin going forward. “We need him to score goals for us, we need him to play good on the power play. He’ll go out and work.”
In other news, Jeff Schultz will be back in the lineup, Hunter confirmed. That likely means John Erskine, who suited up for Game 1, and Dmitry Orlov will be out.
“He’s a big guy, got a good reach and he’s played well defensively,” Hunter said when asked about putting Schultz back in the mix.
This will mark the fifth postseason game for Schultz, who played in Games 1, 2, 3 and 7 against the Bruins. Schultz said being bounced in and out of the lineup hasn’t caused any major problems for him.
He’s also quite familiar with the Rangers, having appeared in playoff series against them in 2009 and 2011. Unlike the Bruins, Schultz said, New York poses more of a long-range threat as it will aim for stretch plays to create odd-man situations or breakaways.
“They like to go for those home run plays every now and then,” Schultz said. “It’s just keeping your head on a swivel and knowing who’s on the ice.”
— Based on line rushes, here’s what the lineup could look like tonight; more to come on the possibility of Alex Ovechkin playing on the right side.
Perreault, Halpern and Sjogren working as extras