The buzz prior to Washington’s 4-3 win against the Coyotes, which snapped a four game losing streak and marked the home team’s second win in eight games, was the fact that Alexander Semin was a healthy scratch for the first time since his rookie season of 2003-04.
Coach Bruce Boudreau sat Semin for an entire game for the first time in his tenure as part of the continued emphasis on accountability and said that he believes everyone on the team is “on alert” that they need to play the right way.
“He’s taken penalties seven games in a row,” Boudreau explained. “At some point you have to be accountable for your errors and I don’t like doing those things to people that are that talented, but everybody’s got to know that everybody’s accountable. It was a tough decision, but it was a decision that I thought that had to be made for the group.”
Semin did not take part in warmups but he was at Verizon Center Monday night, watching the game from a booth in the press box with team officials.
From established veterans to rookies, Boudreau’s decision to scratch Semin was message received by the entire team that ice time, game time and so on will need to be earned and no one’s mistakes can be ignored forever.
“Yeah I think it’s a message,” Cody Eakin said. “You know it could be you at any point. You’ve got to fight for the spot you want to earn and the position you want to play.”
Mike Knuble, the oldest player on the team and an alternate captain, agreed.
“It’s a substantial player, a significant player in our lineup it’s not only a message to him but to other guys in the room,” Knuble said. “If you’re not going to play hard every night, we have that balance. It’s probably a little bit of a luxury Bruce has, he hasn’t had that before, when he’s got to play with guys and he’s gotta . . . live with their ups and downs. When you get under the gun like we’ve been the last little bit — if he’s got guys that are going to work hard for him he’s probably going to go with them.
“I don’t want to make a bigger deal than it is,” Knuble continued. “It’s one game it could have been anybody you know. Guys learn it could be me if I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Alex Ovechkin didn’t go into detail when asked by Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski about Boudreau’s decision to sit the star left winger’s closest friend on the team.
“I was surprised at first but it’s not my decision,” Ovechkin said. “It’s all about coaching. He decided to put him on the bench, so he put him. I don’t want to comment about it.”