Before the Capitals lost, 5-2, to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night, Coach Bruce Boudreau said he liked the way winger Alexander Semin was “trending.” But over the course of the evening’s contest, Semin demonstrated both his positive and negative traits that can frustrate any viewer, or coach.
Semin recorded a beauty of a power-play goal, a one-timer that was set up by Nicklas Backstrom in the first period against the Stars. It was Semin’s first goal in eight games and second point in the past six.
But that positive note dimmed as Semin took two minor penalties, both tripping calls, increasing his team-high totals in that category to nine minors in 13 games.
“Well, you address it by taking ice time away,” Boudreau said. “Alex Semin got two shifts after the second penalty, both on power plays. As hard as he worked in the first period, too, and scored a goal and everything else. But he can’t be leading our team in penalties with nine minors in 13 games.
“It can’t be done,” Boudreau said. “So he’s got to move his legs to not take those penalties.”
Semin actually took three shifts in the final 13 minutes and 58 seconds of regulation, after serving his second penalty, but Boudreau’s message is easily understood. He kept one of Washington’s most high-paid offensive talents on the bench – Semin’s shifts after the second tripping call included two on the power play and one at even strength.
The 27-year-old winger finished with 15:42 of ice time in the game but he’s played less than that twice already, against Detroit and Pittsburgh, this season.
Given Boudreau’s message to Semin and the coach’s strong words about the unacceptable number of penalties, it’s hard not to wonder whether the Russian winger could be a candidate to sit out a game.
With 13 healthy forwards, Boudreau has made three different players — Jeff Halpern, Mathieu Perreault and Cody Eakin — a healthy scratch over the past four games, but they’ve all been role players not a regular top-six forward.