It hasn’t been the easiest 13 games to start 2011-12 for Alexander Semin. He’s recorded three goals and eight points, but leads the team with nine minor penalties — a trend that Coach Bruce Boudreau said “can’t be done” earlier in the week.
“Last year I started really well and then the whole thing went [bad],” Semin said. “I’m hoping maybe the bad part of the season is over for this season and the good part is just about to begin.”
The constant knock on Semin throughout his career is the 27-year-old’s penchant for taking penalties, particularly untimely stick penalties. In Washington’s 5-2 loss to Dallas on Tuesday, Semin scored his first goal in eight games but also took a pair of tripping minors that prompted Boudreau to take away his ice time late in the contest.
“I’m really not sure what’s going on with penalties,” Semin said. “I’m kind of puzzled myself. I don’t know for sure if all of those penalties were really penalties or not, but it is what it is and I’m just going to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Last season, Semin led Washington with 27 minors (71 penalty minutes) and in 2009-10 he had a team-highest 33 minors (66 penalty minutes).
This year in addition to leading the Capitals in minor penalties, Semin is tied for the team lead in penalty minutes (18) with Matt Hendricks. At this stage of his career, Semin likely doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt from referees making any infraction, regardless of severity, a focus for officials.
Despite Semin’s offensive struggles and the number of penalties notwithstanding, Boudreau has largely been complimentary of the talented forward. He’s praised Semin’s increased work-ethic and effort, and earlier in the week Boudreau said “I like the way he’s trending.”
“The coach has told me that aside from scoring he has been happy with my game this year, especially with the way I’ve played on the defense,” Semin said. “Scoring is just one component of my game and hopefully it will return.”
As for what he makes of all the talk of accountability throughout the Capitals’ organization over the past several months, Semin said that the important thing for the team to do is go out and play.
“Actually, I think thinking about all this stuff may actually be counterproductive. We know how to play hockey,” Semin said. “We just need to get out there and play and do what we know how to do and things will be working out all right. If you start thinking about all this stuff too much, it can actually be counterproductive.”