Since Bruce Boudreau took over behind the Caps bench in 2007, the coach has almost exclusively used right-handed shooting Alexander Semin as a right wing, despite the fact that he grew up playing the left side. 

In tonight’s preseason game against Columbus, Boudreau said he plans to play Semin as the left wing on a line centered by Marcus Johansson. Mike Knuble will play right wing.

“It’s something I know he’s really liked,” Boudreau said of Semin, who is listed on the team’s website (and has been for years) as a left wing. “We’re looking for good fits for our hockey club [so] we wanted to try it. We didn’t get a chance to [try it] in the first [exhibition] game that he played.”

I suspect one reason Boudreau liked playing Semin on the right side of the second line in past seasons was so he did not have to wait for Alex Ovechkin, the first-line left wing, to come to the bench for a shift change, just in case the former two-time MVP decided to extend his shift.  But with increased depth among the Caps’ wingers this season, it looks as though Boudreau is not only open to tinkering with his line combinations but the side his wingers play, too.

“The advantage [for Semin] is that when you cut to the middle your stick is always on the forehand,” Boudreau said. “Not everyone can do it. It usually takes a very skilled player to play the off-side and take a pass on your backhand. It’s something to see [his] comfortability.”

Boudreau also hinted that he’ll be juggling lines tonight and that Semin could see a handful (or more) shifts on the right wing, perhaps on another line. So that’s something else to keep an eye on.