On Monday, Alexander Semin made his second appearance in a preseason game and was what Coach Bruce Boudreau deemed “still rusty,” adding that the winger would get plenty of time in the three remaining exhibition contests.
One of Semin’s bad habits was also on display in the 3-1 win over the Blue Jackets as he committed a pair of offensive-zone stick penalties – one of which negated a power play, the other coming late in regulation. When asked about the infractions, though, Boudreau went out of his way to defend Semin, who has been in the spotlight ever since former teammate Matt Bradley criticized the Russian sniper’s attitude in August.
“He does a lot of good things,” Boudreau said. “We so much dwell on Alex’s negative things. We talk about it and he’s correcting it and he feels bad about it.
“I’ll bet none of you [reporters] looked at how hard he backchecked every time he was on the ice,” Boudreau continued. “He did so many good things and he’s so skilled. He wants to go right at the hands [of an opponent]. Instead of lifting the stick he just touches the hands and he can get the puck. It’s right on the border of right and wrong, and he gets caught.”
Last season, Semin was tied for the team lead in minor penalties (27) and had 71 penalty minutes. In 2009-10 he was first on the team with 33 minor penalties and had 66 penalty minutes, and in 2008-09 he was fourth on the club with 31 minors to go with 77 penalty minutes.
Whether Semin can lower his penalty minutes remains to be seen, but count Boudreau among those who believe the winger is more determined in his approach to this season.
“He’s come, more than anybody that I’ve seen on this team, committed to doing what’s right,” Boudreau said. “Every practice he’s worked hard, every game he’s tried hard. I’ve been really pleased with him.”