Washington Capitals' most frustrating player

semin.jpgEvery now and then, Pro Hockey Talk will ask for insight from some of the best team bloggers out there. For this feature, we asked a simple question: “Who is your team’s most frustrating player?” Just for fun, I decided to throw my guess in the hat, too.

 

First, here is my guess for the Washington Capitals.

Jose Theodore – I’m sure I could go with Alex Semin, but come on, the guy scored about a billion goals this year. Only Theo could go 0-for-2. The last guy who did it was Ed Belfour, but Beflour was probably hungover. It’s hard to stop two pucks, right?

The Washington Capitals (and the blogger friendliness of Ted Leonsis) helped cultivate some great writers. For their perspective, I asked Becca from the great Japer’s Rink to share her most frustrating player. Make sure to follow her and everyone else at JP, if you somehow haven’t started doing that already.

His nicknames range from The Other Alex to Alex 2.0 to Bongos to … well, a myriad of wholly inappropriate ones we won’t even discuss in this venue. To Caps fans, however, Alexander Semin is most commonly known as Sasha – and he’s probably the most frustrating player we’ve watched here in DC in a long time.

Because it’s never just Sasha. No, his is a name that is always either followed by “what the heck are you doing??” or introduced with “did you see that sick move by”, expletives and forehead-slapping optional after either one.

More on “Sasha” after the jump.


semin2.jpgAlexander Semin is a ridiculously talented player, with a keen ability to slip through defenders, a delicate passing touch, a tricky wrist shot that fools even the best goalies and some of the best hands in hockey. He’s also injury prone, penalty prone and prone to the most ridiculous of mental breaks. There are many who think that Semin is the most talented member of the Caps – and that includes the man with whom he shares a first name – but he is also the most exasperating.

Semin’s offensive skills have never been questioned. He has 37 goals and 39 assists so far this season, a tremendous output for any forward over the course of a year and numbers that put him among the League’s elite. But he’s also only played in 67 games this season and has never played a full campaign without developing some injury or another. Part of what makes him so frustrating is imagining just what those numbers would be if he could play closer to the 82 on the schedule.

And then there are the penalties. It used to be that #28 would simply take penalties all over the place, lazy hooking penalties in the neutral zone or the dreaded diving call that still haunts him to this day, and often several in one game. More recently it’s not the number but the timing – he has a knack for taking penalties at the worst possible time, and often 200 feet from his own net. It’s gotten to the point where we in DC have coined the “Semin Hat Trick” in his honor: two beautiful goals and an offensive zone stick infraction.

Alexander Semin simply has this enigmatic quality about him that confuses fans, baffles the media and drives his coaches downright nutty. He’ll make a beautiful move around four defenders and then turn the puck over without a fight. He’ll score on the simplest of wrist shots then elect to pass when there’s no lane. He’ll kill penalties (and get a shorthanded chance to boot) but find himself on the wrong side of the law at the most inopportune moment.

He is at once an immensely talented and highly confounding player – and it’s what earns Alexander Semin the title of Most Frustrating Ever.

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    The Buzzer: Spezza bounces back after healthy scratch; another injury for Predators

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    Player Of The Night: Jason Spezza, Dallas Stars

    On Monday night the Dallas Star made veteran forward Jason Spezza a healthy scratch as he was mired in a lengthy goal-scoring drought. The Stars wanted to see more from him, and they knew he could provide more.

    When he stepped back into the lineup on Tuesday night against the Detroit Red Wings he did exactly that by scoring a pair of goals in the Stars’ 4-2 win.

    Even though Spezza had been struggling to put points on the board he was still doing an excellent job when it came to driving possession and generating shots, as well as the fact the team was outscoring its opponents when he was on the ice. His ice-time has been cut significantly this season, but he was doing enough to suggest that it was only a matter of time until he got back into the goal column.

    He snapped out of it in a big way on Tuesday.

    Another big injury for Nashville

    The Nashville Predators are already playing without two of their top forwards with Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson sidelined.

    They lost another one on Tuesday night in their 1-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights when Ryan Johanson had to leave the game after taking a high hit from William Carrier.

    Johanson left the game and did not return. There was no penalty called on the play.

    Predators coach Peter Laviolette had no update on Johansen after the game and said they were given an explanation that it was a clean hit.

    The Predators ended up winning the game 1-0 thanks to a goal from Kevin Fiala and 43 saves from Jusse Saros.

    Highlight Of The Night

    Not much in the way of highlight reel plays tonight, but here is a big goal from Vince Dunn to give the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Factoid Of The Night

    A big milestone for New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist as he picks up his 20th win of the season.

    Scores

    New Jersey Devils 4, New York Islanders 1

    New York Rangers 5, Philadelphia Flyers 1

    Dallas Stars 4, Detroit Red Wings 2

    St. Louis Blues 2, Toronto Maple Leafs 1

    Nashville Predators 1, Vegas Golden Knights 0

    San Jose Sharks 3, Arizona Coyotes 2

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    Report: Blackhawks concerned Crawford could miss remainder of season

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    Here is some less than encouraging news for the Chicago Blackhawks.

    According to a report from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun Times on Tuesday night, there is some growing concern within the Blackhawks organization that starting goaltender Corey Crawford could miss the remainder of the season due to experiencing vertigo-like symptoms for the second time in his career.

    Crawford has been sidelined since before Christmas due to an upper-body injury, but the team has been quiet on specifics other than to say publicly that they expect him to return this season.

    Over the past few years Crawford has become one of the NHL’s top goalies and when he has been on the ice this season has been absolutely stellar for the Blackhawks. Given the current state of their defense and the rate that they give up shots he has become one of the team’s most important players and the one that seems to drive their success more than any other.

    [Related: Corey Crawford has become the Blackhawks’ most important player]

    In his absence the team has leaned on Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass. Both have played about as well as could have been expected, but they aren’t Crawford and there is a noticeable drop in play at the position when he is not in there.

    In 26 games this season Crawford is 16-9-2 with a .929 save percentage.

    As of Tuesday night the Blackhawks are on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture, sitting three points back of the Minnesota Wild. They also have the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche sitting between them.

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    Rick Nash snaps out of slump, powers Rangers to huge win

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    The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers are two of the teams in the middle of the free-for-all that is the Eastern Conference playoff race that had five teams separated by just three points heading into Tuesday night.

    Both teams had been rolling in opposite directions over the past week with the Flyers having won four in a row and five of their past six, while the Rangers were riding a three-game losing skid and had lost four out of five.

    Their past two losses coming out of the bye week were especially ugly, losing to the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins (two other teams they are competing with) by a combined score of 12-4.

    Both the Rangers’ and Flyers’ streaks came to an end in their game on Tuesday with the Rangers picking up a huge 5-1 win.

    Rick Nash was the big star for the Rangers on Tuesday with a pair of goals, including a breakaway goal in the first period to tie the game at one after the Rangers gave up an early goal. It was a big performance for Nash because he had been mired in a brutal slump that had seen him go 12 consecutive games without a goal. He also had just one assist during that stretch. That slump has contributed to a down year offensively that has him on track for one of the least productive seasons of his career.

    But he came through in a big way on Tuesday to help give the Rangers two huge points and move them three points ahead of the Flyers. The Flyers still have one game in hand while the two teams will still play three more games the rest of the season.

    The Rangers’ win on Tuesday, combined with the Islanders’ 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils, moves the Rangers back into the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference for the time being.

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    Predators place forward Viktor Arvidsson on injured reserve

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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Nashville Predators have placed forward Viktor Arvidsson on injured reserve with a lower-body injury and recalled forward Frederick Gaudreau from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals.

    The Predators made the move Tuesday afternoon.

    Arvidsson was helped off the ice Monday during practice, and The Tennessean reports he tested himself during Tuesday morning’s skate.

    The forward ranks third on the Predators with 13 goals and fourth with 27 points. The Predators already have Filip Forsberg on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

    Gaudreau has played 18 games with the Predators with three assists. He had 14 points in 21 games with the Admirals this season.

    More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey