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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    Bruins will be ‘aggressive’ in pursuit of puck-mover

    Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney answers a question as coach Claude Julien sits next to him at during Boston Bruins media day, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015 in Boston. (John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via AP)  BOSTON HERALD OUT, QUINCY OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
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    The Boston Bruins are going to be aggressive in their pursuit of a “transitional” defenseman this offseason.

    GM Don Sweeney understands it won’t be easy, given all the other teams that will be looking for the exact same thing, but he plans to pursue a puck-mover “either through free agency or through acquisitions.”

    “It’s a matter of finding a trading partner or finding a match in the marketplace,” Sweeney said today on a conference call. “But we’re going to be aggressive.”

    The Bruins already have four defenseman under contract for next season: Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller, the latter of whom just signed a four-year, $10 million extension.

    In addition to those four, Sweeney said he expects to get restricted free agent Torey Krug signed. Like Krug, Colin Miller and Joe Morrow are also RFAs.

    That makes seven defensemen under club control. Given his desire to add at least one more, Sweeney was asked about trading either Seidenberg or McQuaid, to which he responded, “I’ll explore whatever I have to, in every way, shape and form to improve our club and find the balance we need.”

    So expect another busy offseason in Boston. The Bruins have made no secret their intention to upgrade the blue line. As we wrote a month ago, expect the likes of Jacob Trouba, Matt Dumba, Sami Vatanen, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Tyson Barrie to be targeted, should any of those players become available via trade.

    If it’s unrestricted free agency that Sweeney opts for, the list of potential targets includes Keith Yandle, Brian Campbell, Alex Goligoski, Dan Hamhuis, Jason Demers, and Kris Russell.

    Related: Seidenberg doesn’t want to think about waiving no-trade

    Canucks assistant Gulutzan interviewed for Flames gig

    Glen Gulutzan, Willie Desjardins, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows, Linden Vey
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    Add another list to Flames GM Brad Treliving’s coaching search list:

    Glen Gulutzan.

    Gulutzan, the former Dallas bench boss that’s been an assistant in Vancouver for the last three seasons, was permitted to speak with Treliving about the club’s vacant head coaching gig, per The Province.

    “They asked for permission and have talked to [Gulutzan],” Canucks GM Jim Benning confirmed. “If he doesn’t get the job, we like Glen and he’s going to be back with our group.”

    Gulutzan and Treliving do have a connection. Earlier this month, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman pointed out that both played their junior hockey in WHL Brandon, and was “told not to be surprised” if Gulutzan received an interview.

    Treliving is searching hard for a replacement for Bob Hartley. Yesterday, the Calgary Sun wrote he kept busy with the coaching search while leading Canada to gold at the recently completed World Hockey Championship.

    Earlier reports claimed Treliving spoke to ex-Wild bench boss Mike Yeo about the gig.

    From a Vancouver perspective, the Gulutzan interview could have a domino effect. The Province also points out that Calgary didn’t ask permission to speak with Travis Green, the Canucks’ well-respect bench boss in AHL Utica.

    Green has said he thinks he’s ready to take an NHL job, and earlier reports claimed he was in the running for Anaheim’s vacant head coaching gig.

    Tarasenko needs to start ‘playing within the system’: Hitch

    SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 19:  Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues and Marc-Edouard Vlasic #44 of the San Jose Sharks fight for control of the puck in game three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 19, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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    Is it all Vladimir Tarasenko‘s fault that the St. Louis Blues are on the brink of elimination?

    No, of course it’s not.

    It seems we have to clarify this every time a star player comes under fire for not producing. Hockey is a team game, and the Blues — as a team — have not been as good as the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final.

    Still, it was interesting to hear St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock talk about Tarasenko yesterday, because the criticism was pointed, even if it was delivered in an empathetic manner.

    “What happens with goal-scorers when they get frustrated is they look to hit home runs. We need him just to act like a worker,” said Hitchcock.

    “What he’s doing is he’s looking to try to catch fast breaks, he’s looking to catch the other team napping. But when you play against guys like [Marc-Edouard Vlasic], you’re not going to catch him napping. He’s just got to feel comfortable playing within the system, playing within the framework.”

    Hitchcock added, “I think it’s a natural tendency with younger players who have this heightened sense of urgency to do what they do well, which for him is score goals. He’s gotten too far away from the play. He’s got himself too stretched out. We just need him to come back to the puck a little bit more.”

    As we noted yesterday, Tarasenko has been held pointless in five games against the Sharks. In his last three games combined, he’s managed just four shots total. This from a guy who scored 40 of the Blues’ 224 goals during the regular season, then put up 13 points (7G, 6A) in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

    We’ll see tonight if the “hard lessons” continue for the 24-year-old, or if he can find a way to help get his team back to St. Louis for Game 7.

    Video: Johnson pays the price for Tampa Bay

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    It’s been another successful spring for Tyler Johnson.

    Johnson, the most diminutive member of Tampa Bay’s vaunted “Triplets” line, is racking up the playoff points yet again. He has 17 through 16 games — tied with Joe Thornton for sixth-most in the postseason — and, depending on how far the Bolts go this year, could best last year’s total, when he had 23 in 24.

    Not bad, considering the physical pounding Johnson has taken.

    At just 5-foot-9 and 182 pounds, the playoff grind has certainly taken its toll over the last two years. Johnson was rendered all but ineffective in last year’s Cup Final versus Chicago due to a broken right wrist and, this year, dealt with an upper-body injury in the opening round and a puck to the face just prior to Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final.

    Not that it slowed him down any.

    Johnson scored the game-winning OT tally in Game 4, getting his body in front of a Jason Garrison shot to deflect home past Marc-Andre Fleury. That earned high praise from Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, who heaped superlatives on his undersized star.

    “He’s a winner — that’s what winners do,” coach Jon Cooper said of Johnson, per the Tampa Bay Times. “They don’t back down. And when there’s a challenge ahead of you, you’ve got to find a way to meet the challenge. There’s a lot of coaches that had a front row seat to see how this kid plays and how he competes.

    “And it’s not always the size of the player, it’s the size of the heart, and that’s Tyler Johnson.”