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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    Modano, Ciccarelli, Roenick and Savard highlight Minnesota-Chicago alumni rosters

    Mike Modano
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    There’ll be no shortage of star power on display on Feb. 20, when alumni from the Wild, Blackhawks and North Stars do battle at TCF Bank Stadium.

    On Tuesday, the NHL unveiled the rosters for the Stadium Series outdoor game — one day prior to the tilt between Chicago and Minnesota, a slew of ex-NHLers will compete for bragging rights, including Mike Modano, Dino Ciccarelli, Chris Chelios, Jeremy Roenick and Denis Savard, to name a few.

    The full rosters:

    North Stars/Wild

    Fred Barrett, Don Beaupre, Brian Bellows, Brad Bombardir, Neal Broten, Andrew Brunette, Jack Carlson, Jon Casey, Dino Ciccarelli, Curt Giles, Craig Hartsburg, Darby Hendrickson, Antti Laaksonen, Reed Larson, Dennis Maruk, Brad Maxwell, Giles Meloche, Mike Modano, Richard Park, Steve Payne, Willi Plett, Gordie Roberts, Brian Rolston, Bobby Smith, Wes Walz, Tom Younghans.


    Adrian Aucoin, Murray Bannerman, Chris Chelios, Dave Christian, Denis Cyr, Eric Daze, Reggie Kerr, Steve Konroyd, Jerry Korab, Cliff Koroll, Dave Mackey, Peter Marsh, Jamal Mayers, Grant Mulvey, Troy Murray, Brian Noonan, Jack O’Callahan, Jeremy Roenick, Phil Russell, Denis Savard, Reid Simpson, Brent Sopel, Jimmy Waite.

    The North Stars/Wild will be coached by Lou Nanne, Mike Ramsey and Tom Reid. Tony Esposito and Pat Foley will man the Blackhawks bench.

    Veteran NHLer Moss signs in Swiss league

    David Moss
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    Another journeyman has been forced to find work overseas.

    David Moss, who had four goals as 12 points in 60 games for Arizona last season, has signed with EHC Biel of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Tuesday.

    Moss, 33, is a veteran of over 500 games, split between the Coyotes and Calgary Flames. He nearly landed in Switzerland last season, reportedly agreeing to a deal before utilizing his one-week out clause to catch on in Arizona.

    After playing out his one-year, $800K deal, Moss failed to land a contract in free agency and eventually signed a PTO with Milwaukee, the AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators.


    Chara isn’t satisfied with Bruins’ recent success

    Zdeno Chara
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    The Boston Bruins didn’t get off to a great start in October or November, but in both instances, they were able to turn things around in the back half of the month.

    Right now, everything seems to be going right for Boston, but if you think they’re satisfied with their current five-game winning streak, guess again.

    “We did some things well, and we did some things that we need to improve, keep working on and keep getting better,” captain Zdeno Chara told CSN New England. “ It’s nice to win games, and it’s nice to be getting points. But I think we also want to improve our play systems-wise, and be better in certain areas.”

    A big reason for their success comes from their improvement on special teams, specifically on the penalty kill.

    Boston still has the 27th ranked penalty killing unit in the league, but they’ve killed 15 of their opposition’s last 16 power plays during their recent winning streak.

    They’re power play is clicking at a mind-boggling 32.5 percent, which is tops in the NHL this season.

    The Bruins will get their first crack at former GM Peter Chiarelli’s new team when they take on the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.

    Does Columbus have a fitness problem?

    John Tortorella

    Interesting note from the Dispatch this morning regarding Monday’s Blue Jackets practice, in which head coach John Tortorella put his players through some rigorous skating drills.

    Especially interesting, given what Scott Hartnell had to say.

    “You can tell by the way we practiced today that [Tortorella] wants us in better shape so we’re not fading at the end of games,” he explained.

    Fitness, or lack thereof, has been a recurring issue in Columbus this season.

    In late October, Tortorella called out All-Star center Ryan Johansen for being out of shape — coincidentally, Johansen was “singled out” for extra skating on Monday — and, in a recent conversation with NHL.com, Torts again brought up the team’s conditioning problems.

    “I think it’s a team with a number of different mental and physical bad habits that we’re trying to turn into good habits to where it becomes an instinct, but we’re a ways away,” he explained. “These are mental habits that have nothing to do with X’s and O’s.

    “It’s a pretty young team, and quite honestly it’s about what it is to be a pro and doing the little things.”

    So, does Columbus have a fitness problem?

    It’s hard to say.

    Back in October, GM Jarmo Kekalainen told the Dispatch all players passed their training camp conditioning tests and, when asked, said “I don’t think anybody can say we’re out of shape.”

    But it stands to reason one of Kekalainen’s objectives in making the coaching change from Todd Richards to Tortorella was to light a fire under the team, and get them back to playing “Blue Jackets hockey” — the hard-working, hustle-filled style with a decided lunch bucket approach.

    And in order to play that brand of hockey, the team has to be in shape.