The Washington Capitals are locked into a tight race with the Philadelphia Flyers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, but they will be forced to face the desperate Toronto Maple Leafs without sniper Alexander Semin tonight. Katie Carrera reports that Semin didn’t make the trip to Toronto and won’t be in Washington’s lineup. (Here is CSN Washington’s take, as well.)
Bruce Boudreau’s comments indicate that the team is giving Semin a “maintenance day” to recover from the nagging injuries that often occur during a grueling 82-game season. He told the press that if this match against the Maple Leafs was a playoff game, Semin would play.
Carrera also points out that injured defensemen Mike Green and Tom Poti didn’t make the trip to Toronto, either.
Since every indication points toward this being an opportunity to rest Semin more than a reason for people to be concerned about his health, this seems like another forward-thinking move by the Caps. While a few days of rest won’t guarantee health during (what Washington hopes) will be several weeks of rugged hockey, it’s a wise decision to give the injury-prone winger a breather.
More than any recent season, the Capitals are going all-in when it comes to preparing for the playoffs. The team seems willing to sacrifice individual statistics and offensive bombast in favor of improving their collective play, especially in their own zone. Resting stars such as Semin and Ovechkin shows that the organization has their eyes on the biggest prize.