When the Caps say they aren’t trading Semin, does anyone listen?

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Yet again Alexander Semin’s name has popped up in the rumor mill as trade bait for the Washington Capitals. And yet again, Caps GM George McPhee has done his best to shoot down any rumors by reiterating that Semin won’t be moved over the offseason. Hopefully, fans and prognosticators will remember this categorical denial for more than a few weeks.

This time GM George McPhee (GMGM to the cool kids) used a little humor when explaining his rationale for keeping Semin around for another season. Apparently scoring goals is a good thing. From EJ Hradek on NHL.com:

“We like Semin because he can score goals,” McPhee said Monday, squashing the latest round of Semin trade tales. “Those guys aren’t easy to find.”

“We’ve made our moves,” he continued. “I don’t anticipate us making any other changes. If I go into the season with this group, I’m fine with that.”

At least he tried to change up his rebuff this time. But hidden in the humor is a very serious point—goal scorers are hard to find. Just look at Columbus: the Blue Jackets are still basking in the afterglow of landing a 40-goal scorer a month after they acquired Jeff Carter. Semin is the same type of dynamic offensive talent who is capable of dropping 40 goals and a point-per-game scoring average in any given season. At 27-years-old, he should just be entering his prime as a legitimate NHL scorer.

If Washington was to trade Alexander Semin, the ideal trading partner would be a young team that is looking to win right now—but also has an eye towards the future. You know, a team like the Capitals. There’s also the problem of proper compensation for a serious producer like Semin. The Caps would most likely make a trade with a team that’s in the “win now” mode; but no trading partner would be eager to surrender a player who can replace Semin’s productivity in Washington. Are the Caps willing to settle for draft picks and prospects for a guy who’s proven that he can score 80+ points in a season?

This offseason as seen McPhee and the Capitals actively seek two-way forwards who can add a little grit to the team. The team went out and traded their first round pick at the draft for Stanley Cup champion Troy Brouwer. Fan favorite and overall underrated forward Brooks Laich was given a big-time contract to come back next season. To cap things off up front, Washington lured playoff performer Joel Ward from Nashville to add even more size and grit to their group of forwards.

All three players should help the Capitals next season—but none of them are going to yield the same kind of offensive production as Semin. In fact, last season the one of the worst of Semin’s career—yet he still scored more goals than any of the three signings have ever had in a single season. Like GMGM said, guys who can score 176 goals in less than 400 career games aren’t that easy to find.

They all bring other things to the table, but at some point goals are important to win games. McPhee has made the Capitals a much more well-rounded team with the moves he’s made this offseason. Look at the team is built and Semin is as important as he’s ever been.

Ducks cement Pacific lead as Getzlaf continues his mammoth March

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By the end of Sunday night, the Anaheim Ducks removed all doubt: they’re on top of the Pacific Division.

Now, it’s not the sort of substantial lead that the sliding San Jose Sharks squandered; Anaheim merely leads the Sharks and Edmonton Oilers by two standings points after beating the New York Rangers 6-3.

With everyone at 75 games played, it’s kind of nice to enjoy the clarity that comes with a clear lead (though the Sharks and Oilers will disagree):

Pacific top four (all teams with 75 games played)

1. Ducks – 93 points (38 ROW, 41 W)
2. Sharks – 91 poitns (40 ROW, 42 W)
3. Oilers – 91 points (37 ROW, 41 W)

Flames – 88 points (38 ROW, 42 W)

The Ducks are now on a four-game winning streak and managed an 8-1-1 mark in their last 10 contests.

With all due respect to Patrick Eaves‘ two goals, it’s Ryan Getzlaf who’s really playing outstanding hockey. He generated four assists in this one, giving him eight helpers in his past four games. He now has a whopping 20 points in March.

A lot going on – fight included – between Corey Perry, Brendan Smith (Video)

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If there’s one thing that’s undeniable from the clip going on, it’s that Corey Perry and Brendan Smith squeezed a lot of activity (carnage?) into a single shift.

Early on in Sunday’s New York Rangers – Anaheim Ducks game, both player delivered hits that were at least borderline dangerous. After that, they traded punches in a pretty solid fight (especially since they seemed a little tired because, again, this was a fairly elaborate sequence).

It’s way too messy a sequence to call neat, but there is something efficient about trading hits and then getting into a fight. That’s a mini-hockey feud in short order.

If you want a pretty moment to counteract all that, check out the great puck movement on this 3-on-1 goal for the Rangers:

Penguins lose to Flyers and lose another key player to injury

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PITTSBURGH — Even with a ridiculously long injured list that would be the foundation of a pretty good hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins still found a way to go 8-1-3 in their previous 12 games entering Sunday’s contest against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The injuries finally seemed to start catching up to them on Sunday in a 6-2 loss, extending their current losing streak to three games, matching their season long.

While the loss certainly impacts their pursuit of the top spot in the Metropolitan Division (they remain three points back of the Washington Capitals), and even their quest for home ice advantage in the first round, it is still not the worst thing to come out of Sunday’s game.

The worst thing for them would be the fact the Penguins lost yet another key player to an injury when forward Conor Sheary had to leave the game mid-way through the first period.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said after the game that Sheary is dealing with a lower body injury and that right now he is considered to be day-to-day. It was initially believed that Sheary was injured blocking a shot, but Sullivan insisted that was not the case and that it happened in the offensive zone at some point in the first period.

With Jake Guentzel still sidelined due a concussion he suffered in a recent game against the Buffalo Sabres, that means two-thirds of the team’s recently assembled top line (Sidney Crosby-Sheary-Guentzel) is now sidelined due to injury. Sheary’s injury is especially concerning given how good he has been on Crosby’s wing dating back to the 2016 playoffs. Entering play on Sunday Sheary was averaging nearly a point per game (50 points in 54 games) with almost all of that production coming at even-strength.

They had yet another scare in the third period on Sunday when defenseman Brian Dumoulin had to briefly leave the game and head to the locker room after he was elbowed in the side of the head by Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

On Sunday, all of the injuries finally seemed to be too much with the Flyers pretty much dominating the game over the final two periods.

The Flyers received goals from six different players (Jordan Weal, Valtteri Filppula, Dale Weise, Jakob Voracek, Radko Gudas and Shayne Gostisbehere) in the win and outshot the Penguins by a 24-15 margin over the final 40 minutes.

“That wasn’t a good effort and at this point of the season we can’t afford to have those,” said Penguins forward Matt Cullen after the game. “I don’t think that was a typical effort for us. I don’t think we had a lot of life, to be honest.”

Even more than winning games the rest of the way the biggest concern for the Penguins has to be getting their list of injured players healthy and finding a way to avoid adding to it, something that has proven to be difficult in recent weeks.

At this point, whether they win the Metropolitan Division or not, they know their path through the Eastern Conference playoffs is very likely going to have to go through both Washington and Columbus, and they are going to need their full complement of players to do it.

One of the biggest factors in winning a Stanley Cup is having all of your key players in the lineup come playoff time.

A year ago the Penguins did.

Right now they are not even close to having that.

Video: Dumoulin shakes off elbow, Sheary out day-to-day for Penguins

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Barring a major comeback, the Pittsburgh Penguins look like they’re going to lose to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Their injury losses might be just as big.

On the bright side, it seems like Brian Dumoulin was able to shake off an elbow from Wayne Simmonds. You can watch the hit, which didn’t draw a penalty, in the video above.

Meanwhile, Conor Sheary has been missing since the first period with what might be a lower-body injury.

The Penguins’ list of injuries is already pretty ridiculous, so if one or both of these players miss significant time, tonight will sting deeper than a setback on the scoreboard.

Update after the Penguins’ loss: Seemingly good news, if very early and vague: