Hunter drops Semin to fourth line

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Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times reports Caps head coach Dale Hunter dropped LW Alex Semin to the fourth line following last night’s dramatic 3-2 OT win over Tampa Bay.

There wasn’t a clear message why Semin, who played 17:22 against the Lightning and registered five shots on goal, was demoted. Hunter alluded to Semin missing a scoring chance in overtime but also suggested he was “just trying different line combinations.”

The enigmatic Russian was one of four Capitals wearing a white fourth-line jersey on Friday. Mike Knuble, Jeff Halpern and Joel Ward were the others — and if you’re wondering what those guys have in common, think bowls full of kibble at Hunter’s canine hotel. Knuble has routinely been a healthy scratch; Hunter accused Ward of not playing “as well as he should be playing,” back in early February and Halpern’s ice time has been slashed (he’s played 9:02 or less in three straight games.)

There’s also the not-so-tiny issue of who’s now ahead of Semin in the pecking order. Washington’s top line of Marcus Johansson, Brooks Laich and Alex Ovechkin stayed intact, but career AHLer Keith Aucion moved up to the second line alongside Jason Chimera and Mathieu Perreault. The third line of Matt Hendricks, Jay Beagle and Troy Brouwer also went unchanged.

Is now a good time to mention that, at $6.7 million, Semin makes more than Aucoin, Beagle, Perreault, Hendricks, Johansson, and Chimera and Brouwer combined? (Edit: Math!)