Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Enigmatic Semin

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
In my last post, I may have made a knock or two at Alexander Semin's play and described him looking disinterested in a game or two. In the last two games I witnessed in person and in talking with other fans and bloggers, there was a consensus that Semin seemed mentally checked out. Readers were quick to retort my criticism with some of the following comments.

"Semin has been just about the most consistent point producer since Hunter took over. All of his stats have improved. He's engaged in the game, not disinterested," Said Hale in a post comment of All Eyes On GM.

"If there is any positive change in the team comparing to BB's era - it's more motivated Semin," Said Anon. One went so far as to point out Semin's willingness to block a shot or two as point to prove a more motivated Semin.

It warrants some more discussion about what Semin has done for the Caps this season.

The Good

In part, some of what the readers have been saying is true. Semin's point totals were a disappointing 5 goals and 5 assists before Dale Hunter took the reigns of the Washington Capitals. Semin was credited with 2 blocked shots and eight hits (including a 3 hit night against Anaheim) in the Bruce Boudreau era this season which was 21 games this season.

Under Boudreau, Semin scored an average of .238 goals per game. Compared to Hunter era numbers, his average crawls up to .322 goals a game. In terms of total points per game under Gabby, Semin had an average of .476. Under Hunter, that number jumps to .774 points per game. Seeing a jump (albeit small) in goals per game, and a bigger jump when you talk about points proves there has been some improvement in Semin's game. Whether you attribute that to Hunter coaching abilities or a playing in a contract year, I will let you decide.

The stat that beats them all is his penalties per game. In the 21 games amassed under Boudreau, Semin was called for 16 minor penalties (an average of .716 penalties per game). Under Hunter he has only been whistled 8 infractions in 31 games played (average that plummets to .258). The best improvement over any other stat Semin has had in comparison from the Boudreau era to the Hunter era this season.

The Bad

You can pull a lot of good out of those numbers. However, compare those numbers to Semin's numbers from the previous two seasons under Boudreau and they look dismal. Semin had a point average per game of .831 (54 points in 65 games) in 2010-2011 and a point average per game of 1.15 average point per game (84 points in 73 games) the season before that. The numbers have significantly dropped. Not to mention in the previous two years Semin was a +22 in 10/11 and +32 in 09/10. This year, Semin is a +5.

The Ugly

This season Semin has, for the most part, been invisible this season. He has zero game tying goals and zero game winning goals. Of 178 power play opportunities, Semin has only 2 goals and 6 assists. That is .045 points per power play opportunity this season. Sure, overall the power play has been struggling (especially with 19 out of the lineup), but Semin's numbers has not been much help to special teams either.

To prove Semin's invisibility in some measurable way, I can count on one hand how many games Semin has earned a star of the game honors. Three to be exact. A first star against the Rangers on December 28th (scored two goals), a third star when the Caps shut out the Canadiens on February 4th (goal, assist), and second star against Winnipeg on February 9th (goal, assist). For 52 games under Semin's belt, one would think his efforts would be more visible, but they are not.

I am not even going to get into playoffs, other than to say Semin has not really set the world on fire with his play in the post season either. That could be a post unto its own.

Semin is a very skillful player that almost every other player envies. To have a blistering slap shot and wrister that has some accuracy behind it is what makes him a special player. But his attitude and sometimes non-nonchalant demeanor seems to keep him from accomplishing great things in the NHL.

I believe a good portion of Caps' fans want to see Semin become successful and so do his teammates in a way. But, looking at the big picture here, he has yet to convince me that his efforts are helping the Capitals at this time.

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