As the postseason winds down, we finally have a chance to answer the questions that have plagued us all year. And one question above all others keeps us up at night:
Who exactly is Alexander Semin?
Sure, he’s a 6’2″, 205-lbs., Siberian-born forward for the Washington Capitals; that’s the straightforward answer. But he’s also a mystery — wrapped in an puzzle — and nestled in one of those 3D illusion posters where you have to lie to people about seeing the hidden sailboat. A hat-tricking firecracker on one night and a reckless penalty factory on another, we now know two Alex Semins. But how do we tell which is which?
In an attempt to quantify the hockey dichotomy that is Alex Semin, I am proud to introduce The Sasha IndexTM. Like the player it evaluates, the formula itself is an enigma, whose byzantine formula* of Good Sasha events (goals, assists and plus/minus) get weighed against Bad Sasha events (mistimed minor penalties and other fiendish acts that relegate him to the Sasha Box [previously known as the penalty box]).
Since Alex Semin hit the ice in the post-lockout era, fans have been treated to wondrous goals and stupefying offensive-zone stick penalties. Let’s look at the ten-game moving averages of The Sasha Index. An SI greater than zero indicates that it was Good Sasha who laced up his skates, while an SI that is negative was a game in which Bad Sasha made an appearance.
In recent years we have seen Good Sasha 2.0, such as:
Alex Semin shoots 11 times without scoring. He’s not happy about it, but he nabs three assists anyhow. Caps win, 5-2.
Lesser Sasha records an assist and three goals, which kids these days are calling a hat trick, including both the tying and winning goals. Caps win, 7-6.
Semin’s dynamo performance includes a hat trick, drawing the only penalty of the night, creating five scoring chances and setting up one gorgeous Alex Ovechkin goal. Plus-five. Caps win, 6-3.
But we’ve seen bad Sasha as well.
In nearly 20 minutes of time on ice, Alex musters up just one solitary shot on goal. That’s it. Caps win, 4-1.
Alex earns himself three trips to the Sasha Box with three separate stick penalties. Meanwhile, on offense: nothing. The shootout actually comes down to Semin vs. Boucher (at 3:36 above), whom Alex beats cleanly before ringing the post to end a bummer of a game. Flyers win, 5-4 (SO).
For those of you who doubt its power, I invite you to look at Exhibit B, the team’s win-loss record since the lockout when either Good Sasha or Bad Sasha is on the ice. We will also include Neutral Sasha, whose presence is neither positive nor negative.
|Sasha Type||Win %|
The mere presence of the two-headed Sasha can turn a team from the Columbus Blue Jackets into the Vancouver Canucks.
So even if the goals disappear and our goalies’ groins shrivel into dust, Alex Semin’s inscrutability will be our constant. Predicting which of his multiple personalities shows up on a given night is a Washington ritual. Laud him or loathe him, Alex Semin is a two-faced hockey phenomenon. And like the Batman villain, stuff’s always more interesting with him around.
We leave you with some original art on the topic by our own Rachel Cohen:
* The Sasha Index is calculated by adding Points to Plus/Minus and subtracting PIMs associated with minor penalties.
Additional stuff by Rachel, Ian, Peter, and Chris.