Same Sasha, different jersey.
Over the summer, after playing 469 games and scoring 197 goals for the Washington Capitals, Alex Semin moved on, signing a one-year, $7 million dollar deal with division rival Carolina. Despite scoring the lowest number of goals (21) since his rookie year (10), Semin got a $300k raise from the Hurricanes.
The Semin signing was just one reason among many why Carolina Hurricanes fans were optimistic. After a last-place finish in the Southeast division last year, Carolina added Semin to the team’s core of Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner, and Cam Ward, and acquired Eric’s younger brother, Jordan, from the Penguins.
On Saturday, the Hurricanes — projected by many to compete for the Southeast title — got trounced 5-1 by last year’s division champions, the Florida Panthers. In 23:03 of ice-time (6:30 more than his average TOI last year), Semin had one lonely shot on goal and four penalty minutes.
Video via welshhockeyfan.
The book on Sasha Minor goes like this: get under his skin, give him an extra whack or two in the corners, and wait for him to retaliate. In the second period, Semin did just that.
After taking a run in the corner from a Panthers defenseman, Semin cross-checked in the offensive zone– part of a sequence which resulted in goalie Jose Theodore getting bowled over. As Semin skated to the box, he let the officials know what he thought of the call (or possibly their mothers), and picked up another two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Recall last season, when Semin started the first 18 games of the season with a glut of penalties. He took 14 during the stretch, including a 7-game streak of at least one two-minute. Semin mellowed out towards the end of the season, but found himself back in the hot seat after Game 1 of the Capitals Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the New York Rangers. Semin took two retaliatory penalties that night: a first period slash that negated a Washington power play and another trip to the Sasha box in the third.
Despite all that, Semin was arguably the Capitals the best player last year:
Among players with more than 20 games played, no one saw a bigger percentage of scoring chances go towards the enemy net than Semin. Plainly said: Semin is a great possession player. It’s a true loss for the Capitals to see him go.
Alex Semin can be a world-class player or a clown — depending on the weather. Here’s looking forward to 47 more games of Sasha in Canes red. Should be entertaining.
Graphic via NHL Live.