First there was a 30-plus-minute benching in Newark on Nov. 11. Now, even more could be on the way for Alexander Semin.
It appears a good possibility that Semin will be a healthy scratch for the Capitals on Monday night against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Semin was wearing a white jersey for most of Sunday’s practice along with the Caps’ fourth-liners – Matt Hendricks, Mathieu Perreault and Jeff Halpern. Asked about what to infer from that, coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t let on but didn’t deny Semin could be sitting in the press box Monday.
“Infer what you want,” he said. “I don’t know who. If everybody’s healthy, two guys got to sit. So we have to figure out who it’s going to be.”
It has been Perreault for six of the past eight games.
Semin has been much-maligned for his play this season, which has included just four goals, five assists, a minus-3 rating and a team-worst 28 penalty minutes. His 14 minor penalties are tied for second-highest in the NHL.
“You know what, people don’t realize he tries. I’ve watched the tapes on him, and he’s really trying. Sometimes, Semin’s like [Alex Ovechkin] – he’s not used to not scoring goals,” Boudreau said. “When you’re stuck on four goals, you do things that you probably wouldn’t normally do, and you try to do too much or be too cute to get the perfect goal.”
As for the penalties, Boudreau knows they’re a problem but doesn’t put 100 percent of the issue on Semin.
“Obviously the refs seem to have it out for him,” Boudreau said. “There’s no doubt that there’s penalties he deserves. We’re not disputing that. I don’t think that diving penalty was a diving penalty. I don’t think the penalty in Winnipeg when he knocked the stick out of the guy’s hands was a penalty. They definitely look at him, and he’s got a reputation. It’s unfortunate for him, but he’s earned the reputation.”
Has he also earned a seat? Joel Ward left Sunday’s practice with an illness, so Semin took his spot on the third line. Boudreau expected Ward to be OK to play Monday, but if he’s not able to go, it frees up a spot for Semin.
There also remains the possibility that Perreault doesn’t play for the seventh time in nine games or that another player gets a turn as the healthy-scratch forward.