Friday, November 13, 2009

Vindicated - - - - Haters; Caps 5 - Islanders 4 (SO), Semin Has Excellent Night...

Sorry for the delay in getting this posted and the relatively abrupt ending to this post...I've been interuppted in pulling it together about 20 times since Wed Night when I got hme from the game...

So first off, Wed night was a two point night for the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center in another three point night kind of way. I haven't read the other blogs, or Tarik or Corey's blogs or articles, I haven't looked over the Caps press releases, etc. on the game, even now (Friday morning). I was there and have my own, likely slightly contrary views to some about the night. After all, I've never been in the closet about my support and opinions for the play and potential of Alexander Semin, or for that matter Jose Theodore and what I write here about both will be my own views, the views of a person wholly unqualified to make judgements, assessments or pronouncements. At least no more qualified than anybody else with the price of admission to a game and who prefers to spend a disproportionate amount of his disposable income/recreation budget on "those things hockey". Here's the game I was at.

Eight seconds in just finished putting my jacket on the back of my seat in Section 103 and BAM! Brendan Morrison takes the opening faceoff puts the puck onto the stick of Alexander Semin "the other Alex --- really "The Unfairly Maligned Alex" --- he shoots and HE SCCOOOOOORRREEES! Caps up 1-0. The look on Semin's face - relief; the look on Semin's mother's face in the row behind me as we all do high fives, joy.

Unfortunately a little less than a minute later, Islander Left Wing and leading goal scorer Matt Moulsen returned the favor scoring for the Islanders. Game tied 1 - 1 at the 1:02 mark of the period's after goal number 1 that Caps goaltender Jose Theodore would like back but that frankly he didn't get a lot of help on. Then at the 5:10 mark of the period, Islanders' defenseman Mark Streit helps press the attack and is rewarded with his third goal of the season on the the fourth shot of the game for the Islanders. Wow these guys are real sharpshooters; of course it would help if the Caps, including Jose Theodore weren't all collapsing back and giving them room to roam. Then at the 6:54 mark, Mike Green in one of those "high risk/high reward" things ends up on the "high risk" side of things and yields a 1-0 breakaway to Islander Left Wing Sean Bergenheim who skates in on a less than then fully confident Jose Theodore. Theodore backed into the net quickly instead of aggressively challenging the 25 year old Finn who fired his second goal of the season past the Caps goalie to put his team up 3-1 at that time. Bergenheim's goal ended Jose Theodore's evening as he was pulled in favor of rookie Semyon Varlamov having yielded 3 goals on 5 Islander shots at that point.

Coach Boudreau's decision at that time to change goaltenders seemed to have the desired effect, a frustrated netminder was replaced with a young, determined one and the team also seemed to tighten things up a little. Also Varlamov made some solid stops over the next 8 - 10 minutes and the Caps blue line corps let the Islanders know they weren't going to tolerate them running into the Caps' goalies all night. Things went back and forth while the Caps edged their shots on goal total up slowly until the Caps had a good shift penning the Isles into their end and drawing a holding penalty from J. Sim at 12:14. On the ensuing power play Tomas Fleischman once again showed us all he definately has a nose for the net and Nicklas Backstrom showed us he may well be the consumate playmaker in the NHL today with a solid primary assist on "Flash's" 6th goal of the season at the 13:42 mark of the period, narrowing the Islanders lead to one goal. From about the 10:00 mark on the Caps took it the Islanders and Isles goalie Dwayne Roloson kept the Isles in the hunt; while Varlamov kept the Isles stuck on "3"...

The second period started with Tim Jackman taking an interference penalty to give the Caps their second power play of the night. The Isles kille that Penalty off and things see-sawed with the Caps having the "control" edge throughout the first period but once again the Islaes gave the Caps a power play when Josh Bailey got called for interferance. This one provided Mike Green a stage on which to work and setup Alexander Semin who scored his second of the night and 9th of the season at the 5:35 mark of the period to knot the score at 3-3. After this goal, there was actually a lot more joy vs. relief on Semin's face. It bears mentioning as well that the setup by Mike Green was patented Green and was a display of superior skating ability by him all the way into the zone and around the net while Semin went to the nt and got open for the setup. And in case you were pondering the question the tally did mean the caps went 66.6667% on the power play for the game. After tying the game the Caps kept the pressure on but Roloson hung tough until the 16:46 mark of the second period when Eric Fehr notched his second goal of the season assisted by Captain Chris Clark and Mike Green (that was Green's 13th assist of the season). The second period ended with the Caps up 4-3.

For the entire third period the Caps played hard and seemed determined to make sure the game ended in regulation with a 5 or more goal victory (can you say Wings!?!) by Dwayne Roloson had other ideas and wwas unfathomable at times. The Caps also took three penalties in the third period. I presonally didn't really think the infractions were something that should necessarily have been called but when I think in this day's NHL when you are up you need to play unquestionably clean hockey else everything seems to go against you.

For all intents and purpooses from the 15:10 mark when Dave Steckel was called for holding until the 17:52 mark when T. Hunter put a laser just past Varly's glove the Caps were skating one man down and looked like they were going to hold off the Islanders and end this game in regulation. Alas that wasn't to be, Hunter's shot was a rocket, I'm not sure Varly saw it so much as was playing the angle properly and that's why he might possibly have stopped it if his hand wes 3 inches high. However th reulst was the third period ended with the score tied 4-4. Was that such a surprise? It was a Caps - Islanders game after all.

Overtime, once again if not for Roloson and a few fortunate bounces. During OT the Caps got off 4 shots 3 of which I'd call scoring chances. The Islanders had one (1) SOG. Victory wasn't to come for the Caps yet, on to the Gimmick, urrh I mean shootout.

For the Caps Backstrom shot wide;

For the Isles Tambellini nic move scored;

For the Caps Semin, sick move puts a backhander into the roof of the net on Roloson's blocker side and scores;

Isles' Tavares, wide of the net (was he trying to do "anything you can do I can do better with Backstrom perhaps?" My perdication - these two guys will be the acknowledged best centers in the league along with that Crosby kid, before long.)

Caps' Bredan Morrison wrister saved by Roloson;

Isles' Schremp backhand stopped by Varly - never a doubt...

Next fourteen more shooters (7 from each team) are basically denied by good goaltending, the only close one was Mike Gren hitting the TOP of the crossbar duirng round 7 of the shhotout.

Then the 21st shooter, Captain Chris Clark, having watched 9 of his teammates fail, came in and as soon as Dwayne Roloson gave him an opening, sent a nice, quick release snapshot past him to put the Caps ahead and the next Islander shooter on the hot seat. The final attempt of the shootout was made by Islanders defenseman Mark Streit and Semyon Varlamov was "having none of it" he snuffed out Streit's wrister with determination and celebrated by banging his stick on both posts. If he was Johnny Drama we no doubt would have heard him shout "VICTORY!!!" all the way down at our end of the VC in section 103.

It was a sweet game for me in many ways. I attended with a good freind from college and we had a pleaseant dinner catching up before getting to VC and we had a great time at the game. I shouted myself hoarse and I';m ready to do it again tonight. One of my three favorite Capitals - Alexander Semin - was vindicated (take that you haters -yeah!). It was a two point night, I'm still perplexed as to how the press decided to make Mark Streit and not Dwayne Roloson the third star of the game, I know Streit had a goal and an assist and was +2 on the night but Roloson stopped 37 of 41 shots (0.902) to give the Islanders a chance at two points, some of his saves were pretty incredible. For the Caps I think they got the right two guys listed as stars Varlamov and Semin and I really don't care which was listed as 1st and who was 2nd. Do I think Semin's 2 goals in regulation and shootout goal along with 11 SOG, 3 A/B and 1 missed attempt while staying well away from the sin bin will get people firmly off his case and behind him? No not really but I'm sure he feels at least a little vinidicated. Heck I would.

Now it's time to start thinking about tonight's game against the Wild - hey you dudes from Minnesota - we'll be there, we'll be there 18,277 strong Rocking the Red and cheering for our guys? You where will you be? In front of your TV's out in the cold land of 10,000 lakes eh? FYI it won't be much different here than there - projected temp and conditions in St. Paul, MN at 8PM CST is 49F and raining - but oh yeah, we'll be watching our guys in person. All joking aside the Caps will need to play disciplined hockey and I don't expect the over and under to be greater than 6 goals tonight if Caps are to win.



Diane said...

Join the club. I'm another Semin fan who felt vindicated by that game. (And still there are people that complained about mistakes he made in that game.)

Yes, he has taken bad penalties but so have many of our other forwards: Knuble, Morrison, Ovi, Clark, B. Gordon; etc.)

So you sit near Semin's mom. I sometimes feel like his mom since I have a kid a lot like him (who is a year younger but, like him, a Pisces with Moon in Pisces who has been accused of lack of focus on occasion.)

DMG said...

I wouldn't go so far as to say "vindicated". I think most Capitals fans know what Semin's capable of, I don't think anyone ever questioned his talent, and I don't think the game was significantly different enough from what we've to expect from his to change anyone's opinion.

Usually Frustrated Caps Fan said...

DMG: Let's just agree to disagree on Semin.

You have made up your mind you don't like him. I get it, in fact I'm pretty sure everyone who reads your posts gets it just like everyone who reads mine get I am a huge supporter of him.

After last night's game as part of your recap you seem to have choosen to put together a hypothetical just to bash him.

Instead of pointing out he drew a penalty and took none or anything good he did last night you somehow focus on one play where the Caps failed to score, how's that different then the 38+ other times the Wild kept them off the board when they were on the offensive. Why not point to the lack of scoring on that first power play when Semin gave the team the nopportunity to go up 1-0 as the reason they weren't ahead 3-1; or why not point to the failure of Laich to be able to keep up with Semin twice so he could recieve a pass as to why they weren't up 3-1? No you point to the time that Semin choose to be slow on the attack, saying it's lack of effort since somehow you know why he made the choice he did at that time - how are you sure of his motivation or lack of it anyway - could come in handy for us all in working stock market timing. Just maybe don't you think he might have wanted to make sure the defensive end was covered as the Caps were protecting a lead? Since neither of us are clarvoyent why is there no doubt that Semin or laich would have scored on that play since Harding had only made several amazing saves through the night and was only 0.950.

I've asked this before and I'll keep asking it - who out there that makes $6M or less in the NHL would you rather have then Semin? I just took a look around the league and at salaries and the list I come up with is pretty short...

DMG said...

I don't think it's fair to say I've "made up my mind that I don't like him" because (1) it's not true and (2) it can make criticism of him automatically dismissive.

I don't go in to games with the attitude of "Man I hope Semin screws up because I sure don't like that guy!" I like the Capitals and I want to see the Capitals succeed. When Semin succeeds, the Capitals succeed; ergo I want Semin to succeed.

If I criticize Semin it's not because I want him to fail, it's because I see something that I'm critical of, and I don't think nothing his bad giveaways, inconsistency, and penalties are indicative of anything else. I'm sure you would say the same thing, i.e. that you don't praise Semin because you like him but you praise him because he does things well, and that noting them is only fair.

But, I didn't "put together a hypothetical". Laich took the puck to the net. Semin didn't get there to make a play on the puck. That happened, and he wasn't moving particularly quickly.

Why not point to the lack of scoring on that first power play when Semin gave the team the nopportunity to go up 1-0 as the reason they weren't ahead 3-1

Because that assumes that the rest of the game would have played out the same way which is very, very unlikely.

It doesn't make sense to me to say "well any of the other shots could have result in a goal, why focus on that one" because that one was an instance of a high percentage play. Not all shots/opportunities are created equal, and Semin missed a good one.

I don't think there was any way he was trying to be in good defensive position because he wasn't in good defensive position. He was deep in the Wild end, just not near the net.

I've asked this before and I'll keep asking it - who out there that makes $6M or less in the NHL would you rather have then Semin?

Mike Richards, Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Jeff Carter, Sergei Gonchar, Marc Savard, Dustin Brown, Mikko Kouivu, Shea Weber, Milan Michalek, David Booth Brendan Morrow, Brad Boyes, Jordan Staal, Kevin Bieksa, R.J. Umberger, Johan Franzen, Zach Parise, Brent Seabrook....

Semin's a top five talent, but talent alone doesn't win games and it makes more sense to value players based on what they do to help their team win than how naturally gifted they are.

Usually Frustrated Caps Fan said...


I'll concede the following points to you in your rebuttal:
a) since Semin is a "key man" neither you nor pretty much any other fan hopes he fails on any given night;
b) As you say "Semin's a top five talent, but talent alone doesn't win games and it makes more sense to value players based on what they do to help their team win..." If you had stopped there you'd have "had me" but you go on about talent implying that's all I and the few others who support him consider. I don't think that's fair.

I'll even add that as the third and hopefully soon to be second highest paid forward on the team, a critical eye is warrented and should be expected.

As for why I say I think you and others have made up your mind, I point to the long list of players you'd rather have on the team that you cite at the end of your post to bear me out.

I don't and won't compare Semin's value to the Caps to any defensemen, however I think comparing them to Green, Poti, or Pothier is fair.

The only guys on your list I'd consider swapping out Semin for are: Zach Parise, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. That said seven of the 19 are worth looking at IMO and they have contracts that look like this:
1) Richards: 7.8M cap hit this year and next.
2) Nash - long term multi-year deal at $7.8M/year cap hit so really not the same;
3) Carter - $5M per year through 2011 a valid comp;
4) Parise - I agree that at a 3.125Cap hit (3 this season and 5 next) on extension of his entry contract is probably the best comp for Semin;
5) Franzen - basically at $5M and signed to a long term contract a fair comp but unavailable.
6) Brown - At a cap hit of $3.175 is signed by the Kings through 2014 and as a 25 yo LW may be the most comparable to Semin in many ways and how the Kings locked him up for as long as they did at that price is something to ponder; he's a real bargain, but he's not going to come available unless the Kings get involved in some sort of another "Gretzky" deal IMO.
7) Umberger - At a $3.75 cap hit and salaries of 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5 for this season and the next two is also a real good Comp for Semin.

So of the 19 players you list I only have 7 on my list. Of those 7 only 4 as well as Semin will be likley be available anytime in the next three seasons.

So that leaves Carter, Parise and Umberger. I'd rather have Semin's production than Umberger's hands down so we can disagree on that one. So far this season Umberger has 4G 7A 11 pts and is -8 with 19:18 ATOI; his best season ever he scored scored 26 goals last season and was -10 in 82 games played.

Jeff Carter is a 24 yo right shooting center where as Semin is a 25 yo shooting right shooting wing. They are two different types of beasts in my book. However, Carter was a clear 2008-2009 All Star who finished last season's 82 games with 46G 38A 84points and +23 so while they aren't quite the same thing and it's likely the Caps would have to pay Carter more then they will have to or be willing to pay to keep Semin, I'd have to agree with you, yeah I'd rather have him. That said I'm not sure the Caps could afford him and I'm sure I wouldn't rather have him then Semin AND Backstrom. I'm also not sure Backstrom isn't a better fit and pivot for a team with Ovechkin on it than Carter is, though I wouldn't mind finding out if it only cost us Semin and that portion of Nylander's salary cap hit that will be available.

Zach Parise is another 2008-2009 All Star that if we could get him for the same price as we will need to pay to keep Semin, that like you I'd take over Semin. Last season Parise had 45G 49A for 94 points and was +30 in 82 games.That said he will be an arbitration elgible Restricted Free Agent the summer of 2011 and I doubt that New Jersey will let him get away then though I have to admit if it was an even choice or even close between he and Semin I too would choose Parise.

Other than either Parise or Carter I don't think I'd pick anyone else on this list or really anybody else in the league at the price tag.

DMG said...

To clarify, my list was based on who I'd rather have on the team and who makes less than six million, not who I would take inclusive of their contract, nor who I think the Caps could get in return for Semin. I was responding to the "who would you rather have" based on talent and the six million dollar 08-09 limit alone.

Related: I don't think any of the guys on that list are available for Semin because I think their GMs value them higher than they value Semin.

I think we can agree to disagree on some of the guys, but Ryan Getzlaf, Mikko Kouivu, Shea Weber, Milan Michalek, David Booth, Brendan Morrow are all guys I think any GM would take over Semin, existing contract situation or not - as is Richards, whose cap hit is 5.75, not 7.8.

Usually Frustrated Caps Fan said...


My bad I was looking at the wrong numbers for Richards you are correct.

That said I still don't think comparing Semin to defensemen is a fair thing to do.

I also really don't think comparing him at his current Cap Hit of $4M to guys who make more $6M or more is fair. But as you say and I've already said we should probably just agree to disagree since there are a lot of guys on your list ho you'd rather have besides Semin then are on mine.

BTW I think Semin and Backstrom will both be signed to contract extensions before the end of this season. I think the only thing in the way is how everyone knowing just exactly how much Cap Space will be freed up when whatever is done with Nylander is finally completed.

I just can't see them not being resigned as RFAs. Of course stranger things have happened, and I'm assuming that Semin would rather play in the NHL then the KHL.