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Semin has to have more raw-talent than just about any other player I've ever seen. Unfortunately, inconsistency and problems with discipline and mental fortitude have marred Semin's career.
Still, Sasha Semin is a 40-goal scorer. He was actually on target for somewhere in the whereabouts of 65 goals at the beginning of the season.
For awhile I had thought that the old, streaky Semin was gone and Washington was finally going to see consistent scoring from the enigmatic Russian winger. Well, Semin seemed to learn a lot from veteran center Jason Arnott while the latter played in the District after the trade deadline last year.
Arnott really took it upon himself to spend a lot of quality time off the ice with his temporary teammate, mentoring Semin. Arnott talked about taking Semin out to dinner and just getting to know him as a guy. Arnott thought that a big reason that Semin struggles with finding chemistry with teammates and really getting emotionally involved in the game was because none of his teammates have ever really taken any interest in him and befriended him.
Well, Arnott befriended Semin quite quickly in his time in Washington and then continued by giving Semin lots of helpful pointers to bolster Semin's game.
The veteran taught Alex a lot about the smaller aspects of the game and it really seemed to make a difference in Semin's play. I expect that Semin has really taken Arnott's teachings to heart and has made a big step in maturing as a person and as a player.
This growth will be monumental in Semin's play this year.
I sincerely expect to see more maturity and consistency in Semin's game this season.
And Marcus Johansson, the Caps' aspiring second-line center, really exploded in his play and production at the end of the season and in the playoffs.
With Johansson starting to look like he's capable of second-line duties and Semin starting to show glimpses of maturity and willingness to get involved in the gritty aspects of the game, the two should pair up very nicely.
Semin is the key to the Caps' success. Having two scoring lines is important for a team to be effective. One scoring line is too easy to defend against these days, which is why McPhee has kept Semin around at such a high-price. The only problem is that Semin has never gotten any significant amount of time playing with a bona fide playmaking center.
Johansson will look to be that guy for Semin this year.
We might also see Semin paired with Backstrom and Johansson paired with Ovechkin on a few occasions this year. Backstrom and Semin have always played well together and MoJo and Ovie did very well the few times they played together this year. If Backstrom and Ovie aren't finding their groove again this year, expect the speedier Johansson to be Ovie's pivot while Backstrom and Semin pair up to see if they can find any chemistry between them.
Either way, Semin will score 40 goals again and, if he can find enough consistency, will challenge for 50.