A few weeks ago following the Caps 4-1 win over the Flyers I said to my father, "This may sound ridiculous, but I think Alex Semin might have more pure skill than Alex Ovechkin." AO can certainly do more things on the ice, plays with more passion and by just about any definition is the "better" hockey player, but if you could somehow measure "slickness" (a formula that would include wrist-shot release, curl-and-drag ability, puckhandling, etc.), I think the argument can be made that Semin would edge AO in that calculus.
I feel less and less silly about making that seemingly outrageous claim with each passing game. In fact, now I'm sure that Sasha Semin is so smooth that he can probably say "knapsack strap" ten times fast, no problem (I bet you try... and fail).
Last night, Semin had his second-straight 2 goal/1 assist game, including a beautiful breakaway goal in overtime, to lead the Caps to a 3-2 win over a short-handed Atlanta team (nice that the shoe's on the other foot for once, eh?). A few notes:
- As AO put it, "If Semin have chance to break away, then 90 percent goal." And 98 percent no celebration. It's amazing how different his personality is from Ovechkin's, but as I said a couple of days ago, Ovie has enough personality to carry two or three lines by himself.
- The crowd of 15,642 was one of the best of the year, both in terms of numbers and apparently in terms of passion. Olie Kolzig said of the game that "[i]t was awesome. It was loud. There was energy. And we did it against a team we hate. And then to win it the way we did, I wish all of our games could be that way." Obviously we all do.
- His spinning pass to set up Semin's game-winner was Steve Eminger's best moment in a Caps uniform since Columbus Day, 2005 against the Rangers when he scored with less than a second left in the second period. Emmy is playing with confidence now, and that's 99% of the battle for him.
- Kari Lehtonen is very, very good. Olie Kolzig is great. Still. Lehtonen may very well be on his way to greatness and may have even been the better goalie last night, but Olie in overtime? Oh no, there goes Tokyo go go Godzilla.
- A week ago, J.P. Vigier's penalty shot would have hit of the post and gone in rather than out. On a night dedicated to Olie's "Athletes Against Autism" charity and mere moments after the Caps' goaltender lay on the ice after getting hit in the head with Vigier's skate, this was the only cosmically "fair" result.
- Atlanta wasn't terribly well-disciplined. Tired, banged-up and undisciplined - they're lucky to have gotten a point out of the game.
- Further evidence of that - if you add up shots on goal, shots blocked (by the other team) and missed shots, the Caps out-attempted Atlanta in shots 82 to 46. That's utter domination.
- Hart: Alexander Semin (2G, including the game-winner, A, 6 SOG, 4 takeaways, 1 giveaway, 2 hits in 3-2 OT win)
- Ross: Marc Savard (4 points)
- Norris: Dmitri Kalinin (G, +3, 2 SOG, 3 hits, 3 blocked shots)
- Vezina: Peter Budaj (W, 24 saves on 25 shots against in shootout win)
- Richard: Ryane Clowe (3G)
- Calder: Ryane Clowe (3G, 5 SOG)
- Aiken: Andrej Meszaros (0 points, -3, 2 giveaways, 0 takeaways in 3-2 loss)