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CAPITALS: Alexander Semin On Fourth Line For Game 2 Against Rangers
NEW YORK – Alexander Semin was on the fourth line for the second consecutive day when the Washington Capitals took to the ice at Madison Square Garden in advance of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Rangers on Monday.
Semin had two penalties in the 3-1 loss on Saturday – a slashing call in the first and a tripping call in the third – and head coach Dale Hunter responded by putting Semin on the fourth line for practice Sunday.
While Semin was briefly visiting with athletic trainer Greg Smith before practice, Hunter said that the right wing is healthy and he’s “just switching lines around.”
“He’ll come out and work hard,” Hunter said. “We need him to score goals for us and we need him to play good on power plays, so he’ll come out and work hard.”
Semin scored three goals in the seven-game first-round series against Boston, two of which were on the power play, and he had a team-high three of the 18 shots on goal the Capitals managed in Game 1.
The winger does not speak English, but Alex Ovechkin said Semin is aware that the penalties came after he made not the best of decisions.
“He’s not a rookie,” Ovechkin said. “He knows that he can’t take that penalty, can’t take that kind of penalty that he take in the first. Of course, [when] he takes a penalty … everybody thinks, ‘Jeez, why I have to do that?’ You feel bad for your penalty guys to kill the penalty while you sit on the benches. You’re like, ‘Please don’t score a goal.’ It’s not a good feeling.”
Semin was on the second line for Game 1 with Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom. The Capitals had Troy Brouwer, Brooks Laich and Ovechkin on the top line at Monday’s morning skate, with Backstrom between Johansson and Jason Chimera on the second line, Matt Hendricks, Jay Beagle and Joel Ward on the third line and Semin to the right of Mike Knuble and Keith Aucoin on the fourth line.
Moving Ovechkin to right wing would seemingly get him away from Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi, though Hunter said that likely won’t matter.
“Well, he’s always gonna get Girardi no matter what, just like he had [Boston defenseman Zdeno] Chara last series,” Hunter said. “That’s the way it is, and Ovi’s hitting and driving the net, and good things will happen.”
Hunter confirmed Jeff Schultz, out for Game 1, would be back in Monday against the Rangers, replacing John Erskine and teaming with Dennis Wideman. Karl Alzner and John Carlson will be the top defensive pair and Roman Hamrlik and Mike Green will be the second duo.
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