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|19 ноября 2007
Capitals regain Semin // Washington Times
By Corey Masisak
Alexander Semin has played in only four games for the Caps this season because of an ankle injury. (Getty Images )
Washington Capitals coach Glen Hanlon's cheerful, bordering on giddy attitude yesterday after practice could have meant only one thing.
"Go ahead and ask me. Ask me that question you've been asking me for about a month," Hanlon said.
The question was "Is Alexander Semin ready to go?" and Hanlon could barely wait to reply, "Yes."
Semin has missed 15 of the team's 19 games with a sprained right ankle. He first injured it when his skate got caught in the netting from behind the goal in the Caps' second-to-last preseason game against Philadelphia.
He missed the season opener at Atlanta before returning for only one game, a 2-0 win at home against Carolina. Semin returned again 18 days later and played two games before reinjuring his ankle near the end of the first period at St. Louis on Oct. 27.
"He is one of our best players, and I hope he is OK and he can help us win some games," teammate Alex Ovechkin said. "He has been disappointed about the injury. ... Tomorrow he will play, I think, and you never know: Maybe he score five goals."
Last season Semin finished second on the team and 13th in the NHL with 38 goals. Without him, the Caps have struggled to score. They are 28th in the league at 2.26 goals a game and have scored two or fewer in seven of the past eight games — each a loss.
Semin skated on the team's third line yesterday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex with Boyd Gordon and Matt Pettinger. Hanlon said playing on that line would help limit Semin's minutes; although he has been skating on his own for about a week, this was his first full team workout. He also will join the team's top power-play unit, pushing Viktor Kozlov to the second group.
Playing Semin with Gordon and Pettinger could help jump-start a pair of players who have just one goal and three points apiece and possibly could give the team three lines with scoring potential.
"He's very dynamic and kind of gives us another threat out there," Pettinger said of Semin. "Teams usually key on Ovechkin, but he gives us another dimension. Any time you add a player like that to your line you expect to create a little more offense."
The Caps' roster is full with 23 healthy bodies, so a corresponding move will have to be made today to fit Semin in. General manager George McPhee declined yesterday to say what the move might be.
One person sure to be affected is rookie center Nicklas Backstrom, who had replaced Semin as Ovechkin's roommate for away games.
"I don't know," Backstrom said. "Maybe I'll sleep on the couch."