Don't forget about the other Alex in D.C.

October, 31, 2008
There's been so much focus on Alex Ovechkin's slow start, we're forgetting about the other Alex in Washington.

Alexander Semin's team-leading 16 points and eight goals isn't getting nearly enough attention.

"That's the way he likes it," Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told Kind of like the Russian star in Pittsburgh, Evgeni Malkin.

"There's probably a lot of similarities there," agreed Boudreau.

Seeing Semin light it up like this shows you why Caps GM George McPhee fought so hard to get him over here after the Russian league tried to keep him coming out of the lockout. The matter even went to court.

"George knew [Semin] had great talent and he does, he has elite talent," said Boudreau. "Sometimes you just wait for guys to mature and grow up. It's not uncommon in any hockey player that all of a sudden [he] has that breakout year. And I think that's where he is now."

It's not like Semin hasn't scored before. He had 38 goals in his second NHL season in 2006-07. But that dipped to 26 goals last season and it made you wonder just a bit.

"I think being in the playoffs last year, going and winning the World Championship with Russia did tremendous amounts for him," said Boudreau. "He has come here this year with a tremendous attitude, and with a vengeance. He's been very good."

Ovechkin remains in Russia with his ailing grandfather. He missed Tuesday's game against Nashville and may possibly miss Saturday's game at Buffalo. But when he does come back, Boudreau is confident things will get back on track.

"Alex is still doing so many good things, eventually he's going to start scoring," said Boudreau. "His work ethic, his effort, his care, all of those things are exactly where it was last year. It's a matter of time before he starts scoring."

The "mighty" Ducks
About 10 days ago, we were looking at an Anaheim Ducks team that sat at 1-5-0, and suddenly asked ourselves, maybe this team isn't that good after all. Maybe missing Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne for half a season last season wasn't the problem.

Nothing like a five-game winning streak to erase some of those doubts.

The Ducks are back, and their victories over Montreal and Detroit during this hot run were impressive ones.

"The breaks are finally going our way," Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin told "We had scoring chances earlier in the season, but the puck would skip over a stick or we'd miss an open net, stuff like that. But during our road trip, we got our power play back in order and the PK, as well. And we started scoring goals."

After scoring only 13 goals in their opening six games, the Ducks have exploded for 21 tallies in their last five games.

"We knew we just had to keep at it," said Beauchemin, second on the team with four goals. "We were doing good things, but we weren't finishing our chances. We knew if we just kept at it, it would eventually turn around for us.

"The confidence was always there, but obviously, when you're not scoring goals, you're squeezing the sticks a little. But you try to keep at it and you know eventually it's going to go in."

The latest victory, a 5-4 overtime thriller over the visiting Red Wings, was a major mental boost for a team that wants to believe it still belongs with the NHL's elite just two years removed from their Cup triumph.

"Absolutely a huge win," said Beauchemin. "We were losing, we came back and took the lead, and then they tied it late. It was fun to at least take home both points. We played well and we deserved two points."



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