Will Semin's struggles continue in Game 6?

April, 25, 2010

MONTREAL  A lot of attention has been paid to the Canadiens' penalty killers, and with good reason. They've stymied the powerful Washington power play throughout the series, allowing just one goal on 24 chances. Hal Gill has played a big role in that, but he acknowledged he'll never be mistaken for a skills guy.

He joked there are lots of guys playing in beer leagues who have better hands than he has. "But that's life," said Gill, who won a Cup in Pittsburgh last season. "I'm not pretty. I'm not trying to be."

And about that power play &

The Capitals will again be hoping to get their top-ranked power play (during the regular season, at least) going in Game 6. The focal point of the team's lack of success has become Alexander Semin.

The talented winger had 40 goals during the regular season, eight of which were on the power play. He has failed to score in the first five games and has one lonely assist to show for his efforts, and even that point was actually a case of a mishandled puck somehow making its way to Alex Ovechkin, who scored in Game 4.

Still, the old saying is, if you're getting chances, that's the main thing, and Semin is certainly getting chances. Prior to Sunday's games, Semin was second in the NHL in shots taken with 29. That's almost six shots a game. You've got to figure one of them is going to sneak in sometime.

Of course, Semin has made a habit of coming up dry in the postseason. He failed to score in the last seven games of last season's playoff run. His last marker came at the 15:34 mark of the first period in Game 7 of the Caps' first-round series against the New York Rangers.

"I think, mentally, it's a good thing that he doesn't speak English, so he doesn't listen to you guys," Ovechkin told reporters Sunday before the Capitals departed for Montreal. "The most important thing is the teammates help him a lot. He's trying and the last game he played very well. He played pretty hard, made some hits and shot the puck. It's going to be coming soon."

Under pressure

First, we had Ovechkin talking about how Jaroslav Halak looked shaky. Now, the sentiment in the Canadiens' dressing room seems to be the pressure is now all on the Capitals even though they're up 3-2 in the series.

"There are different ranges of emotion depending on who's having success, who's not, the way the game's going, who's winning, who's losing, who's scoring, who's not. You see different ranges of emotions," Montreal's Mike Cammalleri said Sunday. "I think they have high expectations. They're supposed to win the Stanley Cup; they're supposed to beat us. That's sometimes a bit of a burden.

"For us, it's the opposite. We do believe we can win in this room, and we don't think anyone expects us to, but that's OK with us."

Hamrlik looks for his chance

One guy the Canadiens had been counting on is veteran defenseman Roman Hamrlik. He has had a miserable postseason and played just 12:10 in Game 5 and was benched for most of the third period.

"For sure I can play better," Hamrlik said Sunday.

He insisted he isn't injured and believes he hasn't lost the confidence of the coaching staff.

"We talked about it. I know I have to bring more," Hamrlik said. "I still have confidence of the coaches. I'm sure they're going to give me my chance."

As for his own confidence, the 36-year-old who logged important minutes during the first half of the regular season when Andrei Markov was injured, insisted it's still good.

"It's going to be another game tomorrow, the biggest game, and I'm going to bring my best," Hamrlik said. "Last game, you know, I hadn't played much. We got a big win and I support the guys, but it's frustrating to watch the game from the bench, absolutely."

Scott Burnside

ESPN Senior Writer



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