Hunter sends Alex Semin a message

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Loose Pucks,Sports,Brian McNally

Capitals right wing Alex Semin had a good series against the Boston Bruins. He scored three goals, two on the power play, and, though he took two penalties, for the most part he remained a disciplined player and limited his own turnovers.

Not so much in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Rangers. Semin committed two penalties and was on the ice for a goal against. And so, at a Sunday morning practice at Madison Square Garden in New York, he found himself skating on the fourth line. Washington coach Dale Hunter said he was just “mixing up the lines.”

Not really. You don’t drop a star offensive player down with the grinders on a lark. Hunter knows what he was doing. Whether he sticks with it for Game 2 on Monday night is another question. Hunter noted that Semin had those power-play goals against Boston and that he hit the post with a shot Saturday. And he hedged on the makeup of his third line. So maybe don’t write this lineup in pen yet.  

“You just can't retaliate,” Hunter said when asked about Semin’s slash of Rangers captain Ryan Callahan.  “The ref, he called one. He could've easily called two. But that's the way it goes. It's up to their call and they get the final say on penalties.”

Here were the lines at practice this morning:

Ovechkin-Laich-Brouwer

Chimera-Backstrom-Johansson

Hendricks-Beagle-Ward

Knuble-Aucoin-Semin

That’s a promotion to the third line for Joel Ward, the Game 7 hero against Boston, but keeps the character of that group intact. Troy Brouwer goes up top with Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich. The top two defense pairings remained the same – Karl Alzner, John Carlson and Roman Hamrlik, Mike Green – but Hunter put Jeff Schultz back with Dennis Wideman. That likely means John Erskine is out again – though Hunter wouldn’t acknowledge that, either. Schultz played the first three games of the Boston series, Erskine took the next three. Schultz played Game 7 and Erskine was in the lineup against New York for Game 1 Saturday.

Follow me on Twitter @bmcnally14

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Brian McNally

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner