Washington Capitals fans must chuckle at the concept: The free-falling Carolina Hurricanes are eager to get Alexander Semin back in the lineup.
Semin missed the last two games with an upper body injury. Coach Kirk Muller hopes his return sparks some offense for a team reeling from 12 losses in its last 13 games, including the last five in a row.
As a Capital, Semin earned a reputation as a highly talented but lightly motivated player. Since coming to Carolina, though, Semin has excelled in all aspects of team play.
He has 36 points and a plus-12 rating in 36 games this season.
“Up until this stretch, we pretty much competed with everyone in the East,” Muller told the Raleigh News and Observer. “When we had an all 20 healthy guys, we were competitive with a lot of teams.
“For now, it's safe to say when you're missing some key guys, a lot of players are playing above their roles. It's a domino effect. In hockey, you maneuver and tweak your lineup . . . and a lot of guys are being asked to play roles and minutes they're really not comfortable with. It kind of goes right through.”
Goaltender Cam Ward (out since March 3 and cornerstone defenseman Justin Faulk (missing since March 19) were two other huge injury hits for this team. Faulk came off injured reserve in time for tonight's game against Pittsburgh.