WASHINGTON DC, DC - APRIL 23:  Alexander Semin #28 of the Washington Capitals skates against the Montreal Canadiens in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Verizon Center on April 23, 2010 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

After a playoff disappointment of the magnitude just suffered by the Washington Capitals, it is perhaps inevitable that there is at least a little bit of finger pointing, and on the surface Alexander Semin would seem to be a prime target for blame.

After all, Semin – slated to earn $6.0 million next season before becoming a free agent – scored 40 goals this season, and 74 over the last two years, but couldn’t make the twine bulge even once over his team’s seven-game series with Montreal.  With two assists and an even plus/minus, the forward’s offensive totals represent a disappointing drop-off from his regular season numbers.

That said, any inclination to label Semin a chronic playoff underachiever would be wrong; he had five goals in Washington’s playoff run last year and had 22 points in 21 career playoff games prior to this season’s series against Montreal.

So what happened, then?  Simply put, Semin was snake-bit.  I’ve put together a handy table to make this point and I’ve bolded the areas I think are especially noteworthy:

Season Type GP G A PTS Shots/Gm SH%
06-07 Season 77 38 35 73 3.16 15.6
07-08 Season 63 26 16 42 2.94 14.1
07-08 Playoff 7 3 5 8 4.00 10.7
08-09 Season. 62 34 45 79 3.60 15.2
08-09 Playoff 14 5 9 14 3.00 11.9
09-10 Season 73 40 44 84 3.05 15.2
09-10 Playoff 7 0 2 2 6.29 0.0
Career Both 355 156 168 324 3.20 13.7%

 

Semin’s shots per game rate in this year’s playoff series against the Canadiens was nearly double his career average; in the last three games alone he fired 24 shots at Jaroslav Halak.  Unfortunately, despite that incredible quantity of shots, he wasn’t able to put in a single goal.

Others may suggest a different reason, but I’d suggest bad luck combined with exceptional goaltending by Halak is the likeliest explanation for Semin’s offensive woes.  He’s a pure scorer; he’s scored in both the playoffs and regular seasons past, and his career shooting percentage is quite high.  It just happened to be quite low in this series.