NEWARK, N.J.-Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau does not believe in lip service. He wants his words to carry significant weight this season.
On Friday night he sent a very clear message to star left wing Alex Semin by keeping him on the bench for the entire third period of the Capitals 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.
Hes a great player and a player were going to need (Saturday) night, Boudreau said. He took another penalty and at the same time there were some plays where I thought he could have done a little bit more and he didnt.
It was one of those feelings. Ive had him for four years now and he just didnt look like he had it. I hadnt done that to him before. I just thought we had to shorten the bench to get guys in the game.
Semin took a hooking penalty 10:49 into the game after having the puck stripped from his stick by Devils forward Nick Palmieri. It was his team-leading 10th minor penalty of the season and came one day after Boudreau met with him about taking too many penalties.
Youve got to practice what you preach, too, Boudreau said. It cant be lip service and then go out and do the same stuff.
Semin finished the night with a season low 11 shifts and 8:25 of ice time. He entered the game averaging 17:02 of ice time. Rookie Cody Eakin also sat out the entire third period but Boudreau said he was not unhappy with Eakins play.
After the game Boudreau seemed to have full support from his players for his decision to bench Semin.
Weve been talking about this quite a bit lately, havent we? left wing Matt Hendricks said. Its kind of the trend around here. Youve got to earn your ice time.
Right wing Troy Brouwer agreed.
Bruce has been talking all year that hes going to do what he has to do to win hockey games, Brouwer said. He sent a message to the guys and we responded well.
Captain Alex Ovechkin said he noticed Semin did not play in the third, but had little reaction.
I dont know, actually, he said. Its a coachs decision.