As stated before, the inside track is that Marcus Johansson, Alex Semin, and Brooks Laich will be the Caps second forward unit. Washington is a very deep team.
Any prediction in early August is a little crazy.
“Tampa Bay will sweep the Capitals and go the Eastern Conference Championships.”
Oh wait, whoever said that was right…
Nevertheless, Hockey moves on. Let’s quickly look at Marcus Johansson first, Alexander Semin second and Brooks Laich last.
Johansson is coming into his second season. Last year, he had 27 points. While not much, it was good for sixth best among Caps forwards. 13 goals and 14 assists with a plus 2. That was with limited playing time. His shooting percentage was a whopping 12.7 percent. That was second among players with 100 or more shots. Semin took 71 penalty minutes last year. Johansson, ten. There is a lot to like from a rookie when watching him play.
Marcus’ physical strength is his speed and agility. He will need to use those to make plays on this line.
In the offensive zone it will be up to Johansson to control the puck while Brooks Laich tries to set up in front of the net and Alex Semin looks for the one timer.
In the defensive zone he will need to support well to balance out Semin’s offensive mind. He did have 47 hits last year. That was more than Boyd Gordon. A good mix of well timed and executed checks with speed and some nifty stick lifts will serve him well.
This play is a great example of what he can do. Good speed, good puck control, good hands, and good penalty killing.
Brooks Laich got paid this off-season. He’s going to be in Washington for a long time. Hopefully Caps fans can see a small elevation in play to match the extra money.
At 48 points last season and only 16 goals, Laich as many other Capitals had a down year. It’s ok because his hard work shows up on the tape. His plus-14 rating was good, but his 7% shooting percentage was terrible. He will need to take better shots: stick to the script and get in the goalies’ faces, and hack and thrash for rebounds off Semin’s snipes.
The prediction is that Laich breaks 50 with a much more impressive goal to assist ratio. This video is what it should look like.
Finally, Alex Semin. While both he and Alexander Ovechkin are Russian, they are not the same type of player.
A Basketball Analogy : If Ovechkin is LeBron James, Semin is Ray Allen.
Semin does not need the puck to be effective. While he is very skilled, he is actually better for his team without the puck. He’s undisciplined and makes as many bad plays as good ones. Granted, sometimes his bad plays still look like good plays.This is no longer acceptable however. Caps fans will need Semin to either step up his decision-making or take a page from Ray Allen.
Stay in your favorite shooting positions and wait for the other great players on your team to get it to you. No shame in playing YOUR game. He’ll find it’s not that hard to get back on defense when he hasn’t turned the puck over going in the wrong direction.
The projection is that Semin plays marginally better on defense but gets back to 80+ points. Hitting the 40 goal mark is what justifies his salary.
Here is one more video to keep this article easy on the eyes. The guy does have some nice hands. Enjoy!