Semin ducks spotlight

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

The crowd around his locker-room stall was massive, but few noticed 'The Other Alex' walk in and take a seat on a nearby table amid the hockey tape and power bars.

It was his next-door neighbour Alex Ovechkin getting all the attention as Russian compatriot Alexander Semin waited out the interview so he could shed his gear.

Funny thing, though, it's Semin who's leading the Washington Capitals with six goals and 10 points through five games this NHL season -- not Alexander the GR8.

"He's flying under the radar, which is cool by him," said Caps head coach Bruce Boudreau of Semin, who doesn't do interviews in English because of his shy nature and lack of language skills.

Better known to his teammates as Sasha, Semin's skill on the ice surface has not been lost in translation.

"Ovie gets all the credit and the press and the media, but Sasha is a world-class talent as well," said linemate Brooks Laich. "The way he controls the puck and sees plays and makes plays that other people don't see, sometimes you're just in awe of him.a

"Playing with him, I always have to be ready. There's sometimes I think he doesn't see me, and all of a sudden, he just zips a pass right on my tape."

He can put the puck in the net, too.

Semin scored 38 goals in 77 games in 2006-07 and netted another 26 last season despite appearing in only 63 games because of a troublesome ankle injury.

Tied for second among NHL goal-scorers with a half-dozen heading into last night's game against the host Calgary Flames, Semin often has the luxury of flying under the radar on the ice as well as off it.

While Ovechkin and the top line tend to draw the opposition's shut-down defenders, Semin and his mates take advantage of more friendly matchups.

There are similarities between Ovechkin and Semin. Both stand 6-foot-2. Semin's hair is just as long, and they share a taste for gold chains.

Their games, however, are very different.

"He's not a bull," said Boudreau of Semin. "He's more of the silky, smooth skater, but he's got as much skill as anybody.

"The people that see him day-in and day-out are sometimes amazed at what he can do."

Those people include former Flames winger Chris Clark.

"There's not many skill guys as physical as Alex Ovechkin is," said Clark. "(Semin) might be more skilled than Alex Ovechkin. It's amazing the skill that he has. When he shows his toe-drags, it's just amazing."

Clark says Semin's defensive game has come around, too. He used to make himself look as silly as the defenders he burns at times, but now he takes fewer chances.

That hasn't hurt his production. And as much as Ovechkin seems to thrive in the spotlight, he doesn't mind sharing it.

"I'm happy for Sasha right now," Ovechkin said. "He's doing an unbelievable job right now for our team -- scoring goals, making great plays. He feels pretty good, and I feel pretty good for him, too."

Temporarily at least, Ovechkin has been pushed off his perch as the offensive leader with the Caps. But he never has to worry about his spot as the media's go-to guy.

With every great performance will come more requests of Semin to chat.

"He's starting to get the recognition he deserves," Laich said.

Too bad Semin doesn't want it.

He'll leave that to Ovechkin.


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