Semin takes shot at Crosby

SCOTT MORRISON

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

So, it seems Washington Capitals forward Alexander Semin is enjoying the view from atop the NHL scoring leaderboard.

It's apparently because you can look down at everyone else.

Including, and especially, Sidney Crosby.

Semin, who is tied for the league lead with eight goals and 16 points and is a terrific talent, had the knives out for the Pittsburgh Penguins' star the other day.

"What's so special about (Crosby)?" said Semin, through an interpreter, in an interview with Yahoo.com. "I don't see anything special there.

"Yes, he does skate well, has a good head, good pass. But there's nothing else. Even if you compare him to Patrick Kane from Chicago ... (Kane) is a much more interesting player. The way he moves, his deking abilities, his thinking on the ice and his anticipation of the play is so superb.

"I think that if you take any player, even if he is 'dead wood,' and start promoting him, you'll get a star. Especially if he scores 100 points. No one is going to care about anyone else. No one is going to care whether he possesses great skill."

Anyone pass that marketing theory past Sean Avery?

All of that, and more, was prompted by a reasonable question that essentially asked whether Semin thought he belonged with Crosby and Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin and Washington teammate Alex Ovechkin as the premier young players in the league, a fab-four rivalry.

The assessment is wrong, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. Fact is, Crosby might not be the most skilled of that group, or even an expanded group, but he is highly skilled and he is the complete package.

And he probably is the guy most, if not all, GMs would pick first if they were building a franchise.

Maybe the rivalry should be split as follows: Malkin vs. Ovechkin, Semin vs. Crosby. Can't wait for the next Capitals-Penguins matchup.

Speaking of the Penguins, who have listed Crosby as day to day with a mystery injury (either hip or ribs, although he said he didn't know how he got hurt, but definitely not a bruised ego), all is definitely not well.

On Tuesday in San Jose, they managed just 11 shots against the Sharks. On Thursday, in Phoenix, they had two shots in the first period, eight in the third and lost again, 4-1. Overall, through 11 games, they have had five or fewer shots in six of 33 regulation-time periods and fewer than 10 shots in 18 periods.

Now, a roster that is considerably different than the team that advanced to the Stanley Cup final and key injuries on the blue line partially explains it, but something definitely is wrong. Essentially, it is Malkin with 16 points, Crosby with 13, Miro Satan with seven and everyone else with not nearly enough.

Penguins coach Michel Therrien has tried a variety of line combinations, but apart from putting Malkin and Crosby together for a stretch, nothing has worked on a consistent basis.

JUST DUCKY

It's not hard to figure out why the once listless Anaheim Ducks suddenly caught fire, winners of five in a row heading into last night's meeting with Vancouver.

The answer is simple: Their best players have started to play like their best players.

Take centre Ryan Getzlaf. He had one assist in the first six games of the season, then sat out a game in Toronto with dental issues. In the four games since, he has three goals and seven assists, including five against the Detroit Red Wings, which tied a Ducks record for assists and points in a game.

"He's unbelievable," said Ducks winger Teemu Selanne, who also has rediscovered his scoring touch. "He still doesn't know how good he can be. I can't see any reason why he couldn't be the best player in this league. He has everything."

LIGHTNING STRIKES

All of a sudden, first overall pick Steven Stamkos is finding his way. He earned his first assist earlier in the week, then his first two goals in the NHL on Thursday.

You don't have to be a fly on the wall in the dressing room to know why he has suddenly taken off. Confidence and ice time.

Lightning coach Barry Melrose eased his rookie through the first week or so of the season and all those great expectations, limiting his ice time and not using him on special teams.

That has since changed. Stamkos scored his first goal on the power play Thursday in Buffalo and finished the night with two goals and an assist, raising his season total to four points. Though he still isn't killing penalties, he did have almost 14 minutes of ice time, which is about right.

THIS AND THAT

Blame it on the economy, maybe. Blame it on Thursday night bowling leagues. Blame it on whatever, but there were some troubling attendance reports in the NHL on Thursday. In Nashville, just 11,294. In Florida, just 13,567 and 10 fewer employees. In Colorado, just 14,945. And in Phoenix, with Crosby and Malkin on the marquis, just 15,178. Not a horrible number, but troubling nonetheless.


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