If you were to poll most Hurricanes fans right now, most would agree that Alexander Semin has been a great addition to the team. He has made their first line a real force to be reckoned with and is usually one of their best players every night. However, I'm sure that most people were hoping that he would have more than three goals 14 games into the season and only one at even strength. His current pace would give him roughly 10-11 goals on the year and that would be only 17-18 in a full-82 game season. It's not that Semin is playing poorly, but the goals just haven't been coming to him for whatever reason.
Going strictly by a goal-per-game rate, one might suggest that Semin is on a decline. He has scored at a rate that was between .4 and .6 goals-per-game for msot of his career but the last two seasons, he's dropped down to below .3. So if you were only looking at goals, then you could say that Semin is on the decline as an offensive player but it's not just all about goals and points. Something people often forget is that a lot of things need to go right for a player to score a goal. The most a player can do when trying to score is find a soft spot in the defense and do his best to pick an open corner in the net when firing a shot on net. I think most would say that Semin has been doing that so far.
So why doesn't he have more goals? To put it bluntly, he hasn't been receiving much shooting luck at all, especially when you compare his numbers with the rest of his career.
G/60 = Goals per 60 minutes, SOG/60 = Shots on goal per 60 minutes, MS/60 = Missed shots per 60 minutes, SA/60 = Shot attempts per 60 minutes, Sh% = shooting percentage
Semin had a down year in all areas last season but he has picked it up this year in terms of being able to create shots. His goal rate, however, has decreased but I think that's mostly a factor of terrible shooting luck. His shooting percentage is currently way below his career average despite getting more pucks on net than he did last season. Semin's shot rate is actually close to where it was a couple years ago when he was scoring at high rate for the Washington Capitals.
It's fair to say that Semin could at least have two more goals at this point if he was shooting at his career average and even Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford himself said that Semin has hit "at least four goalposts" this season. Semin is also missing the net quite a bit (and I'm sure a lot of those went off the pipe) but not as much compared to his career average. It's fair to say that Semin probably won't reach the goal-scoring heights he had during the 2009-10 season, but is easily a better offensive player and goal-scorer than his boxcar numbers indicate.
An explanation I've heard regarding Semin's shooting percentage is that he doesn't go to the "dirty areas" to score and he shoots from basically everywhere. It's true that Semin isn't a crease crasher, but that hasn't exactly stopped him from finding the back of the net in the past.
|SOG/G||SA/G||Sh%||5v5 Avg. Dist|
Semin's average shooting distance during five-on-five play isn't much different from what it has been over his career, which indicates that his three goals in 14 games is due to bad shooting luck more than anything else. I'm sure many would like to see Semin crash the net more often but he doesn't really need to do that with Eric Staal on his line. Plus, Semin is often the main puck carrier on zone entries and either tries to find a shooting lane in the slot or sets up plays that lead to the front of the net. He is a sniper and will rarely be the guy who parks himself in front of the net because that isn't in his job description. Why would it be? Semin is most effective when he is shooting the puck and getting into scoring areas. He has done that so far and if he keeps it up, he begin to score more often.
Good and bad streaks happen with goal-scorers. We saw this happen with Phil Kessel this year and Semin is no different. You can try to explain the causes for them all you want, but most of the time it's due to the bounces not going in their favor if they are consistently getting shots on goal. As long as he is driving possession and continuing to get shots on net, the goals will come to him. Of course, with the Hurricanes recent string of injuries they may need the goals to come to him sooner rather than later.
Stats taken from Behind The Net