[Slava Malamud caught up with Alexander Semin after his recent shootout win against the Hurricanes. The Q&A session from that interview was published in yesterday's edition of Sport-Express, and is translated below.]
Our players were on fire on both sides of the Atlantic this past Saturday!
Alexander Semin knew something about Andrei Arshavin's accomplishment. It's not like he set a mission for himself to catch and overtake him, but he knew something - that much is certain. As far as catching and overtaking-that came about all by itself. Lately, Semin has been playing like Arshavin could only wish. Yes, having a hand in four goals for your team is, of course, priceless. But if the Blackburn Rovers are equivalent to the Carolina Hurricanes according to their status in their corresponding leagues, then yesterday Semin grabbed hold of the "Arshavin Initiative" and took it to new, unimaginable heights.
The Krasnoyarsk native not only matched the achievement of the guy from St. Pete-participating in all four goals made by his team- but he even surpassed him by making the game-winning shootout goal. Not only that, Semin was also on the ice when each of Carolina's four goals was made. Not one single goal in this game happened without Semin! Alexander responds to his heroism (both with and without quotation marks) with a measure of humor, but it's difficult to deny that lately he's been the most valuable player for Washington. He has 16 points (7+9) in the last nine games, which is even better than Ovechkin, who has14 points in the last ten games. So, if Semin was compared to Arshavin on Saturday evening, then it wouldn't be a sin for Arshavin to respond in a like manner.
"No, it really wasn't anything special" said Semin after the game. "I just didn't play for a long time due to injuries, and then it took me a while to get going. It's not really so simple to jump right back into the swing of things. Your game comes to you gradually, match by match. And it's finally returned."
Today it seemed like no matter what you did it turned into a goal.
"Well, yeah. We let in four goals while I was on the ice. We were winning 4:2 and we stopped playing our game. I had a -3 rating!"
So was this an unsuccessful game for you?
"No, of course it is good to get points, but it is still unpleasant when you are on the ice and get scored on."
Carolina was nonetheless a little bit more motivated today.
"Yeah, they trampled on us a little bit, but we persevered. Right now we can't find that same game we had at the beginning of the season. There isn't the same pressure, the same passion. Maybe we're a little tired. I don't know."
What is more important right now-gaining points or getting into a "Cup" rhythm?
"Well, we've already made it into the playoffs. The difference between second or third place might make a difference to somebody, but the main thing for me is that the team heads into the playoffs in optimal form."
Are you close to that form right now?
"Well....previously when we were leading 4:2 we never lost. But now...."
Is playing on the same line with Ovechkin and Backstrom ideal for you as far as rhythm, tempo and teamwork?
"We constantly play together during the course of the season, so there isn't any problems whatsoever with teamwork. We're just all young guys, so we end up together."
Were you awarded the red hardhat by the team today for being the hardest working player?
"Yeah, but I've lost it somehow. They're already yelling at us because we keep giving it back and forth between ourselves, the Russian guys. The other guys are mad about it."
How many times does this make that you've gotten the hardhat?
"I haven't kept track."
Judging by the look on your face, you're happy, both with this game and the season as a whole.
"The main event is still ahead of us. Of course it's been a great season. If I hadn't been injured, it would have been an even better one."
Today Arshavin had a hand in four goals for "Arsenal"...
"Yeah, I got on the internet before the game. I always check up on the news before I take a nap during the day. I saw that Arsenal was leading 2:0 and he made both of those. However, I had a hand in five goals, including the shootout!"