The headline could just as easily read "Alexander Semin reveals he still plays in National Hockey League, then scores goal."
Calling this season a tough one for Semin, the Carolina Hurricanes' priciest right winger, would be a gross understatement. Going into Sunday afternoon's barn-burner against the Edmonton Oilers, Semin had three goals in 39 games. That's not a misprint. He of the $7-million cap hit and seasons of 40, 38 and 34 goals had found twine three times. Carolina's Elias Lindholm and Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each equalled that total Sunday afternoon alone, when the Canes took down the Oilers 7-4 in a battle between two of the league's most inept teams.
But then came the goal, which sparked a Carolina rally from a 3-0 deficit. There have been many "goal of the year candidates" described hyperbolically this season. Not Semin's. Feast your eyes on this beauty after Semin gets tangled up by Rob Klinkhammer and Oscar Klefbom:
Unbelievable. It looks like the Oilers think the play is dead, then Semin catches them napping by sweeping the puck in from his stomach. Two immediate thoughts that come to mind:
(a) Semin is still one of the most physically gifted players alive. He may not use the tools in his belt properly, as evidenced by his multiple healthy scratches this season, but the talent remains.
(b) The natural connection to make is Semin's gem and Alex Ovechkin's rookie magic, which wrote the modern book on goals-by-bodily-contortion:
Semin would be best to block out his entire 2014-15 experience – and simply focus on what he did Sunday. Happy thoughts.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin