With his team in the midst of seven games in 12 days, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau gave his players the option of skating on Tuesday morning or waiting until Wednesday prior to their game against the Winnipeg Jets.
Nine players decided to lace up their skates on Tuesday, including Alex Semin, who remained on the ice long after his coaches, playfully tossing pucks and laughing with Russian rookie defenseman Dmitry Orlov.
Semin declined when asked to speak English with reporters who wanted to know his thoughts about being made a healthy scratch Monday night for the first time since his rookie season.
The response, Boudreau said, will be when we see him return to a game.
Boudreau said he spoke briefly with Semin Tuesday morning, but would not say whether the 27-year-old right wing would be in the lineup Wednesday night against the Jets.
I havent decided yet on any lineup situation, Boudreau said.
Semin, who has four goals and has taken 14 penalties in 18 games this season, will get a good idea if hes playing on Wednesday when he sees the line pairings Boudreau uses at Wednesdays morning skate.
Cody Eakin took Semins spot on the second line in Monday nights 4-3 win over the Coyotes, while Mathieu Perreault returned to the lineup as a fourth-line center.
Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said Semins benching took him by surprise.
I didnt really expect it, Alzner said. But coaches watch the video and they see things differently than us players do. We got the win. Its too bad that hes out of the lineup for it, but its nice we won without him because hes one of our best players.
Semin is just the latest casualty in Boudreaus hard-line approach this season. Veteran Jeff Halpern was also a healthy scratch earlier this season and Boudreau has taken ice time away from several players who have not performed well, including captain Alex Ovechkin.
Defenseman John Erskine, who practiced Tuesday after missing Mondays game with a bruised shoulder, said Semin should turn his benching into something positive.
He just has to take it as a good thing, as a wakeup call, Erskine said. Whether he gets back in (Wednesday) or the next game or whenever, he just has to go out there and prove that he belongs out there every day.
Erskine said he respects the fact that Boudreau is using a heavier hand this season.
Youve got to go with the guys that are working hard when things arent going right, he said. A lot of times its the grinders like (Matt Hendricks) working their butts off and if theyre getting it done, youve got to go with them.