Semin's pass still has Hurricane heads shaking

calexander@newsobserver.comFebruary 22, 2013 

— A day after the fact, Alex Semin's pass to Jiri Tlusty still was the talk of the Canes' locker room.

If you missed it, check it out below or on YouTube, ESPN or NHL.com. It's a beauty. Semin whipped a spinning between-the-legs pass from the right circle, the puck zipping through the skates of Winnipeg defender Zach Bogosian to Tlusty on the back side for an easy goal.

"Just recently on ESPN they had something like the top 10 passes of all time," goalie Dan Ellis said. "I would say it would be in that top 10 now.

"I think No. 1 was when (Washington's Alex) Ovechkin or someone was laying down and passed it. But the one last night has to definitely be in the top 10 in NHL history. The fact he was able to spin and put it through the D-man's feet and past the backside defender was pretty good."

Ellis said Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks made a pass last year against the Anaheim Ducks that had everyone's jaws dropping, but said Semin's pass was "outstanding."

Canes coach Kirk Muller laughed today when asked if he had taught Semin that move.

"That one you can't teach," Muller said. "That's a highlight pass. I keep saying he gets more of a high making plays than scoring goals. Now we have to get him as excited to score as he does making those type of plays.

"I don't know where it ranks but it's up there with those elite few who can make those kind of plays."

Semin's reputation in the league is of the ultimate offensive sniper. But Muller said Semin's playmaking ability is considerably underrated and compared him to Brett Hull, a Hockey Hall of Famer.

"I coached against him (as a Montreal assistant) and I didn't realize it as much," Muller said of Semin. "He might be our top playmaker on our team.

"He reminds me of Brett Hull. Everybody said he was an 80-goal scorer, or 70, but Brett really loved to make plays and was a way better playmaker than people realized and that I didn't realize until I played with him."

Muller also said there are other aspects of Semin's game that has been something of a surprise.

"His puck strength," Muller said. "His puck strength, and I know now why he's a plus player -- he reads the game pretty good.

"He's not your typical guy when you say he's a defensive forward, but he understands the game, he's smart player and he reads it well enough to put himself in the right position a lot of times and he out-thinks his opponent. The part I didn't realize is how smart a hockey player he is."

Had the Canes not lost the game to the Jets 4-3, Semin might have talked about the pass, about his season. As it was, he politely declined Friday. Maybe another day.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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