Canes Now

January 23, 2014

Canes' Semin, Ruutu got the message

It has been some week for the Canes' Alex Semin, who has scored four goals in three games and was named to the Russian Olympic team. It comes after Canes general manager Jim Rutherford made some pointed remarks about Semin and his lack of productivity.

Alex Semin has scored another goal.

Jiri Tlusty has another game-winning goal.

As for Jeff Skinner, he now has gone five straight games without a point, but that's another story.

It has been some week for Semin. Canes general manager Jim Rutherford, in a televised interview late last week with ABC 11-WTVD, made some pointed remarks about Semin and his lack of productivity. Semin, who makes $7 million a year, then scored two goals Saturday against Florida, scored Sunday against Tampa Bay and again Wednesday in the Canes' 3-2 win at Philadelphia -- four goals in three games, giving the Russian winger 10 for the season.

But Rutherford said the message delivered to Semin came earlier than his televised comments.

"Over the course of the season I've talked to Alex and his agent," Rutherford said. "Because of the language problems, while I have talked with Alex a few times, I communicate with him through his agent so there is a total understanding of what's being said.

"Those comments (to WTVD) didn't just come out of the blue. They had already been communicated. Alex understood we have a big investment in him, that certain players have certain roles and his role for us is to score goals and be productive."

Another player to draw criticism from Rutherford in the interview was forward Tuomo Ruutu, who has four goals and eight assists and is minus-16 in 44 games. Ruutu was moved to the fourth line for the Flyers game and immediately responded with his best shift of the season and then a strong game, getting in seven hits.

Again, Rutherford said Ruutu also knew of his concerns in advance of his televised remarks.

"I met with him about 10 days ago and we walked through where he is at, and I expressed what we needed him to do," Rutherford said. "He's certainly feeling the pressure. He knows he's not on top of his game right now. But he's a good player and a good person and I feel he will get it going."

Another player Rutherford hopes can get going soon is goalie Cam Ward. A lower-body injury has kept Ward out since Dec. 31, but Rutherford said he could again be available to practice and possibly play next week.

Ward suffered a lower-body injury Oct. 24 at Minnesota that kept him out until Nov. 16. He returned to play 11 games before being sidelined again.

"We made it very clear to Cam that he needs to be 100 percent healthy before he comes back," Rutherford said. "He wasn't the last time."

Anton Khudobin was in net Wednesday as the Canes won the game that was postponed a day because of the snowy conditions in Philadelphia on Tuesday. The rescheduling meant Thursday's game against the Buffalo Sabres will be the back end of a back-to-back.

Canes coach Kirk Muller changed up his lines Wednesday. Jordan Staal centered Skinner and Elias Lindholm, and Manny Malhotra was at center with Nathan Gerbe and Pat Dwyer, although Dwyer left the game with an injury.

Semin and Tlusty each scored even-strength goals, and Tlusty and Eric Staal had assists. Tlusty's third-period goal was his second game-winner of the season.

Gerbe’s goal? It came on an amazing between-the-legs shot on a breakaway -- "It was just a skilled play, give him credit, nice move," Flyers goalie Steve Mason said.

The Jordan Staal line was without a point. Skinner, who leads the team with 21 goals, had three shots.

Semin was named this week to Russia’s Olympic team and will compete in Sochi next month in the 2014 Winter Games.

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Canes beat writer Chip Alexander

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