A new year brings a new batch of questions, so let's get right to them.
I've been following Alexander Semin from the Washington Capitals this year (I have him in my hockey pool) and he's really caught my attention. He's currently on pace to score around 45 goals, and could hit 50 if he keeps up his play of late.
My concern is that he gets little recognition around the hockey world. No one is talking much about him. Is it purely because of Alexander Ovechkin overshadowing him? Do you think this guy is having a breakthrough season, or just a lucky season?
Savas Varadas, Huntsville, Ont.
First of all, Semin doesn't get a lot of recognition because he plays in Washington. I'm still having a hard time dealing with the fact Daniel Briere got more All-Star votes than Ovechkin, but the same factor that hurt the young superstar at the ballot box hurts Semin in his search for respect.
Now, it's true Semin has never put up more than 30 points in a single season anywhere he's played and sharing the same ice with one of the game's true superstars can't help but help his numbers. Still, he's going to be playing with Ovechkin for at least five more years Â– and, possibly in a year or two, with top prospect Nicklas Backstrom as well Â– so it's safe to say Semin will be finding the scoresheet on a regular basis.
In your last Ask Adam column, you put the odds of the Penguins leaving Pittsburgh at 65-35 in favor of them hiring the moving vans. After Kansas City's proposal (and Mario's continuing negotiations with Pennsylvania state officials), do you want to change the odds?
Paul Rodgers, Hershey, Pa.
Not really. Although some league observers I've spoken with believe the odds are better than 50/50 the Pens stick around, you've got to remember that Kansas City's bid was an opening bid Â– and a pretty darn good one at that.
Sure, Penguins fans are beginning to mobilize support to keep the team and local politicians are saying all the right things, but this reminds me of the last days of the Winnipeg Jets, where many of the same things were said before the bad news ultimately sunk in.
What the current situation will all come down to, of course, is money. And since I expect the K.C. group to sweeten the pot in their next offer, I still think Pennsylvanians will be in tough to retain the team.
Do the goals scored against the goalie during a shootout count against his goals-against average and save percentage?
Also, if a goalie is pulled for an extra skater and a goal is scored into the vacated net, who is that goal scored against?
DWM Jr., South Plainfield, N.J.
No, shootout goals don't count against a goaltender's GAA. They also don't count as bona fide goals for skaters, much to Mikko Koivu's chagrin.
As for question No. 2: if you look at boxscores, you'll often see the term (en) near the end of the third period summary. That signifies an empty net goal, which doesn't hurt any goaltender's numbers. Much to the relief of Ilya Kovalchuk and Kristian Huselius, who share the NHL lead in empty-netters this season, those do count for skaters' stats.
(By the way, there's a 15-way tie for second place in the empty-net goal-getter race. These are the players involved: Christopher Higgins, Dainius Zubrus, Thomas Vanek, Mike Grier, Brendan Shanahan, Martin Lapointe, Todd Marchant, Miro Satan, Jochen Hecht, Rob Niedermayer, Daniel Alfredsson, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin Havlat, Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay. Just another thing for overzealous betting types to wager on, I suppose.)
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