Semin, the talented and somewhat enigmatic Russian winger, was the first Washington Capitals player on the ice for Friday's morning skate, taking strides at the team's practice facility even before the goals rolled out.
Spotting him during the game or in the scoring column has been another story.
"I just think at this time of year it's more than just skills," said Eric Belanger, who has centered Semin's line. "You have to get into the tough areas and work. He's done a better job the last couple of games. He just has to improve. We need him. He can be a difference-maker and I think he knows that. Hopefully, he'll be better tonight."
The Capitals enter Game 5 against the Montreal Canadiens at Verizon Center on Friday night with a 3-1 series lead, needing only one win to advance to the second round where they would face the Philadelphia Flyers. They've gotten to this point almost entirely without Semin, who scored the second-most goals in the regular season (40) for the Capitals.
Semin enters on a 12-game postseason goal drought, the last tally coming in Game 7 of the first-round series against the New York Rangers a season ago.
"I think there's room for improvement," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He definitely hasn't shown the hockey world how well he can play when he's at the top of his game. I don't know that the reason is. I mean, I know he wants to win and wants to play well. It just hasn't transferred into points or successful scoring opportunities."
It hasn't been for the lack of tossing pucks on net. Semin is tied with Nicklas Backstrom for the most shots (20) through the first four games. Semin's only point in the series came on an assist in Game 4, although he can't take full credit. The puck was poked away be a Canadiens player over to Alex Ovechkin, who scored on the play.
"He's a great scorer," said forward Mike Knuble. "We keep telling him to shoot the puck. It's been a tough streak. Hopefully he can pull out of it. I'm sure he's as frustrated as anybody. It'll just take one and I think things will be fine."
Semin does have four penalty minutes, not counting the too many men on the ice penalty in Game 4 when he didn't come off as Eric Fehr hopped on. The Habs didn't score on the play, but it didn't go unnoticed.
"Then the puck came to him, so he decided to keep playing," Boudreau said after Game 4. "It was a communication thing at that point. We were yelling and he wasn't getting it."
"I'm not in his head," Belanger said. "Sometimes when things don't go your way, you're thinking too much. Maybe that's what he's doing. He's putting to so much pressure on himself and that's not working. He just has to keep working hard and good things will start happening."