Capital Ups and Downs: Week 14

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 08: Semyon Varlamov #1 of the Washington Capitals is congratulated by teammates after a 3-2 victory against the Florida Panthers at the Verizon Center on January 8 2011 in Washington DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Our weekly look at individual Washington Capitals' ups and downs:

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png One year ago this week, the Caps went on a trip similar to the one on which they head out now - back-to-back games in the Sunshine State. Neuvirth started both of those games, but got yanked after giving up four goals in each. But the Caps rallied to win that second game and went on to win their next 13. What does that have to do with Neuvy's performance this past week? Nothing. But we had to write something about a guy who hasn't played since before Christmas.
Semyon Varlamov http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Another fantastic week for Varly (1-0-1/1.47/.954), who has started five-straight games for the Caps, a span during which he has stopped all 32 shots he has faced in 37:16 of shorthanded time. Drop the rock-bottom Rangers game from his record and he's 8-3-2/1.73/.941 on the season.
Defensemen
Karl Alzner http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Picked up his first minus rating in a game since December 12 with a minus-one against Florida. Hasn't been on the ice for a power-play goal against since December 15.
John Carlson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Pointless in his last six, Carlson is seeing some more (and better) power-play time recently, so that should change before long.
John Erskine http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Two healthy (we assume) scratches since the Winter Classic, but he's certainly closed the gap between himself and whomever the nominal sixth defenseman is with his play this season.
Mike Green http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Looked like the two-time Norris Finalist version of himself against Florida, and now has six points in his last six games. Green's been on the ice for nine of the Caps' last 14 goals, and just two opposition tallies during that span (neither of which came this past week).
Scott Hannan http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Finding his groove alongside Green, Hannan hasn't been on the ice for a goal-against in his last four games, and has been on for just one in his last six.
Tom Poti http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Returned from a concussion this week, but hasn't regained his form and might not be a better option than Erskine at present.
Jeff Schultz http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Partially to blame for both the Tampa OT goal and the first Florida goal, he probably would benefit from a more consistent partner.
Tyler Sloan http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Sloan has played one game since December 4, two since November 22. To paraphrase his quote from Hockey Diaries, he's not playing hockey, he's practicing it.
Forwards
Nicklas Backstrom http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png His goal-less streak has hit 16 games and he has just eight assists and a minus-3 rating in those games. To top it off, his undisciplined cross-checking penalty with 1:05 left in the Florida could've potentially cost the Caps a point.
Jay Beagle http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Despite decent enough fourth-line play, Beagle's days in D.C. (for now) are likely numbered with Boyd Gordon getting healthy.
Matt Bradley http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217725/cross.png We're past the front end of that "Two-to-four weeks" estimate, so hopefully a return to the lineup isn't too far off.
Jason Chimera http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Chimera does some things well, but are one goal and two assists in his last 21 games (and a team-worst minus-seven on the season) really third-line numbers?
Eric Fehr http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Had 12 of his 24 goals last season after the New Year, and already has three goals (and an assist) in 2011. That said, it's hard to see a huge second half coming from a third liner.
Boyd Gordon http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217725/cross.png Skating and nearing a return to a crowded bottom-six.
Matt Hendricks http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Fought Steve Downie, which is a public service in and of itself, but has just one goal in his last 22 games and is minus-9 over that span.
Marcus Johansson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Lost his man on the Panthers' first goal and won just 40% of his faceoffs this week while failing to register a shot on goal (he has just one in his last seven games). MoJo needs to assert himself more.
D.J. King http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217725/cross.png Got four games in October, two in early November and two at the beginning of December. Maybe we should hold a pool to guess the date of D.J.'s next game.
Mike Knuble http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Had the primary assist on Ovechkin's game-winner on Saturday night, the first goal on which he, Ovechkin and Backstrom pointed since October 27, and only the second this season.
Brooks Laich http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Goal-less in nine, Laich's lack of production speaks to both the power-play struggles and the team's need for a second-line center.
Alex Ovechkin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Scored his most Ovechkin-like goal in ages against the Cats (after getting a cortisone shot earlier in the week), and fired 14 shots on goal in the two games. Now here's a guy who could blow up in the second half.
Mathieu Perreault http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png His eight points in 15 games is decent production, but in 36 career NHL games now, Perreault has points in back-to-back games just twice (both last year).  The consistency just isn't there.
Alexander Semin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Hasn't scored a goal in his last 14 games. Sounds like the playoffs, no? Also similar to Sasha's most recent post-season, he's currently at 40 shots taken without scoring, just four behind his total from the Montreal series.
David Steckel http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png A monster week in the dot (74.3%) for the League's faceoff leader, Stecks is also doing a solid fourth-line job overall, having not been on the ice for an opponent's goal since Carolina, and only one since the losing streak ended.

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