Capital Ups and Downs: Week 16

TORONTO CANADA - JANUARY 22: Alex Ovechkin #8 and Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals celebrates goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during game action at the Air Canada Centre January 22 2011 in Toronto Ontario Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Braden Holtby http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png It would be easy to discount Holtby's two wins this week and snark that he simply continued his dominance of AHL talent. But the fact of the matter is that he won two road games in the National Hockey League, stopping 59 of the 61 shots he faced (for a .967 save percentage), including all 12 power-play shots against. Moreover, of the 120 minutes he played,  all but 15:03 came with the game either tied or with the Caps holding a lead of just one goal. That's getting it done against any competition at any level.
Michal Neuvirth http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217725/cross.png Was at less than 100% when he started in Philly, saved 87.5% of the shots he faced, was pulled after playing what ended up being 32.4% of the game, and played 0% of the next two games.
Semyon Varlamov http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Was solid in relief of Neuvirth against the Flyers (stopping 20 of 22 shots in 41-plus minutes), then watched Holtby shine in Uniondale and in Toronto as he rested an injury of his own.
Defensemen
Karl Alzner http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png His ten credited hits for the week equal his total from the previous eight-plus games. More importantly, no Caps blueliner has been on the ice for fewer goals-against per sixty minutes of five-on-five ice time than King Karl, who has faced the toughest competition of the D-corps in those situations.
John Carlson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png With assists in each of the week's last two games, Carlson now has four points in his last five games and sports the best goal differential per sixty at five-aside of any Caps rearguard.
John Erskine http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png A pair of minus-1's started and ended a week in which he had the worst Corsi rating of any Cap defender in each of the three games. Erskine, who has had a plus rating in just two of the 15 games he's played since December 11.
Mike Green http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Broke a five-game scoreless drought with a helper in Toronto (that paired nicely with a plus-three rating for the game), and blocked 11 shots in the week's final two games. But as long as the power-play continues to struggle (0-for-4 for the week, one for its last 16, etc.), the All-Star Alternate Captain is going  to have a hard time getting an up arrow here.
Scott Hannan http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Continues to excel with the Caps down a man, killing off all 5:57 of shorthanded time this week and running his streak of games without being on the ice for a four-on-five goal against to 13. But is he an excellent third-pairing option or better partnering with Green in the top duo? 
Tom Poti http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217725/cross.png Returned from injury ahead of schedule to... just kidding. Poti's still out with whatever his undisclosed ailment du jour is.
Jeff Schultz http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png A plus-four week led all Caps blueliners, and he had his first two-SOG game since October against the Leafs (and that doesn't even count the shot that Alex Ovechkin deflected in for the game's first goal). Schultz wasn't on the ice for a goal against all week (which includes 6:51 of shorthanded ice time), and is finally starting to look like the defenseman that led the League in plus-minus a season ago.
Tyler Sloan http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217725/cross.png You know a guy's having a brutally tough campaign when he gets injured while on a conditioning assignment.
Forwards
Nicklas Backstrom http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Scored his first goal in 22 games on The Island, added an assist in that game, and had another trio of helpers in the week's other two games, giving him five points for the week and ten points in ten January games. Even better, Backstrom was on the ice for six of the eight goals the Caps scored over the past seven days and wasn't on for any opposition tallies. It might be too soon to say "he's back," but the corner does seem to have been turned.
Jay Beagle http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Four hits and a bit o' feisty against the Leafs, but not much else of note for Beagle, who is still looking for his first assist of the year, 17 games in.
Matt Bradley http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217725/cross.png Out "two-to-four weeks" as of December 23, we're now coming up on five weeks. Wouldn't have pegged Brads as a slow healer, but you never really know what's going on with injury reporting in the NHL these days.
Jason Chimera http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png With one goal, two assists, plus-four and 13 shots on goal, Chimera equaled in three games the number of helpers he had in October and December combined (in 22 fewer games) and the number of goals he had in December (in 11 fewer games). Yeah, it's good to be on the top line.
Eric Fehr http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217725/cross.png With Fehr (and Semin) out, secondary scoring is suffering, as the second and third lines combined for just one goal this week.
Boyd Gordon http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Leads the forwards in shorthanded ice time, and was perfect in 8:10 on the kill this week. In the six games since Gordon returned from injury, the Caps have killed 20 of the 21 opponents' power plays they've faced.
Matt Hendricks http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png I'm not saying that scoring a goal like this one would be enough to earn an up arrow for the week on its own, but throw in 11 hits and a plus week from the fourth-liner and we don't have to find out.
Marcus Johansson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png His assist on Mike Knuble's goal against the Flyers was nice, but it was a terrible week overall for MoJo, who was minus-four, won just 29% of his 24 draws, and had the worst Corsi rating of any Caps skater in two of the three games (PHI and NYI).
D.J. King http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png I'm not sure I understand the purpose of his fight in Philly, nor do I fully understand his inaction in Toronto as the Leafs got more and more physical with Braden Holtby. But hey, King got his first shot on goal since November 9 against the Buds, so there's that.
Mike Knuble http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Potted one against his former team in Philly, but has looked pretty bad on a line with Johansson and Brooks Laich.
Brooks Laich http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png With just two even-strength goals in his past 34 games (and two power-play tallies over that span) and five minus games in January (and just one plus), there is perhaps no individual player on the team in more desperate need of an upgraded second-line center than Laich (which is by no means meant to excuse his poor play, but rather to point out part of the ripple effect that the issue has on the roster). On the plus side, a season like this one will make Laich affordable to the Caps this summer.
Alex Ovechkin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png The Caps scored eight times this week, and Ovechkin had four goals and two primary assists. No, none of the four goals (or any in recent memory, for that matter), came on a slapper or a one-timer - a sure sign of when he's "on" - but the ability to put up goals and points without the power-play working and without any secondary scoring threats to divert some attention away from the top line is certainly encouraging.
Mathieu Perreault http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png In the 21 games since his first of the season, Perreault has just one assist. In his past ten games, he has no goals (and just six shots on goal). The underlying numbers don't look nearly as bad, but ultimately, to stick at this level, an all-offense guy has got to, y'know, produce offense.
Alexander Semin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217725/cross.png Here's a scary thought: the success of the Capitals season might very well rest with Alex Semin.
David Steckel http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Steckel wasn't on the ice for a single goal against all week (which includes 5:15 of penalty-killing time), and won a lot of faceoffs. It's hard to ask for much more from Stecks... but at $1.1 million for this year and each of the next two, it's hard not to feel like there should be a little more (like at least one goal in the last 11 games or more than one assist over that stretch).

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