Capital Ups and Downs: Week 18

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png In somewhat of a surprise start and his first action in more than two weeks, Neuvy turned away all 22 Penguins shots he saw on Sunday to notch his second shutout of the season.
Semyon Varlamov http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Another strong week (1-0-1/1.92/.937) ends with Varly third in the League in both goals against average and save percentage, and he now has a 1.77 GAA and .942 SV% since his nightmare night in New York. Perhaps more importantly, he ended a personal five-game losing streak in Tampa on Friday night, as he works to get back above .500 for the season (he currently sits at 9-7-4).
Defensemen
Karl Alzner http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png His goal-less streak is now at 19 games, but no one is going to care if he keeps having weeks like this last one, during which he wasn't on the ice for a single goal-against (while continuing to play against opponents' top lines). In fact, Alzner has been on the ice for just one goal-against in the last seven games.
John Carlson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Plays like his ill-advised drop pass against the Habs are reminders that Carlson is still a rookie. They're also shockingly infrequent for the leader in plus/minus among Caps blueliners, who stepped up with a career-high 27:46 of ice time in Mike Green's absence on Sunday. If and when he starts shooting (and carrying) the puck more, look out.
John Erskine http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png The Caps allowed four goals this past week and Erskine was on for three of them. But his low, hard shot through traffic turned into the primary assist on the first (and game-winning) goal on Sunday, saving him from a down arrow. It would be nice if the Caps had enough depth to get Big John a night or two off every once in a while - the way he plays the game wears on a fella.
Mike Green http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png With assists in back-to-back games to start the week (including just this third power-play helper since October) and four shots on goal in Tampa, Green looked to be getting back on track before taking a Brooks Orpik slapper in the ear on Sunday. We'll see if this derails him or not.
Scott Hannan http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Along with Erskine, was on the ice for three goals-against this week. Unlike Erskine, he was on for three goals-for, and was particularly solid against the Pens.
Tom Poti http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Zzzzzz...
Jeff Schultz http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png After a brutal start to his return from injury at the very end of December (minus-seven in eight games), Sarge has turned it around (plus-seven in the last eight), as he's been on the ice for just one goal-against in the last eight games, and that didn't come this week (but his assist on Marcus Johansson's shorty against the Pens did). He also hasn't been on the ice for a 5-on-4 power-play goal-against since November 19, which is a pretty good number for the team's top short-handed minutes-getter.
Tyler Sloan http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png If Green is out for Tuesday night, look for Sloan to get his first action since December.
Forwards
Nicklas Backstrom http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Friday night was a reminder of how great the top line of Ovechkin-Backstrom-anyone can be, as Nick tallied a pair of goals and a pair of assists, to go along with five shots on goal and a plus-three rating (against a top opponent in Tampa, no less). And while a pair of point-less games sandwiched that effort, Backstrom hasn't been on the ice for a goal-against in nine games, continues to acquit himself well in the dot, and has 11 points in his last ten games. It certainly feels as if he's ramping it up.
Jay Beagle http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Beagle's gotta be one healthy player away from returning to Hershey, though he's played about as well as one could reasonably expect him to play while in D.C.
Matt Bradley http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Fought in Tampa. Wanted to fight in D.C. on Sunday, but Matt Cooke being Matt Cooke, it wasn't to be.
Jason Chimera http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Had a goal and an assist against the Bolts, but one wonders how long his plush assignment on the top line can last.
Eric Fehr http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Sunday will be four weeks since Fehr was declared out "three-to-four weeks." I'd bet the over.
Boyd Gordon http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Gordon has gone 17 games without a goal and has one assist in his last 26 games. But he was 9-for-12 on defensive-zone draws this week, so there's that.
Matt Hendricks http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Got things going in Tampa when he took up temporary residence in Dwayne Roloson's crease (and perhaps in his head, too), and tied his career-high for points in a season with an assist on Sunday.
Marcus Johansson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png His shorthanded knuckler against the Pens was due reward on an afternoon during which MoJo was flying, and a week during which he won 58.8% of the face-offs he took.
D.J. King http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png You'd think that he'd get a sweater in a game against a team with an ax to grind over what they believed to be a questionable hit against their best player. You'd be wrong. Another scratch-scratch-scratch week for King.
Mike Knuble http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Scored an ugly (and thus beautiful) power-play goal against the Habs and slapped home an empty-netter against the Pens, but also did some fantastic, less-credited work in front of the Lightning net on the Caps' power-play goal Friday night.
Brooks Laich http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png If it wasn't for his atrocious, three-penalty game on Monday, Laich would certainly deserve an up arrow for his goals on Friday night and Sunday. What the heck - up arrow. You had me at "the bakery."
Alex Ovechkin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png By blowing up P.K. Subban on Monday (and being more engaged, physically, in general), notching four points and 10 shots on goal against the Bolts, and drawing four penalties this week, Ovi showed that he's still got it. He's also got 10 points in his last eight games, and has gone eight games without being on the ice for a goal-against (while being on for 10 of the 17 the Caps have scored).
Mathieu Perreault http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png With a goal and three assists this week, Perreault has his first career three-game scoring-streak... which sounds like something bordering on consistency.
Alexander Semin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Hopeful to return Tuesday, Semin could be the key to taking a team that's playing well to the next level.
David Steckel http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png With just one point in his last 16 games, Steckel can't afford to pile up the minus-one's (as he did in two of the three games this week before grabbing a plus-one against the Pens). Kudos to "Dangerous Dave," however, for answering the bell against Pittsburgh... even though every sane person on the planet knows he was taken to task for something he didn't intend to do in the first place.

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