Capital Ups and Downs: Week 14

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 03: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals, Troy Brouwer #20 of the Washington Capitals, and Dennis Wideman #6 of the Washington Capitals after scoring a goal against the Calgary Flames at Verizon Center on January 3, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/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 Hasn't seen any game action since his Boxing Day loss, but with the Caps now a couple of days into a span of five games in nine nights, that stretch of inactivity has to end... doesn't it?
Tomas Vokoun http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Stellar in a 3-1 win over the Flames and actually pretty good in a loss to the Sharks in which he stopped 34 of the 38 shots with which he was peppered. Even with that loss, Vokoun is 4-1-0/1.73/.941 in six appearances since Christmas.
Defensemen
Karl Alzner A pair of minus-1's last week have given Alzner the first run of three-consecutive minus games (minus-four total) of his career, and he was also on the ice for his first power-play goal against in five games in San Jose. Alzner has been on the ice for 11 of the last 17 goals the Caps have surrendered.
John Carlson Carlson is one-upping his partner Alzner with four-straight minus games (minus-six total), and has been on the ice for 14 of the last 20 goals the Caps have allowed, including nine of the last 11. Could the jump from 22 minutes per game under Bruce Boudreau to a shade under 24.5 under Dale Hunter be taking its toll?
John Erskine http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Played just four shifts and 4:48 (long shifts, eh?) as the seventh defenseman dressed against the Flames, but did register a pair of blocked shots and a pair of hits in that limited time.
Mike Green http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Had a rusty return to the lineup against Calgary and lasted just nine shifts into Saturday night's game in San Jose before re-injuring his groin. So, to recap, the last four times he's returned from injury, he's lasted one game, two shifts, eight shifts and now one game and change before getting hurt again. Frustration all around.
Roman Hamrlik http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Continued his resurgence under the new regime with a couple of solid if unspectacular outings.
Dmitry Orlov http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Snapped a six-game streak in which he failed to get a shot on goal with a pair against the Sharks, but has seen his ice time drop from 16:33 per game over his first 18 to 13:38 over the last three, bottoming out with 12:36 on Saturday night, his lowest total since his first NHL game.
Tom Poti http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Thursday will mark the one-year anniversary of Poti's last game. (Paper, in case you were wondering.)
Jeff Schultz http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png If one of Dale Hunter's New Year's Resolutions was to not play Jeff Schultz in an NHL game, he hasn't broken it yet.
Dennis Wideman http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Of the last 14 goals the Caps have scored, Wideman's been on the ice for a dozen, including all five last week (two of which he scored and another on which he earned a primary assist). Moreover, he's only been on for two goals-against in the last four games, both coming Saturday night. With 15 points in his last 13 games, Wideman has been a critical component of the team's turn-around and overall success - they're 16-5-1 in games in which he has at least one point, 5-11-1 when he's held off the score sheet.
Forwards
Nicklas Backstrom http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png This is really a green arrow and a band-aid - Backstrom had three assists to push his point streak to five games before Rene Bourque pulled his chicken... wing move and knocked Nick out of at least the next game. To date, Backstrom has been the team's MVP, and it goes without saying that losing him for any extended period of time would be a disaster not likely to be mitigated.
Jay Beagle http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Saturday night's loss was the first of the season for the Caps in a game for which Beagle dressed (now 5-1-0), but his actual impact has been minimal, as he didn't produce much of anything in his 12:59 of ice time over the week's two games and hasn't topped 7:35 in any of his four games under Hunter.
Troy Brouwer http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Scored the eventual game-winner against the Flames (his second-consecutive week with a GWG and fourth on the season) and added a gorgeous helper, four hits and two blocks against the Sharks (though he was a minus-two on the night). Of note, both of his points for the week came on the power-play, a unit which has quietly scored in four-straight games, going a scorching five-for-seven over that span.
Jason Chimera Had an assist against the Sharks and was even on the night, breaking a string of three-straight minus-1's. Chimera's once-torrid goal pace has slowed (he's found the back of the net in just one of his last 13 games played), and the shots have dried up a bit as well - only two shots on goal in the last sixgames for Chimmer.
Jeff Halpern http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png On the ice for two goals-against (one while shorthanded), none for, and a woeful 36% on draws against the Sharks (after a 59% outing against the Flames) is almost enough to earn a down arrow... but getting trucked by Douglas Murray was enough of an indignity that we won't pile on.
Matt Hendricks http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Missed an opportunity, perhaps, to do his thing in the wake of Bourque-on-Backstrom... but with one goal, no assists and five fights since October 22, what, exactly, is Hendricks' thing these days anyway?
Marcus Johansson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png A pair of helpers in the win over the Flames were somewhat diminished by a minus-2 night against the Sharks (and the first two goals-against he'd been on the ice for in four games). But with four points in his last five games (and on the ice for four of the Caps' five goals last week), MoJo does seem to have a bit of his, um, groove back. Heck, he even won 11 of the 20 draws he took.
Mike Knuble No points, two minor penalties and not much else, despite getting some better minutes.
Brooks Laich Laich has gone six games without a point and is a minus-three over that span, and collected his one goal and one assist over the past 11 games in the same game. The Caps don't need a ton of offense out of Laich, but they need more than that.
Alex Ovechkin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Ran his point streak to seven games with a goal and an assist against the Flames, but had that streak snapped in San Jose, where he also had a minus-three hung on him. Still, being on the ice for 11 of the Caps' last 14 goals (and pointing on eight of 'em), it's pretty clear that as 8 goes, so go the Caps. Duh.
Mathieu Perreault http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Returned to action against the Sharks and didn't get that famed "Return of Perreault" boost - it's now been 19 games for Mathieu without a goal.
Alexander Semin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Sat out against Calgary (due to injury) and may very well have had another night off in San Jose (due to other-than-injury) if not for Backstrom's inability to go. Instead, Semin played, picked up an assist, got destroyed by Jesse Winchester and made a defensive play on Marc-Edouard Vlasic that was softer than Jason Mraz doing an acoustic cover of an Elton John tune. All in a night's work.
Joel Ward http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Scored his first goal since November 5 and broke a three-game shot-less streak with a trio in San Jose. Ward's goal was actually the first Caps tally he'd been on the ice for since December 17 in Colorado. Like Laich, the Caps don't need much offense from Ward... but they do need more than the one point he's provided in the last ten games.

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