Capital Ups and Downs: Week 23

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 10: Jay Beagle #83 of the Washington Capitals is congratulated by Alexander Semin #28,Karl Alzner #27,Dmitry Orlov #81 and Matt Hendricks #26 after he scored in the second period against the Boston Bruins on March 10, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Washington Capitals defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Victimized by the mental mistakes of the team in front of him en route to a 4-3 overtime loss to start the week, Neuvirth rebounded with a shutout to end the four-game stretch with a 1-0-1/1.94/.932 mark. Dating back to December 15, he has a 2.22 goals against average, a .919 save percentage and three shutouts in his 16 starts.
Tomas Vokoun http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Won the week's middle two games allowing a pair of power-play goals to the Bolts and a trio of even-strength tallies to the B's. The numbers may not have been dazzling (2.42/.915), but given his two previous outings (neither of which he finished, landing him on the bench for two weeks), it was certainly an encouraging week's work.
Defensemen
Karl Alzner http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Recorded assists in back-to-back games against Tampa and Boston (his first points since February 1), but was on the ice for a team-high (tied) five goals-against of the nine the team surrendered. That's a pretty un-Alzner-like week, though not necessarily in a bad way.
John Carlson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Like his partner, Carlson was on for five goals-against, but unlike his partner, was only on for three for (Alzner was on for five). He had a big assist on the tying goal against Carolina (as well as six blocked shots), but not much else of note for the week.
John Erskine http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Frustration seems to have boiled over for the rough-and-tumble blueliner, who hasn't played since February 12. Barring injury, that doesn't seem too likely to change any time soon, either.
Mike Green http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/924012/gavel.png Ran his point-less streak to 13 games (including ten since returning from his most recent stint on injured reserve) then got Shanabanned for the next three after delivering a bad hit to the Bolts' Brett Connolly. He'll sit out one more game... and when he comes back, he'll have to be better than he's been.
Roman Hamrlik http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Forced to choose between a pair of rusty, disgruntled defensemen in the wake of the Green suspension, Dale Hunter went with Hamrlik, who got nicked with a questionable penalty call against the Bruins, but ended each of the two games he played with a plus-one rating. Hamrlik continues to play well under Hunter... even if Hunter doesn't seem to realize it.
Dmitry Orlov http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Had a three-game point streak (four assists) snapped on Sunday night and was on the ice for a team-high five goals-for and just one against for the week. Orlov lost his cool against the 'Canes and shoved a linesman, but escaped disciplinary action beyond the ten-minute misconduct he received in-game. Regardless, he's getting better by the week (his pass to Ovechkin on the game-winner against Tampa was a remarkably calm play for a rookie to make), so let's hope he's got quite a few more weeks of NHL hockey to play this season.
Tom Poti http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png There was a Poti sighting at the game in Boston on Saturday. So there's that.
Jeff Schultz http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Thirteen games without a point, but Sarge has quietly turned his season around, as he's only been on the ice for two goals-against in the last ten games (and partnering with Green much of the time, that's something).
Dennis Wideman http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Had single assists in each of the week's four games and was only on the ice for a trio of opposition tallies. Yes, his decision-making and/or execution on at least one if not two of the 'Canes goals was brutal, but if Wideman's a net-positive in goal-differential, he's doing his job.
Forwards
Keith Aucoin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png A goal, an assist, on for three Caps goals and nary a one from the opposition. That's about as good as it's going to get over a four-game stretch for Aucoin.
Nicklas Backstrom http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Traveled back to Sweden for a mental health break as everyone anxiously awaits a physical health break of some sort.
Jay Beagle http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png What's gotten into Jay Beagle? Goals in two of the week's four games (his first two markers of the season; he'd have had a third, too, if periods were 20 minutes, two seconds long), 10 shots on goal, 60% on faceoffs... it's the kind of week that has "contract extension" written all over it.
Troy Brouwer http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Scored against the Hurricanes and had a helper in the Hub, but his week might be best-remembered for a bad icing at the end of the first period that allowed the Bruins to halve the Caps' lead before the buzzer sounded. It's a small mistake, in the grand scheme of things, but the Caps aren't in a position where they can afford many mistakes of any size.
Jason Chimera http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png It's been eight games and counting since Chimera scored a goal, but he's been chipping in with a bit of sandpaper, something the team could certainly use more of from him and his ilk.
Jeff Halpern http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Had an assist in the Tampa game, but was "healthy" scratched for the next two games. Why the quotation marks around "healthy"? Because he'd been playing well, is third in the League in faceoff percentage, kills penalties... and may or may not have been injured a week ago. "Healthy" scratch.
Matt Hendricks http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Broke a lengthy goal-less drought (16 games) in Boston and has been hitting people like it's his job. Because it is. But his minus-two goal differential for the week tied him for the team's worst mark (Brouwer, Carlson), though one of the four goals did come on a Tampa power play.
Marcus Johansson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Had a primary assist and a goal on the two game-tying tallies in the waning minutes of the Carolina and Tampa games, respectively, but continues to mix in moments of brilliance with long stretches of unimpressive play.
Mike Knuble http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Got back in the lineup against his former team in Boston, but didn't do much against the B's or the Leafs, other than fail to convert a couple of prime scoring chances. We'll chalk it up to rust.
Brooks Laich http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Playing the most-inspired hockey any Cap has played in quite some time, Laich scored three goals three ways last week - at even-strength against Carolina, on the power-play against Boston, and shorthanded against Toronto (and he should've had one against Tampa as well). His faceoffs (41% on 87 draws last week) are a bit concerning, but Laich's doing an awful lot of good things out there.
Alex Ovechkin During a five-game homestand chock full of critically important games, the Caps' captain failed to register a single point in regulation (he did close the stretch the same way he opened it - with an overtime goal). The team needs more from their biggest gun.
Mathieu Perreault http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Snapped a five-game pointless spell with a huge insurance goal against the Leafs (and a great game overall), but has just one assist in the last 11 games and won just 35% of his draws last week. Not breaking news: the Caps have a dearth of legitimate play-making pivots.
Alexander Semin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png On the heels of a pointless homestand, Semin went out and may have been the best player on the ice in Boston (goal, assist) and against Toronto (assist). He ended the week on the ice for four goals-for and none against.
Joel Ward http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png It's been 15 games since Ward was on the ice for a goal-against of any kind. That doesn't necessarily mean he should be getting more minutes... but he's been playing well enough that he should be getting more minutes.

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