Capital Ups and Downs: Week 24

UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 13: Dmitry Orlov #81 of the Washington Capitals (L) scores at 1:51 of the third period against the New York Islanders and is joined by Alex Ovechkin #8 (R) at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on March 13, 2012 in Uniondale, New York. The Capitals defeated the Islanders 5-4 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/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 To be sure, Neuvirth has been the victim of bad luck and bad defense at times recently and has made spectacular stops at others, but a 2-3-1/2.94/.888 March in which he has given up four or more goals in four of his six starts isn't good enough at this time of year... even if it actually was good enough to escape with a win on Long Island.
Tomas Vokoun http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Backed up Neuvirth in New York and wasn't even able to do that much in Chicago as he deals with a "sensitive groin," but in between those games he was good-not-great in a 3-2 loss in Winnipeg. The Caps sure could use a stretch of hot goaltending, but it's looking like Vokoun won't be the guy who gives it to them.
Defensemen
Karl Alzner http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down_medium.png The Caps allowed a dozen goals on the week and Alzner was on the ice for six of them (including the two power-play goals the team allowed), though the week got somewhat better as it went on - he was on for three Isles goals, two Jets markers and one Hawks score. At the other end of the ice, Alzner contributed just one shot on goal, no points and was only on for one Caps tally.
John Carlson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down_medium.png Like his partner, Carlson was on the ice for a half-dozen goals against last week (at least a couple of which he looked terrible on), five of which came at even-strength, and none of which were mitigated by any offense.
John Erskine http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Another scratch-scratch-scratch week for Big John.
Mike Green http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down_medium.png Suspension served, Green played the week's last two games and picked up right where he left off - doing little to help the cause and not looking like himself. The damage wasn't too bad (on-ice for three goals-for and three-against), but he's somehow still looking for his first point since coming back (he's now gone 15 games overall without one).
Roman Hamrlik http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png In the three games he played in Green's absence (his first games since February 20), Hamrlik had a plus-four rating and wasn't on the ice for a single goal-against. So naturally, when Green returned to the lineup, Hamrlik returned to the press box. Yeah, that decision didn't make a whole lot of sense to us either.
Dmitry Orlov http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Scored a big third-period goal against the Isles and added a helper against the Hawks (a game in which he looked pretty, uh, rookie-like at times), and was the only blueliner other than Hamrlik who ended up on-ice for more goals-for (4) than against (3).
Tom Poti http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Thought experiment: ignoring salary cap constraints, where would a healthy Poti rank on a depth chart of the current crop of Caps rearguards?
Jeff Schultz http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Schultz was actually pretty good against New York and Winnipeg, so we'll resist the urge to give him a down arrow for his pretty horrific night in Chitown. Also of note, it's been 31 games since Schultz has registered an assist, which probably says as much about the team's transition game as it does about Sarge.
Dennis Wideman http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down_medium.png Had a rough minus-three night against the Blackhawks after having a five-game assist-streak snapped by the Jets. And while (understatement alert!) the Caps aren't getting many power plays these days, Wideman has just one point with the extra man in his last 18 games... yet he got 5:20 of prime time with the unit versus Green's 1:17 in the two games both played.
Forwards
Keith Aucoin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Was on the ice for four of the eight goals the Caps scored on the week, assisting on each of them (including a three-helper game against the Isles), and wasn't on for a goal-against until the empty netter in Chicago. Oh, and with that effort on the Island, Aucoin now has as many three-point games in the NHL this season as Alex Ovechkin does. So there's that.
Nicklas Backstrom http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Has been skating for about a week now, which is simply fantastic news, even if no timetable has been set for a possible return this season.
Jay Beagle http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Beagle took three minor penalties (of varying legitimacy) against the Isles and had his scoring (and shooting) touch desert him, though a 14-for-20 night in the dot Friday night is worth noting.
Troy Brouwer http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down_medium.png Brouwer's struggling at both ends of the ice right now, and his ice time is starting to reflect that. He's had five minus games since his last plus, including a pair of minus-ones last week, and has one goal in his last nine games and has lit the lamp in just three different games since his January 13 hat trick against Tampa (30 games). The result? A season-low 12:16 of ice time in his return to Chicago.
Jason Chimera http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down_medium.png Similar to Brouwer, Chimera is struggling all over the ice, taking penalties (three bad ones in the last two games), playing poorly in his own zone (he was on for thee goals-against last week, including getting embarrassed on the game-winner in the 'Peg) and doing little offensively (pointless in five, goal-less in 42 of his last 46). He hasn't stopped shooting, so there's hope that things turn around, but Chimera has been ice cold for a long time.
Jeff Halpern http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png The former Caps captain keeps getting healthy-scratched by the former Caps captain, and we're left scratching our heads.
Matt Hendricks http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Relatively quiet week for the fourth-liner (save for another patented highlight-reel shootout tally), who hasn't dropped his mittens in a month (and hasn't had an assist in longer).
Marcus Johansson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Had three big assists last week (a pair in New York and one in Winnipeg after getting his bell rung), but was lost in Chicago and ended the week on the ice for six of the ten even-strength goals that the Caps allowed (and minus-three for the week).
Mike Knuble http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Scored as many goals (2) in three games as he had in the 57 prior, dating back to October 13, which is unfathomable. Knuble also took care of business in his own end of the rink, and ended up on for three Caps goals and no opposition tallies.
Brooks Laich http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Had a four-game point streak snapped in Chicago after a helper in Uniondale and a goal in Winnipeg, finishing the week with an even rating, a bit above 50% in the dot, and decent work all-around.
Alex Ovechkin Ah, Ovi. On the one hand, there were the two huge goals that keyed the comeback against the Isles and the shootout goal there that helped put away the win, as well as a ridiculously beautiful goal (his 30th of the season) against the Hawks. On the other hand, there was everything else last week, including being on the ice for six even-strength goals-against and stretches of seemingly uninspired play. The fact that Ovi has just one assist in his last ten games speaks to the quality of his current linemates, but at the same time, Alex Ovechkin gets paid to lead and make everyone around him better, and he needs to do more of it.
Mathieu Perreault http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Scored on his only shot on goal of the week (he leads the League in shooting percentage among playes with at least 11 shots on goal), but the big-time AHL playmaker doesn't have a single assist in March, and just one in his last 14 games.
Alexander Semin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down_medium.png Pointless and minus-three on the week, Semin wasn't even on the ice for a single Caps goal and fired just four shots on opposing 'tenders in three games. He has just one goal and two assists in his last ten games.
Joel Ward http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png An assist against the Isles and a plus-three week is about as good as it gets these days for Ward, who hasn't been on the ice for an opposing goal of any kind since February 12 (yet inexplicably continues to not kill penalties and toils away on the fourth line).

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