Capital Ups and Downs: Week 26

March 29, 2012; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Washington Capitals center Brooks Laich (21) celebrates with Washington Capitals center Matt Hendricks (26) after scoring the winning goal in a shoot-out against the Boston Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden. Washington won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Played in all three games of Northeast Division Week (though he only started the last one), and got better with each outing. He finished the week 2-0-0/2.42/.920, with both wins coming in shootouts, and became the fourth netminder in team history to beat Montreal three times in the same season. For the foreseeable future, Neuvirth is The Guy.
Braden Holtby http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down_medium.png Was given "the biggest game of the year" and promptly gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead when his pass behind the net was thieved and almost instantly deposited in the Caps' net. Holtby saw a lot of rubber - and made some nice saves - but after surrendering his third goal on 18 shots in 23 minutes, his week was done.
Tomas Vokoun http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Returned to action for the first time in nearly two weeks in Boston and stopped all seven shots he faced before leaving the game 18 minutes in, having re-aggravated that nagging groin injury. If Vokoun is indeed done for the season, add his foreshortened 25-17-2/2.51/.917 campaign to the list of 2011-12's disappointments.
Defensemen
Karl Alzner http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png One of just two Caps skaters who was on the ice for more goals-for than goals-against on the week (try to guess the other before we get to him), Alzner also added an assist against the Habs (snapping a ten-game scoring drought), was on-ice for four of the five goals the Caps scored, and played 8:36 shorthanded without being scored upon. In fact, Alzner hasn't been on the ice for a power-play goal-against in any of his last nine games, playing 21:46 shorthanded over that span.
John Carlson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png ... and then there's Alzner's now-former (and likely future) partner, John Carlson, who was on the ice for four goals-against (all at even strength) and not one goal-for last week, twice as bad a differential as any other Caps skater. In fairness, three of those were the first three goals in the Buffalo game and weren't all on him by any means. But... yeah. Carlson has now gone 19 games without a goal (and has just two assists in his last 18 games) and is one of just four skaters who has been on the ice for triple-digit goals-against on the season.
John Erskine http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Apparently Erskine is hurt and not playing, as opposed to healthy and not playing, essentially adding injury to insult.
Mike Green http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png One secondary assist on an empty net goal. That's all the offense that Mike Green has contributed in his last 22 games, 19 of which have come since his latest return from injury. But he's put multiple shots on goal in his last eight-straight games and has a shooting percentage that's well below his career average, so he's due (getting some good power-play time wouldn't hurt). And while we wait, he's managing not to hurt the team defensively, on-ice for just two goals-against in his last seven games. But it's time for 52 to produce.
Roman Hamrlik http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Has gone 13 games without a point, but Saturday night was his first game with a minus-rating (and what a minus it was, as Tomas Plekanec embarrassed his former teammate) in ten games since getting out of the doghouse and back on the ice.
Dmitry Orlov http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png A pair of minus-1's to kick off a relatively uneventful week for the young Russian, who snapped a four-game shot-less streak against the Habs and will be looking to break an equally lengthy pointless span tonight.
Tom Poti http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Potentially not-so-fun fact: Tom Poti has played more NHL playoff games than any rearguard on the roster other than Hamrlik.
Jeff Schultz http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down_medium.png After a solid month-and-a-half of hockey that followed a month as a healthy scratch, Schultz's play fell off a cliff in Chicago a couple of weeks back and hasn't really returned, culminating in a pair of healthy scratches following the Buffalo game (in which he had a well-earned minus-two rating). Simply put, he's not one of the team's top-six defenders at the moment.
Dennis Wideman http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Scored a big goal in Boston, and has been on the ice for the last four Caps goals, as well as the last three they've allowed (to go along with a pair of minor penalties in the Montreal game and a single minor against Buffalo). Curiously, Wideman is still getting the prime first-unit power-play time over Green, despite the fact that he hasn't scored a power-play goal in his last 40 games, has just two power-play assists in his last 25 games, and the unit itself has scored in just eight of the team's last 34 games (and was 0-for-10 last week).
Forwards
Keith Aucoin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Scoreless in his last half-dozen games (in limited minutes), the lasting impression of Aucoin's week might be Zdeno Chara tossing him like a rag doll along the boards.
Nicklas Backstrom http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Had a five-game point-streak snapped on Saturday night when he actually played in an NHL hockey game for the first time since January 3. Backstrom was held off the scoresheet, but played nearly 20 minutes and won two-thirds of his 18 faceoffs. The points? They'll come.
Jay Beagle http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Scored on a well-executed 2-on-1 against the Habs, but was on the ice for both Bruins goals and the second Canadiens tally; you'd like to see Beagle play opponents closer to even than that.
Troy Brouwer http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Ended March with just one goal (14 games ago) and two assists for the month after a two-goal/one-assist February. Anyone who expected significant production from Brouwer in a non-top-six role was delusional, but this is ridiculous.
Jason Chimera http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Assisted on the Caps' only goal against Buffalo and was kicked out of the Boston game early on for a questionable charging major. But he's been playing pretty well with Semin and Perreault, and adds some much-needed sandpaper to the second line.
Cody Eakin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Got into Wednesday night's game in Beantown, but didn't make much of an impact in his 7:52 of ice time.
Jeff Halpern http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png When Halpy was in D.C.'s land, let my people go. Oppressed so hard he could not stand, let my people go. Go down, Halpy, way down in D.C's land. Tell old Dale, let my people go.
Matt Hendricks http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Dude. Seriously? His two paralyzing shootout tallies and pretty feed to set up Beagle's goal against Montreal may have been the Caps' top offensive highlights of the week (though Laich's and Semin's shootout markers were also dazzling), and Hendricks now has more shootout goals (5) than real goals (4) on the season. Who saw that coming?
Marcus Johansson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Did you correctly guess Johansson as the only Cap skater other than Alzner to have a positive on-ice goal differential? Liar. His two-minute outburst in Boston (in which he set up the Wideman goal and then finished a 2-on-1 feed from Ovechkin) was all that Johansson would produce on the week, but he ended the week plus-one and skating with Backstrom and the captain... now it's time to earn that spot.
Mike Knuble http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Made a nice play to start the Hendricks-Beagle 2-on-1 (and earned a secondary assist for his effort), but was also on the ice for the two Bruins goals and the second Habs score. There may not be much gas left in the tank, but the finish line is in sight - one last big push, old man.
Brooks Laich http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Has gone eight games without a goal, but did score the shootout-decider in Boston and continues to do everything that's asked of him (except score... and win faceoffs, as he won just 39% of the 46 draws he took last week and just two of the 14 he took in the defensive zone).
Alex Ovechkin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down_medium.png A pair of assists in Boston was sandwiched by scoreless minus-one efforts, and Ovechkin also failed to convert in his two shootout attempts. Not the worst week ever, but this one upcoming will likely have to be better.
Mathieu Perreault http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Scored the game's opening tally on Saturday night and had a helper against Buffalo... but was also on the ice for three Sabres goals in that one. And don't look now, but after winning 59% of his 37 faceoffs last week, Perreault is up over 50% in the dot on the season.
Alexander Semin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Goal against Buffalo, helper against the Habs, lovely shootout goal in between. That makes six-straight games with a point or a shootout goal, so that's something (even if he was on the ice for the Sabres' first four goals).
Joel Ward http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png It's been a lost season for Ward, but we can all think of a pretty good way for him to redeem himself.

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