Capital Ups and Downs: Week 6

Bruce Bennett

The latest edition of our weekly look at individual Washington Capitals ups and downs.

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png It's been nearly three weeks since Neuvirth last saw any game action, but with back-to-backs tomorrow night and Wednesday, expect that to change... right?
Braden Holtby http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Holtby is 4-2-0/2.35/.926 in his last half-dozen starts and has either won or played extremely well - or both - in each of them... which is why Neuvirth has had the best seat in the house for six-straight. This past week, Holtby stopped 45 of the 47 Devils shots he saw at even strength (a .957 save percentage) and ten of 11 while shorthanded (including every one at four-on-five) in splitting two decisions. Holtbeast seems to be Holtback.
Defensemen
Karl Alzner http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Numbers don't really support an up arrow here, but they rarely do with Alzner, who was on the ice for just a five-on-three goal-against this week (in more than eight minutes on the penalty kill) and the Caps' shorty, and contained the Devils' top guns at even-strength while skating alongside a guy with about a quarter of a season's worth of experience at the NHL level.
John Carlson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Which Capital skater was on the ice for each of Jersey's four goals? You get three guesses and the first two don't count. Granted, Carlson wasn't particularly bad on any of the four (other than the shorty), and he was on the ice for three Caps tallies, but his uneven season continues to inch in the wrong direction - only Jason Pominville has been on the ice for more goals-against among NHL skaters.
John Erskine http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Paired with Carlson and yielding similar results... with a bit more culpability both on (two goals-against) and off the ice (he was in the box when Jersey scored the game-winner on Thursday). Oh, and he and Carlson each had Delay of Game penalties on Sunday, so yeah... similar results.
Mike Green http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Took warm-ups before both games but wasn't able to go for either, which presumably means he's close to a return... but even a three-game absence with a lower-body injury is more than Caps fans are completely comfortable with for Green.
Roman Hamrlik http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Last played when Neuvirth did. If not for Tomas Kundratek's ice time, the Czech embassy might be ready to lodge a formal complaint.
Jack Hillen http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png One day when I was chillin' in Kentucky Fried Chicken - just mindin' my business, eatin' food and finger lickin' - this dude walked in lookin' strange and kind of funny, went up to the front with a menu and his money. He didn't walk straight - kind of side to side - he asked this old lady, "Yo, yo, um...is this Kentucky Fried?" The lady said, "Yeah," smiled and he smiled back. He gave a quarter and his order: small fries, Big Mac. You be Hillen.
Tomas Kundratek http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Why yes, Tomas Kundratek does have as many power-play points this season as Mike Green, John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov combined. Who didn't see that coming? Kundratek was on the ice for three Caps goals this week (picking up an assist on Sunday) and nary a goal-against while playing in the top defensive-pair. That'll do.
Dmitry Orlov http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Still skating, still not taking contact, still badly needed in D.C.
Tom Poti http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Poti had a quietly decent two games as he likely awaits a return to the press box when Green is ready to go.
Jeff Schultz http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png An assist and no goals-against in two games for a guy who seems to be settling in as an overpaid third-pairing defenseman.
Forwards
Nicklas Backstrom http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Picked up single secondary assists in each game (giving him five points in his last five games), but has registered just one shot on goal in his last three outings. And while his offense isn't where we'd expect it to be (due in part to his linemates), Backstrom is playing solid defense (notably on New Jersey's 5-on-3's) and winning draws (60% over the last seven games), so he's still finding ways to contribute.
Jay Beagle http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Any time a fourth-line center - who leads the team's forwards in shorthanded ice time - has a plus-two total goal differential for the week, it's a really good thing. Beagle also won 15 of the 19 draws he took (nine of 11 in the defensive zone; 72% overall in the last six games) and pulled a fast one on the zebras, which was nice (though the underlying penalty wasn't).
Troy Brouwer http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Assisted on both Caps goals on Thursday (and got tagged with a misconduct for venting at the refs when the final buzzer sounded) and scored one of his own on Saturday. Of note, all three of Brouwer's points came on the power play (as have seven of his last nine and eight of his 12 points on the season), as his line has had trouble generating offense at even-strength of late.
Jason Chimera http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Picked up his seventh assist of the season on Saturday, but is still looking for his first goal... and riding shotgun on the top line as he continues that search. Besides the obvious drop-off in his shooting percentage from last year, Chimera is also shooting less - down from a career-high 2.5 shots per game in 2011-12 to 1.8 so far this season.
Joey Crabb http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Don't think of Crabb as a fourth-liner who didn't play a second of special teams time this week, hasn't had a point since the second game of the season, has fewer shots on goal in ten February games than Alex Ovechkin had on Saturday, and skated as many shifts in two games as fellow fourth-liner Matt Hendricks did in either one. Instead, think of the fact that he's getting a sweater every night as a representation of how little depth this organization has up front right now.
Eric Fehr http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Scored the first short-handed goal of his career on Saturday and spent the day bumped up to the second line. Next stop, a room in the penthouse apartment with Ovechkin and Ribeiro?
Matt Hendricks http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png If you thought "Ovechkin from Hendricks" on Saturday was an unlikely goal-producing combo, you're right - it was the first of the captain's (then) 346 goals on which Hendricks has picked up a helper, "Hendricks from Ovechkin" has happened just once (but recently - four games earlier), and the two each assisted on a Scott Hannan goal in March of 2011. The more you know.
Marcus Johansson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Needs to get healthy and get his career back on track, stat. And if he can't crack this lineup...
Brooks Laich http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Thought exercise: how many more points would the Caps have right now if Laich was healthy from the start of the season?
Alex Ovechkin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png For five of the six periods the Caps played this week, Alex Ovechkin was the best skater on the ice (and the one in which he wasn't was the only period in which they were outscored, the penalty-plagued third on Thursday night). Ovechkin had the hat trick (and an assist) on Saturday, and between the two games registered 11 shots on goal (and another ten not on-goal) and nine hits, and was on the ice for six of the seven goals the team scored (and two of the four they allowed). Maybe that whole "shift to right wing" thing is working out, as he scored twice and drew a couple of penalties at even-strength.
Mathieu Perreault http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Scored on his only shot of the week (and he has just one multi-shot game this season) and wasn't on the ice for any goals-against, which is a plus. But if we're talking "bonus," how about a face-off percentage of 56% on the season, including 67% in the last four games?
Mike Ribeiro http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Ho-hum, a goal and two assists in two games. No Cap has been on the ice for more goals-for than Ribeiro (26), who now has seven multi-point games and has been held scoreless just four times.
Joel Ward http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Ward has gone three games without a point and five without a goal... but has also only been on the ice for two goals-against in his last eight games (and six goals-for during that span), five goals-against all season (and 14 goals-for), and no power-play goals-against in more than 20 minutes of penalty-killing ice time.
Wojtek Wolski http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Hit what has to be a personal rock-bottom for the season when he somehow fired a shot at an open net wide from inside the crease. Wolski has now gone eight games without a point, a fact which is barely mitigated by his low salary.
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