Capital Ups and Downs: Week 7

USA TODAY Sports

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
Philipp Grubauer http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/569564/hershey-kiss.png An ECHLer not two months ago, Grubauer made his NHL debut coming out of the bullpen on Wednesday night and stopped all 14 Flyer shots he faced in 25 minutes of relief. The German netminder was sent back to Hershey on Thursday, where he can, for the time being, relish his place among the immortal ranks of Corey Hirsch and Mike Rosati as Caps goalies who have never yielded a goal, while awaiting his next taste of action in the best league in the world.
Michal Neuvirth http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png A 24-hour bug rendered him unable to back-up Holtby in Philly, which is unfortunate for Neuvirth, as the relief appearance that went to Grubauer could have been the Czech goaltender's first minutes since getting pulled in Pittsburgh on February 7. Whenever Neuvirth does get that next chance to play, it's incumbent upon him that he takes advantage of it and starts to get his season back on track.
Braden Holtby http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Conventional wisdom says the Caps need to win roughly two out of every three games they play the rest of the way in order to make the playoffs. Last week, Holtby did that almost single-handedly, posting a pair of shutouts (33 and 35 saves) sandwiched around the loss in Philly (from which he was pulled, but in which he wasn't terrible). Oh, and he also scored a new contract along the way. For the week, Holtby was 2-1-0/1.55/.953, and over the span of his nine consecutive starts, he's 6-3-0/2.11/.934 with three shutouts.
Defensemen
Karl Alzner http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Was on the ice for three of the four goals the Caps allowed in Philly (and thus on the week), but this team doesn't post shutouts without Karl Alzner doing his thing. Interesting nugget: no skater has played more minutes this season without an assist than Alzner (420).
John Carlson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Had a goal and an assist against the 'Canes and blocked three shots in each of the week's three games. And while he was on the ice for one of the Flyers' power-play goals, that was the only goal for which he was on in more than an hour of ice time.
John Erskine http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png What on earth has gotten into John Erskine this season? He's playing at career-best rates in goals, points, penalty minutes and per-game ice time, and that relatively strong play is reflected in some advanced stats as well (and was rewarded with a two-year contract extension). Last week, Erskine had the team's best 5-on-5 Corsi rating (+13), a goal against Carolina and perhaps the prettiest assist of his career in Winnipeg, as well as five blocked shots in the 'Peg; no Cap was on the ice for more goals-for (4), and that's with no power-play time. While his PDO says some of that good puck luck will turn (as does the fact that he's a 32-year-old defenseman with more than 400 games played), Big John has unquestionably stepped up his game in 2013.
Mike Green http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Returned to the lineup against Carolina, was on for both Philly even-strength tallies, and then didn't travel to Winnipeg after aggravating his groin injury (and Caps fans and likely management).
Roman Hamrlik http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Has played one game since January 24 (fellow countryman Neuvirth's last game, coincidentally), but has been a good soldier about it (publicly, at least). That's not likely to last.
Jack Hillen http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Today you won a ticket to see Doctor J, front row seat (in free!) no pay. Radio in hand, snacks by feet, game's about to start, you're kickin' popcorn to the beat. You finally wake up, Doc's gone to town - 'round his back, through the hoop, then you scream "Touchdown!" You be Hillen.
Tomas Kundratek http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Kundratek had a rough first two games to the week, possession-wise, but got bumped back up to the top-pairing with the Green injury and was better. Still, he had the worst Corsi rating of any defenseman for the week, something to keep an eye on... even though his stats say "plus-2" for the week.
Dmitry Orlov http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Could Orlov be this year's "trade deadline addition" on the blueline?
Tom Poti http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Poti has gone five games without being on the ice for a goal-against, and he picked up an assist on the shutout-breaker in Philly. But his possession numbers aren't (and weren't) good, despite favorable zone starts.
Jeff Schultz http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Scratched twice, Sarge got back in against the Jets and didn't have much impact on the game. Shocking, I know.
Forwards
Nicklas Backstrom http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Scored his second goal of the season and added an assist in what may have been his best game of the year against Carolina, and had another helper in Winnipeg. And while he's putting up goals and points at a career-worst rate, note his linemates and ask yourself what you'd honestly expect.
Jay Beagle http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Picked up an assist on the goal against the Flyers and hasn't been on the ice for a goal-against in five games. That's good, clean livin'.
Troy Brouwer http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Fired four shots on goal in each of the wins, scoring on one of those shots in Winnipeg for his first five-on-five goal in eight games.
Jason Chimera http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Chimera has been unlucky - seven shots on goal against the Hurricanes and another couple against the Jets to give him 40 shots on goal without a single shot in goal on the season (only five forwards have more ice time on the campaign without a tally... and two are former Caps centers). But he also hasn't been very good.
Joey Crabb http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png No goals. No assists. No points. No shots on goal. No face-offs taken. Minimal special teams time. This isn't a guy who should be in the lineup over Wojtek Wolski... or anyone, really.
Eric Fehr http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png An assist in a win in his return to Winnipeg to play in front of friends and family must've felt nice.
Matt Hendricks http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png No skater had a worse Corsi rating in Philly than Hendricks. The fallout from that rough game? A promotion to the top line, where he'd score the eventual game-winning goal in the 'Peg. That said, Matt Hendricks is a first-line wing in name only... which draws attention to the gaping hole this team has in terms of top-six forwards.
Marcus Johansson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Getting closer to a return to the lineup and, hockey gods willing, productivity.
Brooks Laich http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Could Laich be this year's "trade deadline addition" up front?
Alex Ovechkin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Decent against Carolina (despite not registering a shot on goal), not so much against Philadelphia (perhaps you heard), and good against Winnipeg. But if the Caps are going to have any shot at the playoffs, they need more from their captain. /breakingnews
Mathieu Perreault http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Weeks in which Perreault has more bad penalties (like his goalie interference or retaliatory slash against the Jets) than he has points (an assist against the 'Canes) probably isn't going to be a good week for Perreault. Throw in getting destroyed on a neutral-zone hit late in the Flyers game and yeah, not Perreault's best three-game stretch (though it's worth noting that he hasn't been on the ice for a goal-against in his last five games).
Mike Ribeiro http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Another two-point game for Ribeiro on Saturday gives him eight multi-point efforts this season and just five scoreless outings. Decision time draws near on the pending unrestricted free agent.
Joel Ward http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png His goal in Philly gives him as many in 2013 as he had in 73 games last season, and it's been a half-dozen games since he was on the ice for a goal by the opposition. Ride that PDO wave, JDub (who deserves all the luck he gets, given his solid play so far).
Aaron Volpatti http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Claimed off waivers from Vancouver, Volpatti wasted no time dropping the mittens and taking on (and subsequently getting beaten down by) a bigger opponent in Winnipeg. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Casey Wellman http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/569564/hershey-kiss.png Recalled when Backstrom and Chimera were iffy, but didn't get into a game before heading back to Chocolatetown.
Wojtek Wolski http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Ten games without a point landed Wolski in the press box against the Jets, but is he the Caps' 13th-best forward? Hardly. Wolski has had unfavorable zone starts, a solidly positive Corsi, the highest SFON/60 of any Caps forward... and unsustainably lousy puck luck. Keep playing this guy - the points will come.
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