Capital Ups and Downs: Week 17

Elsa

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
Braden Holtby http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Basically misplayed two pucks all week and they both found their way into the back of the net against Ottawa. But that's all that did, as Holtby went 1-1-0/1.01/.957 in two games, picking up both the shutout win and, more importantly, confidence in Montreal. It's premature to say "he's back," but it's certainly not premature to say that the Caps' playoff hopes likely rest on that being the case.
Michal Neuvirth http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Unfortunately for Neuvirth, "good not great" usually isn't good enough for a goalie when his team is having near-generational struggles to score goals. Neuvirth was strong against the Devils, stopping 28 of the 30 shots he faced, but it wasn't enough to eke out even a single point. On most nights, however, it will be.
Defensemen
Karl Alzner http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Pretty boring week for Alzner watchers, which is probably alright with them, as they likely had paint drying and grass growing to watch as well.
John Carlson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Skated big minutes (including 14-plus on the penalty kill) and wasn't on the ice for a single goal-against while tying his career high with his ninth goal of the season on Hockey Night in Canada. Something tells me he's going to set a new high soon (hopefully real soon).
Connor Carrick http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Carrick was on the ice for both Senators goals (with both goals coming off the stick of a player to whom he was the closest Cap) and one of the Devils' markers (on which he didn't exactly distinguish himself), which means he was on the ice and in the play on 75% of the goals the Caps allowed last week (and 50% of the Caps' six tallies, for what it's worth).
John Erskine http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Fresh off his first point since October 22 - an assist on Friday night - Erskine notched his first goal of the campaign on Saturday evening. And while Ovechkin's opening score was the eventual game-winner, Erskine's just over a minute later was the game-clincher - the Caps are now 12-0 in regular season games in which Erskine has scored a goal.
Mike Green http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png A pretty secondary assist on the Beagle goal in Montreal will do nothing to silence the critics who advocate the team trading their two-time Norris finalist, but, well... you know.
Jack Hillen http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png It sounds as if Hillen could be ready to go after the Olympic break, which is a pretty impressive feat of rehabilitation and great for Hillen... though it's unclear what it will mean for the team.
Dmitry Orlov http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Led the team in five-on-five ice time for the week, but didn't do much with it, either in terms of possession or production, but that latter point is going to change soon. Says so right here.
Nate Schmidt http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/569564/hershey-kiss.png Recalled, not particularly good against Ottawa, scratched against Jersey, returned to Hershey Saturday. All in a week's work.
Forwards
Nicklas Backstrom http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Is the fact that Backstrom has just one point (an assist) in his last eight games a cause or result of the Caps' offensive woes? Yes. This is a guy on whom the Caps depend to pull them out of slumps (including that 1-for-32 on the power play), and Backstrom hasn't really done that... yet.
Jay Beagle http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Was probably the best Cap on the ice on Friday night (which is a bit of damning by faint praise) and carried his strong play north to Montreal where he was rewarded with his first goal of the season.
Troy Brouwer http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Another alleged "big gun" who's firing blanks of late, Brouwer hasn't scored in his last 11 games and has just one power-play goal since November 9 (is he due or is it time to switch things up?).
Jason Chimera http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png When Chimera scored the Caps' only goal on Friday night, it was his third in seven games and made him one of three Caps forwards to find the back of the net over that span (Ovechkin, whose goal Chimera set up on Saturday night, had three tallies and Laich one). On a team loaded with disappointments, Chimera - scoring at a career-best points-per-game pace - hasn't been one.
Martin Erat http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Broke a string of three-straight games with a penalty (five total and four in the offensive zone) with a clean sheet on Saturday night, added two assists in that win. If Erat's season were to end today, he'd set an NHL record for most assists in a season by a forward without a goal, but focus on that "most assists" part... because he's leading the team in 'em at five-on-five, both in terms of raw number (despite limited minutes and mixed deployments) and rate. When the autopsy on this season is done, there will be questions aplenty regarding Erat's usage.
Eric Fehr http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Like most of his teammates, Fehr has hit the skids, only finding his way onto the scoresheet in one of his last 13 games. The Caps aren't dependent upon Fehr stepping up, but they are dependent upon someone(s) doing so, and it sure wouldn't hurt if Fehr did.
Mikhail Grabovski http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Hopefully the Graboo-boo that kept him out of Saturday night's game isn't serious, because the Caps' playoff hopes certainly dim if they're without their second-line center for any significant length of time (even if he's pointless in his last five games, has just one helper in his last seven, hasn't scored a goal in eight, and unleashed a bit of the crazy on Tuesday).
Marcus Johansson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Johansson's breakout campaign has gone off the rails a bit as he's riding a nine-game goalless streak (a span during which he's provided assists in just two outings) at a time when the team has been desperate for offense at both even-strength and with the extra man.
Brooks Laich http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Wasn't on the ice for a single goal-against last week (including ten minutes of penalty-killing time), and had an assist and a plus-three rating in Montreal. Depending on his role going forward, play like that could constitute a pretty solid week for Laich.
Alex Ovechkin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Missed the Sens and Devils games with a lower-body ailment, but returned to lead the team to victory with a highlight reel goal and gorgeous primary assist against the Canadiens, essentially singlehandedly authoring twice as many goals in one game as the team scored in two games without him. Does anyone really still wonder why this guy wins Harts?
Aaron Volpatti http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png A non-factor against the Sens and Devs, and a non-player against the Habs as the Caps' lone healthy scratch.
Joel Ward http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Despite just one point in his past seven games (an assist in Montreal), Ward is still scoring goals and registering points at a career-best pace. Like Chimera, on the long list of 2013-14 Caps problems, Ward's name doesn't come up until pretty far down the page.
Casey Wellman http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Recalled from Hershey to go when Grabovski couldn't on Saturday night, Wellman provided the icing on the Caps' slump-busting cake, converting an Ovechkin feed on a two-on-one break and vaulting past Peter Bondra on the franchise's all-time goals-per-game ledger.
Tom Wilson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Had a couple of over-zealous (and/or reputational) penalties against the Devils, but also had an assist in that game and added one against the Habs (a game in which he arguably set the tone with an early fight against Brandon Prust) giving Wilson points in back-to-back games for the second time this season.
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