Capital Ups and Downs: Week 21

Photo by Clyde Caplan/clydeorama.com

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 Tagged with a hard-luck loss in relief of Holtby on Wednesday night in Philly (after having been recalled on an emergency basis earlier in the day following the Michal Neuvirth trade), stopping 10 of the 11 shots he faced in 28 minutes and giving the Caps a chance to nearly dig out of the huge hole in which they'd found themselves. With Neuvirth gone, Grubauer would appear likely ticketed for a full season in Washington next year.
Jaroslav Halak http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Stopped 31 of 33 shots (and got some help on one of those saves) in his Capitals debut, keeping the team in the game long enough for them to mount their improbable comeback. It's hard to see him not getting the bulk of work down the stretch as long as the games still matter, so... in Jaro we trust.
Braden Holtby http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Not as bad as his numbers looked against the Flyers and rebounded with a terrific effort in a loss to the Bruins the next night, but it's that inconsistency, in part, that made Halak an attractive option to GMGM. Just how much faith the team still has in Holtby remains to be seen, but it's probably more than most onlookers would guess.
Defensemen
Karl Alzner http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Two Caps skaters were on the ice for more goals-for than goals-against, and Alzner was one of them. Not only that, but on the three goals-for, Alzner picked up an assist against Philly (his second career power-play point) and then started the comeback against Phoenix with a seeing-eye shot that found the top left corner of the cage behind Mike Smith.
John Carlson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Throw out the two empty net goals-against and Carlson was even for the week with a pair of power-play points and on for two power-play goals-against. He and Alzner will have their work cut out for them with a pair of games against the Pens to kick off the week.
Connor Carrick http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Carrick is simply overmatched at the NHL level right now, and sending him out against the Bruins with Schilling as his defensive partner yielded predictably terrible results, namely the two Boston goals (one and two) that weren't put into an empty net. For the week, Carrick didn't break 27% in any of the three major possession metrics in close situations at five-on-five, or 36% in five-on-five overall, meaning that at fives, two-thirds of shots went towards the Caps' cage with Carrick on the ice (three-quarters when the games were in doubt). Not good.
John Erskine http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Got jumped by three Flyers and missed the rest of the week, but should be ready to return soon if called upon.
Mike Green http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Had a goal and an assist in Philadelphia, but no Cap was on the ice for more goals-against last week than Green (six, which includes the two emptynetters and four at five-on-five). Frankly, Green is playing like a guy who's disappointed that he didn't get traded at the deadline, as his focus has seemed to be off, even for him.
Jack Hillen http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Made it all the way back to the NHL after his horrific injury in Game 2 of the season, and even picked up an assist, so good on Hillen... but bad on the Caps, who had no choice but to throw him into the top-four for a couple of games. Hillen's a better story than player at the moment, as the Caps were only able to muster 15.8% of the shots on goal taken while Hillen was on the ice at five-on-five in close situations (three of 19 in 21 minutes) last week.
Dmitry Orlov http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Served out his two-game suspension and didn't do much in his return Saturday night (though he did draw a penalty to put the Caps on the power play on which they scored the eventual game-winner). Hopefully he can make amends for his mistakes with stellar play down the stretch.
Cameron Schilling http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/569564/hershey-kiss.png Returned to Hershey after a rough night in Boston in his second career NHL game (paired with "seasoned veteran" Carrick). The Caps have gotten good performances on the blueline from call-ups this season (Patrick Wey and Julien Brouillette come to mind); this was not one of them.
Forwards
Nicklas Backstrom http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Three assists in three games (including the primary on Saturday night's game-winner), and a couple of strong face-off performances after a run of four-straight sub-40% efforts make for a decent week for Backstrom, who now gets a couple of shots at matching up with two of the world's best pivots.
Jay Beagle http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Beagle was at or above 50% in the possession metrics, wasn't on the ice for a five-on-five goal-against (just two power-play tallies), won 59% of his 32 draws and picked up an assist on the Alzner goal Saturday night. Yes, Jay Beagle.
Troy Brouwer http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Was the Caps' best possession player for the week, was the Caps' only forward to be on the ice for more goals-for than -against, scored to pull the Caps to within one against Philly and then potted the game-winning goal against Phoenix. Brouwer's really just playing some good hockey right now.
Chris Brown http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/569564/hershey-kiss.png Acquired in the Martin Erat trade on Wednesday, Brown made his Caps debut on Thursday against the Bruins and didn't do much other than get dominated in terms of puck possession. But there may be more "there" there for a former second-round pick that has scored a bit in the AHL.
Jason Chimera http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Had a three-game assist streak snapped against the B's, but started a new one against the 'Yotes, winning a battle on the boards and feeding a beautiful pass to Laich in front. That's the good. The bad? Chimera's possession stats, low-lighted by the fact that in 13 minutes of close five-on-five play with Chimera on the ice, the Caps and their opponents combined for 24 shot attempts, only one of which belonged to Washington. Granted, small sample... but yikes.
Eric Fehr http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Struggled centering the third line, but then again... he's not a center. (He did look better on the wing on the fourth line, picking up an assist on that Alzner goal.) It'll be interesting to see where Fehr fits into the lineup going forward, especially if by some miracle the team actually gets healthy.
Mikhail Grabovski http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Doesn't sound close to a return, which stinks. But if there's a silver lining, perhaps it's that he'll be more affordable this summer. Yeah, that's a reach.
Marcus Johansson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Speaking of "where does he fit in?" with Evgeny Kuznetsov now a Washington Capital and Dustin Penner in town, Johansson seems destined for second-line center in the short-term and, if Grabovski gets healthy... who knows?
Brooks Laich http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Scored a huge goal to draw the Caps within one in Philly and tied the game against Phoenix, but was unable to go in Boston. This is pretty much the new norm with Laich. Well, except the goal-per-game part.
Alex Ovechkin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png We're going to go ahead and ding Ovechkin here, despite a goal and an assist against the Flyers (his only points for the week) and the fact that he was only on the ice for two non-empty-net goals-against for the week (and three Caps goals, all on the power-play). Ovechkin's possession numbers weren't good (that Boston game killed everyone), and he now has just two even-strength goals in his last dozen games, one since the Olympic break (and his team snapped a three-game even-strength goal-less drought late Saturday night). He needs to find a way to create more offense at evens... because he sure ain't gettin' it done at the other end. Here's betting that starts tonight.
Dustin Penner http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Acquired from Anaheim on Tuesday evening, Penner looks like a super fit on paper. Now it's time for that to translate onto the ice.
Ryan Stoa http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Ryan Stoa played all three games last week? Huh.
Aaron Volpatti http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png There couldn't possibly be less of a rush to get Volpatti back in the lineup (but that doesn't mean we don't want him to get better, because we do).
Joel Ward http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Nothing on the scoresheet and bad numbers underlying the nothing. Probably just a bump in the road in a career year.
Tom Wilson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Helped ignite the mayhem in Philadelphia on Wednesday night, but did little else of note for the week. Why do we get the feeling, though, that we'll be provided with a signature Tom Wilson Moment tonight or tomorrow?
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