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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 5

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Braden Holtby Thrown into the third period of a tied game with a surging Bruins team for his first NHL appearance, he responded with a four-save relief win. Thrown out against the Flyers two days later for his first NHL start, he responded with a 23-for-25 effort.
Michal Neuvirth Maybe the workload caught up to him. Maybe he's a little dinged up. Maybe he just had a couple of off nights. Maybe he's regressing to a more realistic level of play. Whatever it was, it was a rough week for the reigning Rookie of the Month (1-0-0/3.65/.833), but nothing about which to get too worried.
Semyon Varlamov Potentially ready to play this week, but we'll believe it when we see it.
Karl Alzner Solid if unspectacular (highlighted by nearly five minutes of perfect penalty-killing on the week). Lather, rinse, repeat.
John Carlson Had a point in each of the first two games this week (snapping a six-game scoreless spell), including Friday night's game-winner, and was on the ice for four goals-for and just two against (a category in which he still leads the team). Seems worlds more comfortable when Green's in the lineup and what's asked of him is a bit more realistic.
John Erskine Erskine continues to provide solid 3rd-pairing minutes (~12 per night). As long as not much more is asked of him, there's no reason to think that won't continue.
Brian Fahey Played sparingly against the Leafs before being returned to Hershey and wasn't on the ice for a goal against, so that's a step in the right direction.
Mike Green With goals in four straight games, Green has helped reignite the Caps' power play (7-for-17 over those four games). And while he struggled a bit defensively against Toronto (on the ice for all four goals against), he still ended the week on the right side of the ledger in terms of goal differential, as he was on the ice for half of the dozen goals the team scored (and five they gave up).
Tom Poti If you look at the record (9-1-0), you'd think the team doesn't miss Poti. You'd be wrong.
Jeff Schultz Like Green, Sarge had a tough night against the Leafs, but a strong (though relatively nondescript) week otherwise.
Tyler Sloan Scored his first goal in nearly a year on Friday night, but his minutes are dwindling - in his last four full games, his time on ice has gone from 16:28 to 16:08 to 13:28 to 10:45. Writing, meet wall.
Nicklas Backstrom Held off the score sheet against the Leafs, Backstrom responded with back-to-back two-assist efforts. And while the helpers are certainly nice, Nick needs to look to shoot a bit more in order to help free up his linemates with the threat of his shot.
Matt Bradley Has just two shots on goal in his last seven games... but he's firing 50% over that span, so there's that.
Jason Chimera Scored against Toronto and seems to have found some chemistry with Boyd Gordon and Eric Fehr on the third line.
Eric Fehr Responded to being scratched with a goal, an assist, nine shots on goal, and some healthy jawing with Milan Lucic for the week.
Tomas Fleischmann Goal, assist, bad faceoffs... next.
Boyd Gordon Had points in back-to-back games for the first time since March to start the week, and ended it with a plus-two rating.
Matt Hendricks Not getting much ice time and not doing much with what he's getting.
Marcus Johansson Rehabbing in Hershey, so a return to the Washington lineup can't be too far off (though it probably hinges somewhat on how Gordon, Fleischmann and Steckel play).
D.J. King Didn't they get this guy to play against the Flyers? Perhaps his bad minus-2 against Toronto made him unplayable for the time being.
Mike Knuble Still hasn't scored since opening night, but is getting his shots and going to the places he needs to go to score goals. It's only a matter of time... we hope.
Brooks Laich Left Sunday's game with an undisclosed injury, but was on the ice for five Caps goals (registering two assists) and none against for the week up to that point. On the season, no Cap has a better goal differential than Laich's plus-15.
Alex Ovechkin Another five-point week (one goal, four assists) for Ovi that leaves us wanting more. More hustle, more hitting, more backchecking... we're awfully demanding (and justifiably so - there's more to winning hockey than racking up points).
Alexander Semin Semin has goals in four-straight games, is playing both ends of the ice, killing penalties and tormenting opposing defenders and goalies.
David Steckel Of the nine goals the Caps allowed this week, Steckel was on the ice for six of them (two of which came on the penalty kill) and finished the three-game set with a minus-four rating. He has now been a minus player in seven of the 12 games he's played this season and has a personal minus-10 goal differential, by far the worst on the team.

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