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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 9

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<em>Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images</em>
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth Started (for the first time in nearly two weeks) in Dallas, and was good (two goals allowed on 21 shots against), but would no doubt want back the one that got away - a long-range knuckling wrister from Brandon Segal that beat Neuvy clean just 20 seconds after the Caps had tied the game at one in the third period.
Semyon Varlamov Phenomenal against St. Louis (stopping 37 of 38 shots in the win), human against Atlanta (30 of 33 in the loss), but still lights-out overall since returning from injury, to the tune of 4-1-0/1.58.
Karl Alzner Minus-one with no points for the week (and that makes nine-straight games without an appearance on the score sheet), but played a perfect 6:39 shorthanded and had his first three-SOG game of the season (fifth in his career) on Thursday, and followed it up with another on Saturday.
John Carlson A couple of secondary (even-strength) helpers and 7:22 of scoreless penalty-killing this week for the rookie time-on-ice leader, who also got 2:34 of power-play time on Saturday. Of course, perhaps he should have had a goal this week as well...
John Erskine His week was off to a great start with an assist, five hits and a plus-2 rating in St. Louis, but he got hurt against Dallas and was unable to play against Atlanta. Erskine has had an outstanding (for him) start to the season, but with the acquisition of Scott Hannan now finds himself as the odd man out when everyone on the blueline is healthy (if and when that ever happens).
Mike Green Green had just one point for the week (a beautiful power-play set-up of Mike Knuble on the Caps' only tally in Dallas) and was on the ice for both power-play goals the team allowed. Perhaps most disappointingly, the Caps scored just once in 56:48 at even-strength with Green on the ice this week.
Scott Hannan It's a little early to be passing judgment on The New Guy, but here are his numbers through two games: 0 points, 0 SOG, minus-1, 2 PIMs, 4 hits, 5 blocked shots, 28:08 TOI, and the big one - 5:27 of scoreless shorthanded time.
Tom Poti Injured? Get. Out. But hey, he's hopeful that he can play tonight, so there's that.
Jeff Schultz His defensive numbers were pretty much the same as Green's this week - on the ice for both power-play goals against and one at even-strength - but since no offense is expected from him, Sarge gets no down arrow. Though if I have to see Saturday night's Andrew Ladd goal again, I might not be so kind...
Tyler Sloan Got a sweater on Saturday night, but those nights will likely be few and far between going forward (especially if he makes a habit out of being beaten out of the corner like he was on Alexander Burmistrov's goal).
Nicklas Backstrom Splendid in St. Loo (two goals, one assist, plus-2), but scoreless the rest of the week and just 43.9% successful in the dot over the three games.
Matt Bradley Not much to report, but to put Brads' ice time in perspective (no Cap who has played in eight or more games is averaging less), he played just 1:24 less than in three games this week than Alex Ovechkin played on Saturday night.
Jason Chimera With no points and a minus-one in each game this week (and one goal in his last 16 games), Chimera is now at his worst goals- and points-per game rate since before the lockout and is on pace for 11 goals and 17 assists. Pretty disappointing numbers, but the effort and sacrifice are still there.
Eric Fehr Goal-less in seven games (and with just one in his last 14, two in his last 24), Fehr is lucky to be playing every night right now. Put another way, if he fails to score in his next game, his two-goals-in-25-games will match his totals from his first two NHL seasons (and at least then, he was a plus-three, as opposed to his current team-worst minus-5). That's, um, not good.
Boyd Gordon Scored that elusive first goal of the season (and a game-winner at that) in St. Louis and won 63.6% of his draws for the week, but was on the ice for the Burmistrov and Ladd goals against Atlanta, the latter coming just seconds after Gordon lost a defensive-zone faceoff to Nik Antropov.
Matt Hendricks Had a fight in Dallas, but hasn't scored a goal in ten games. However (and more importantly), Hendricks hasn't been on the ice for a goal against in his last six games (which included 3:40 of shorthanded ice time this past week).
Marcus Johansson Was on the ice for both goals in Dallas and failed to register a point in three games (with just two shots on goal on the week and none during the 46-shot barrage Saturday night).  Yep, the Caps are still looking for a second-line center.
D.J. King King got into a game this week and got on the scoreboard, assisting on the game-winning Gordon tally on Wednesday night. That point - his first as a Cap - put him ahead of Gordon, Fehr, Knuble and Steckel in points-per-sixty-minutes at 5-on-5. Good enough for an up arrow in my book.
Mike Knuble An apple in St. Louis, a grape in Dallas... keep Knubs on the top line and more fruit will follow.
Brooks Laich Scored on Wednesday, but - not breaking news - isn't the answer at second-line center, as he demonstrated on Thursday.
Alex Ovechkin Got the monkey off his back with a goal on Saturday night to break a nine-game goal-less streak (which was actually 11, if you don't want to count a shot that were going wide that the opposing goalie redirected into his own net), but is still scoring goals at by far the worst per-game rate of his career. And as for all the "now he's a playmaker" talk, while it's true that his assist totals are impressive, his assists/60 at 5-on-5 are actually down significantly this year as compared to last season, and twice as many of his power-play helpers have come on secondary assists this season (whereas last year he had more primaries). Does that really sounds like a vastly improved playmaker to you?
Alexander Semin A goal-less week (gasp!) that ended with him watching from the bench with the goalie pulled on Saturday. Wonder if that sends the desired message to the League's third-leading goal-scorer.
David Steckel Scratched against St. Louis, Steckel responded with... well, not a whole lot. In fact, he didn't even get a second of penalty-killing time against the Thrashers... but that's only because he was in the box for the only two Atlanta power-plays on the night.

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