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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 15

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth Got the two easiest starts of the week for his first action since December 23 and went 1-0-1/2.44/.922, with three of the five goals he allowed coming when the Caps had only three skaters on the ice. Since the last loss of The Streak, Neuvy has gone 3-0-2/1.95/.935, but the three wins have come against the League's two lowest-scoring teams in Ottawa (twice) and Jersey. Does Sunday's win earn him the Flyers game?
Semyon Varlamov Facing two Division-leaders, Varly failed to secure even a single point for the Caps, going 0-2-0/3.02/.917 on the week, with five of the six goals he allowed coming at even strength (though it's hard to blame him for most if not all of those lamp-lighters). Does he get another shot at a Division leader tonight?
Karl Alzner The Caps scored eight goals this week, with seven coming at even strength. Alzner was on the ice for six of those. He was also on for just two goals scored by the opposition, both coming with the Caps down a man or two. That adds up to a plus-six week for King Karl, who added an assist and survived a brutal Milan Michalek cheapshot to boot, while facing opponents' top lines all week whenever Bruce Boudreau could get the match-ups he wanted. Bravo.
John Carlson Plus-three for the week with a game-winning goal and a helper while facing that same top competition while paired with Alzner. Wasn't at his best against the Sens, but we'll take "not at his best, despite scoring the game-winner" every day of the week... and 16 times in the spring.
John Erskine Got his first game since the Winter Classic against the Panthers, and then a couple more to end the week after Tom Poti went down with an injury in Tampa. Played solidly if unspectacularly.
Mike Green Plus-two with an assist against Florida... paired with Scott Hannan. Minus-three with no points the rest of the week... paired with former partner Jeff Schultz. Clearly Boudreau is trying to get Schultz back on track (more on that below), but it seems to be derailing Green in the process. Of course, it's hard to blame Schultz for the Green-quarterbacked power-play that went 1-for-12 on the week.
Scott Hannan Still looking for his first point as a Cap now 20 games in, Hannan continues to provide strong play on the backline, as he now hasn't been on the ice for an even-strength goal against in his past eight games and just one in his past 11.
Tom Poti After a minus-two and an injury in Tampa, we probably need a new "Trending Poti" icon - a red cross with a down arrow on it.
Jeff Schultz In the half-dozen games since the Winter Classic (Schultz's second game back from injury), the Caps have allowed 15 goals (11 at even strength) and Schultz has been on the ice for ten of them, with nine of those coming at five-on-five. This past week, he was on the ice for eight of the 12 goals the team allowed and wasn't on for a single one they scored, resulting in a minus-seven week. Ouch, baby, very ouch.
Tyler Sloan Assigned to Hershey on a conditioning stint. What, is the elevator to the Verizon Center press box out of service?
Nicklas Backstrom Single assists in three of the week's four games and 60.3% in the dot  (including a monstrous 32-for-43 in the two homes games), but he's still not "there" yet, and hasn't scored a goal in his last 20 games.
Jay Beagle Plays hard and plays within his skill set. Unfortunately, that might not be quite up to NHL snuff.
Matt Bradley Sure could use Brads in Philly tonight.
Jason Chimera Scored his second goal since November 20 on Sunday, putting him on the scoresheet with a point for just the third time in his last 25 games. There's no sugar-coating that one (or his awful neutral-zone play on Friday night that led to the first of Daniel Sedin's two goals).  Only Tampa's Adam Hall has as few goals and as many shots on goal as Chimmer among NHL forwards.
Eric Fehr Fired just one shot on goal in the first two-plus games of his week before a collision with David Steckel sidelined him for the next three-to-four weeks (we hope) with a shoulder injury.
Andrew Gordon Played sparingly against Ottawa after being recalled to replace Fehr, but it would be nice if one of the AHL's leading goal-scorers could find the twine at the NHL level a few times during this stint with the big club.
Boyd Gordon Returned from the IR with a helper, a plus-one and a 71.4% faceoff efficiency in three games (including a perfect 8-for-8 on Sunday).
Matt Hendricks Scored the game's first goal against the Canucks and had an assist earlier in the week, but his failure to clear the zone in overtime against the Panthers (and his awful pass on a four-on-one earlier in the game) costs him an up arrow this week.
Marcus Johansson With two goals in Sunrise and another at home against Vancouver, Johansson was the team's most productive forward as well as its best on the week. He was on the ice for five of the eight goals the team scored (and only two against) and  fired 11 shots on goal. Now the big question is whether to play him at center or on the wing.
D.J. King Could tonight be King's first game since December 6?
Mike Knuble Scored against the Panthers but followed it up with three-straight point-less minus-1's.
Brooks Laich Had a pair of assists over the first three games of the week and then scored just his second even-strength goal (and fourth overall) in 31 games on Sunday, but the League's best defensive forward was on the ice for five goals against this week, three of which came at even-strength. We'll see how long he sticks on the top line with Ovechkin and Johansson, as the trio seemed to have some chemistry against Ottawa.
Alex Ovechkin A no-goals/one-assist week for Ovechkin is disappointing, even by this season's standards, but "[t]he most important thing for [him] and the organization now is not to be MVP and scoring leader. It's for [him] to help bring the championship to Washington." While true, of course, the fact of the matter is that without some of the former, the latter ain't happening, and it starts with power-play production - the Caps have gone 124 power-plays (and fired 222 shots with the extra man) without an Ovechkin power-play goal. That simply will not do.
Mathieu Perreault No forward was on the ice for more goals against this week than Perreault, and, unlike Laich (who was also on for five opposition tallies), all of the goals scored while Perreault was on the ice came at even-strength. The diminutive pivot was also not on the ice for a single Caps' goal, leaving him with an ugly minus-five to go along with just one shot on goal and four point-less games (bringing his 2010-11 totals to five games in which he has pointed and 14 in which he hasn't).
Alexander Semin The Caps badly miss Semin's creativity and the second-line scoring threat he provides. But then again they missed that for most of December and the beginning of January as well.
David Steckel A 68.2% success rate in the faceoff circle, an assist and plus-one week are solid efforts from Stecks. One bad play - his failure to tie up Sean Bergenheim on Tampa's second goal - cost him an up arrow for the week, because when you're David Steckel, you can't blow assignments in the defensive zone.
Brian Willsie If it wasn't for some dude named Mark Olver, Willsie would have the most points-per-sixty at even strength in the NHL. Oh well. See you in five years, BDub.

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