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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 13

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth With another light week ahead and a white-hot netminder in front of him at present, it'll be interesting to see when Neuvy will get his first game since losing in a shootout to the Pens on December 23.
Semyon Varlamov Pitched a 25-save shutout against the Habs and followed it up with a 32-for-33 effort in the Winter Classic win, earning first star honors in both games. Varly's now 3-0-1/1.23/.957 in his last four starts, 7-3-1/1.77/.939 on the season if you ignore the blowout loss at MSG, and in the top ten in the League in GAA and SV% even if you include that stinker.
Karl Alzner On Tuesday, Alzner and Carlson were tasked with stopping the Canadiens' top line and on Saturday they had the same assignment against the Pens. Total points against the Caps this week for Tomas Plekanec, Mike Cammalleri, Andrei Kostitsyn, Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz: 0. King Karl (who had a helper against the Habs) is plus-eight in his last eight games and hasn't been a minus in any of them. And he rocked a sweet Winter Classic beard.
John Carlson See above. Also, Carlson has the best five-on-five goals against per sixty among the team's blueliners (just ahead of partner Alzner) while playing against the second-toughest competition (right behind Alzner). Throw in the fact that he hasn't been on the ice for an opponent's power-play goal in his last nine games while playing the second-most man-down minutes on the team, and yeah... he's having a pretty nice rookie season defensively (to say nothing of his offensive production).
John Erskine Fell a goal shy of a Winter Classic Gordie Howe Hat Trick and was solid in both games this week (though if he and his teammates had made a cleaner line change early in the second period in Pittsburgh, we might have been talking about a perfect week for Varly).
Mike Green Quietly riding a four-game point streak that includes a goal against the Habs and a helper against the Pens (to go along with five hits). Of note, he also had six shots on goal in that Montreal game and played a whopping 4:56 of perfect penalty-killing (part of his 16:45 of special teams ice time on the night). If he's primed for a big second-half, lookout, League.
Scott Hannan After a well-documented rocky start to his Caps career, Hannan has turned it around and now has only been on the ice for one goal against in his last four games, and none in the two this week.
Tom Poti Has played just 18 of the Caps' 40 games so far. Silver lining: the 33-year-old Poti will be fresher in April... assuming, of course, he can get healthy
Jeff Schultz Returned to the lineup ahead of schedule and didn't miss a beat (though he is in the third-pairing, for the moment, as the Green-Hannan duo is in a groove). And while Sarge can hardly take all the credit, it's worth noting that the team is allowing more than a quarter-of-a-goal more per game when he's not in the lineup this season (2.78 versus 2.52).
Tyler Sloan Continues to wait... and wait... and wait.
Keith Aucoin Recalled to face Montreal and did, well, nothing, despite getting more time on the power-play (5:54) than at even-strength (5:53).
Nicklas Backstrom A helper on the Caps' first goal on Saturday night gave Backstrom assists in back-to-back games for the first time since before the losing streak, which, coincidentally, is when he scored his last goal.
Jay Beagle Was fantastic against the Habs (netting the game-winner and second-star honors), and feisty against the Pens, doubling his season-to-date hit total with four hits. Still, it'll be tough for him to stick with the big club as guys get healthy.
Matt Bradley If there's one thing the Winter Classic needed more of... well, you know.
Jason Chimera Chimera has come alive, posting back-to-back plus-2's (that's four of the six goals the Caps scored for the week), buzzing on a third line with Marcus Johansson and Eric Fehr, and breaking that woeful 18-game assist-less streak with a beauty of an apple on the insurance tally in Pitt.
Eric Fehr Like Chimera, Fehr was plus-four for the week. Unlike Chimera, Fehr scored twice - you might have seen the goals on Saturday night - and did so while getting just 14 shifts against the Pens. F16 now has three goals and two assists (one-third of his production for the season) in his last four games.
Andrew Gordon Returned to Hershey after skating 8:22 against the Habs. Close, but no Classic.
Boyd Gordon Officially "day-to-day" with a foot infection. Yummy.
Matt Hendricks Did you know that Hendricks hasn't been a plus in a game since November? Nonetheless, he continues to be an effective checker and welcome sandpaper.
Marcus Johansson Missed the Montreal game, but shone on the big stage against Pittsburgh, setting up the game-winner and at least one other golden opportunity (which ended as the Chimera wrap-around), winning half of his 12 draws, and getting credit for as many hits as Ovechkin, Erskine and Chimera had combined.
D.J. King Still injured (we assume) and not playing (we know).
Mike Knuble Scored the critical "next goal" with the Caps down 1-0 to the Pens, but then again of course he did - Knuble now has six goals in six games as a Cap against the Pens, and 29 goals in 59 games when playing Pittsburgh in his career. Also of note, Knuble is now on a 35-goal/82-game pace over his last 14 games, so that slow start would seem to be a thing of the past.
Brooks Laich No points, just three shots on goal, and a questionable penalty at a big time in the Pens game would earn Laich a down arrow... if this was a week in which we were handing out any.
Alex Ovechkin Averaging six shots on goal over his last four games, it's only a matter of time before AO catches fire, as his shooting percentage can't stay more than four points below his career mark forever... right?
Mathieu Perreault Returned from having his nose broken thanks to the amazing healing powers of the Winter Classic and found himself getting prime power-play time - more than anyone other than Green and Ovechkin. Interesting.
Alexander Semin Make it an even dozen games in a row without a goal for Semin (his longest drought since a 12-gamer back at the beginning of 2006-07), who is now on pace for a 39-goal season after entering December with 18 goals in 25 games (a 59-goal pace). We'd say it's not for a lack of trying, but he only had three shots on goal in the last two games (and only attempted another four). Oh, and he was the only Cap this week to be on the ice for more goals allowed than scored, which is hard to do when the team gives up just one goal. Guess we fibbed about "no down arrows."
David Steckel An otherwise nondescript week will be best remembered for this. Intentional or not (and it's pretty clearly the latter), it won't soon be forgotten by our friends from Western PA.

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