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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 17

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Braden Holtby With 28 saves on 29 shots against through overtime, Holtby certainly played well enough to beat the Rangers (but didn't), and has now given up just one goal in each of the three games he's started since his most recent recall, stopping 87 shots along the way (2-0-1/0.97/.967).
Michal Neuvirth Neuvirth has only started three games (and finished just two of those) since December 23.
Semyon Varlamov Returned to action against the Thrashers and stopped 23 of the 24 shots he faced, but lost his fourth-straight decision (a 219-minute span over which he's posted a 2.47 goals against average and a .924 save percentage, but received only four goals of support from the offense in front of him).
Karl Alzner Was defending Marian Gaborik late in the third period of Monday night's game when the puck deflected into the Caps' net off one of the two to tie the game. Unlucky? Sure.
John Carlson With just one goal and three assists in his last 16 games (a five-goal/15-assist 82-game pace), the dip in Carlson's numbers is certainly more caused by than cause of the team's offensive woes, but as his power-play time increases (he skated 4:48 with the extra man in Atlanta), that balance could shift.
John Erskine Wasn't on the ice for either of the two goals the Caps allowed this week and dished out five hits against the Rangers. Hard to ask for much more than that from Erskine, who is within six games-played of his post-lockout high of 52 in a season.
Mike Green Green has gone nine games without a goal and the team has gone 1-for-21 on the power play during that stretch. Coincidence? Not really. And if stats that underscore how brutal the Caps' power play has been are your thing, here's another: Green has just two assists with the extra man in 36 games since October. But he did have a couple of helpers in the All-Star Game, so there's that.
Scott Hannan Another strong week for Hannan (he's now gone 15 games without being on the ice for a four-on-five goal against), highlighted by his first point as a Cap.
Tom Poti Not much to report on the Poti front.
Jeff Schultz Victimized by a bouncing puck in Atlanta that soon found a home behind Semyon Varlamov, Schultz is currently riding a 61-game goal-less streak and coming off the worst plus-minus month of his career (minus-4, tied with March 2009 and November 2007).
Tyler Sloan Who gets a sweater sooner for the Caps - Sloan or Poti? My money's on... Brian Fahey?
Nicklas Backstrom Had a five-game point streak snapped on Monday (though he did score in the shootout) and obviously was point-less in Atlanta on Wednesday, posting back-to-back bagels for the eighth time this season, as many as he had in all of 2009-10.
Jay Beagle Returned to Hershey on Thursday (though perhaps only as a paper transaction), Beagle finished January with no points in 12 games.
Matt Bradley Played for the first time in over a month against the Thrashers and should play a key fourth-line role down the stretch.
Jason Chimera With no points and just one shot on goal in two games, his time on the top line is probably running out.
Eric Fehr Unfortunately for Fehr, his current injury is probably costing him an audition on the top line.
Boyd Gordon Remember when all the Caps had to do was dress Gordon and they'd win?
Matt Hendricks Scored the Caps' only goal last week. Scored the Caps' only goal last week. That's not a typo - I wanted to make sure that sunk in. Anyway, Hendricks - who added a shootout tally against the Rangers to go along with his regulation marker - is now two goals, one point and eight games shy of career-highs (set last year), which is certainly nice, but when a fourth-line grinder is the season's bright spot up front, things aren't going well.
Marcus Johansson If not for his brilliant pass on the Hendricks goal, the Caps might not have scored all week. Throw in a 60% faceoff efficiency (on 20 draws), and we'll give MoJo a soft up arrow.
D.J. King Skated eight shifts against the Rangers and none against the Thrashers, with nearly identical results.
Mike Knuble Not that they were his fault, but Knuble was on the ice for both goals the Caps allowed this week, had the team's worst Corsi against the Rangers, and has been a minus-one in four-straight games (and seven of the last eight). The last time Knuble had as few points (4) in a month in which he played as many games as he did in January (12) was December 2003. Yikes.
Brooks Laich Hasn't been on the ice for a Caps goal in five games, has one goal in his last 18 games, and so on. Hopefully his seven shots on goal in Atlanta are a sign of things to come.
Alex Ovechkin Fired 14 shots on goal in two games, but didn't find the net (or the scoresheet) in either. At least he won the stick-throwing contest at the All-Star Game Skills Competition.
Mathieu Perreault Ended January with one assist (and no goals) in a dozen games, his only helper in the past 23 games and doesn't have a shot on goal in his last four games. Probably could use some time in Hershey to work on his confidence... among other things.
Alexander Semin Sasha got paid. Now it's time for him to prove he's worth it.
David Steckel Steckel had just one assist in January (insert "he's ready for the second line" joke here), and has one goal in his last 29 games. While it's not necessarily his job to provide a lot of offense, at $1.1 million (for this season and for each of the next two), Steckel has to give the team more than he is currently.

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