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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 1

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth A surprise starter in the home opener Saturday night, Neuvirth followed up a fantastic preseason with a solid first outing, turning aside 28 shots (including 18 of 19 at even strength) and earning his first win of the season.
Tomas Vokoun Sat out the first game but will make his Caps' debut - and do so with perhaps a bit of a chip on his shoulder - tonight against the Lightning. 
Karl Alzner Followed up an unspectacular showing in preseason with a much better performance in the first game that "matters", with a couple of hits, a couple of shots, a couple of blocked shots and his first assist of the season vs. the 'Canes.
John Carlson His beauty of a breakout pass to Semin helped kick off the scoring Saturday night (and in Semin's own words, "it was goooood,"), but both of Carolina's power play goals came while he was in the box and he was on the ice for their late game-tying tally. An eventful start to the season, to say the least.
John Erskine Offseason shoulder surgery has him on the injured non-roster list and he's still a little while away from being cleared for contact. Heal up, big guy.
Mike Green Miscommunication between Green and new defensive partner Hamrlik led to Carolina's second power play goal, and his first four shots either missed or were blocked...but he made the fifth one count, striking just over two minutes into overtime to give the Caps the win.
Roman Hamrlik That second Carolina tally aside, Hamrlik's first regular season game as a Cap was a solid one, with just over five minutes of PP and PK time and five - yes, FIVE - blocked shots. For a little perspective, the only other guy on the ice with that many blocked shots is almost 20 years his junior.
Tom Poti Officially moved to LTIR. And that's all she wrote.
Jeff Schultz Made a couple of adventurous passes but was otherwise didn't stand out too much - in a good or bad way - to kick off the season.
Dennis Wideman Had more power play ice time than any blueliner on the team not named Mike Green, picked up an assist on Green's game-winning power play strike and wasn't on the ice for any goals-against.
Nicklas Backstrom Earned an assist on each of the two power play tallies, went 15-for-25 (60%) in the faceoff circle, blocked two shots, fired seven of his own on or toward the net, showed off some vintage Super Swede moves around the net and laid out four hits - including this beauty. Could this be a sign that the old Backstrom showed up this year?
Jay Beagle Had a decent but unmemorable start to the season with just over ten minutes of work against Carolina.
Troy Brouwer Coming into the season, Brouwer was billed as a big body with a physical presence. One game down and he's already got six hits on his record, more than anyone else on either team Saturday (and twice as many as any Hurricane). 
Jason Chimera One-third of what was easily the Caps' best line against the 'Canes, Chimera had a couple of nice chances in close but topped them all with a goal on a semi-breakaway to give the Caps their first lead of the year. And you know when he tells the tale of that goal, it'll be described as a laser to the top shelf...
Jeff Halpern A bit of a shaky return to the District for Halpern, as he went 5-for-12 in the dot and was on the ice for two of Carolina's three goals - including one where he and four of his teammates got caught staring at the puck. We'll chalk it up to first-game jitters (and perhaps a bit of post-Yom Kippur letdown).
Matt Hendricks Rounding out the fourth line, Hendricks was probably the most active of his linemates (at least in terms of the scoresheet) with a couple of hits, a couple of shots, and two faceoff wins on two attempts in an otherwise quiet evening. Which is probably the first time the words "quiet" and "Hendricks" have appeared in the same sentence...
Marcus Johansson A message-sending healthy scratch to kick off the season, but he should be in the lineup tonight. Hope you know what you're doing, Bruce.
D.J. King Actually didn't have a bad preseason, but as the season got underway he was probably right where he should be most nights - the press box. Sorry, D.J.
Mike Knuble Started off the season with a very active and physical night, getting right back into his office and firing a team-high four shots on net (while doling out four hits for good measure). May have better results cleaning up the trash in the crease when his linemates can put more than five shots on goal...
Brooks Laich Cashed in on the power play by doing what he does best - going to the net and collecting a juicy rebound for what should have been the game-winner. Throw in a handful of hits, a handful of shots, a 63% night in the dot, some nice ongoing chemistry with Chimera and Ward and almost seven minutes of PK/PP time...and that's a hell of a start to the season. 
Alex Ovechkin It wasn't the most Ovechkin-esque start to the season, but flying halfway around the world and back within the space of a week and then playing the next night will earn you a pass any time. And he did get an assist on Laich's tally once Bruce (huzzah!) moved him off the point on the power play.
Mathieu Perreault When preseason drew to a close, Boudreau described Perreault as "our best player all of camp" - praise which earned Perreault the second-line center job on opening night over Marcus Johansson. The results were mixed on Saturday, though, as Perreault lacked some of the jump and effectiveness that he'd had in training camp and will likely find himself a healthy scratch tonight.
Alexander Semin After a summer of "he doesn't care" and "he cares" and "who cares if he cares", it was nice to see Semin get down to doing what he does best - feasting on the Carolina Hurricanes. He had an overall excellent first game (aside from that little scuffle at the end of regulation), including a highlight reel-worthy breakaway goal that likely still has Boucher looking for his jock. Good Sasha.
Joel Ward Continued to shine on the "meat and potatoes line", helping to shut down Staal and company at even strength while keeping the pressure on in the offensive zone with some good chances. Ward even turned his Caps' debut into a milestone night by picking up his 100th career point, an assist on Chimera's go-ahead goal in the second period.

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