Our weekly look at individual Washington Capitals' ups and downs:
||Had the best seat in the house for the win over Pittsburgh on Thursday night before heading back to Hershey.
|Michal Neuvirth||At least the Caps moved their young goalie with the nagging lower-body injuries over the summer and got rid of that headache, eh?
||Had the best seat in the house for the win over Ottawa on Saturday night before heading back to Hershey.|
|Tomas Vokoun||Yeah, he let in a couple of awful goals against the Bolts. And maybe he'd like to have played the two Pittsburgh tallies differently. But since allowing Tampa's fifth goal, Vokoun has three wins, a .963 save percentage and 1.34 goals against average, stopping 79 or 82 shots against in 134 minutes and change. Fire up the Vokeswagon.
|Karl Alzner||Tasked with shutting down opponents' top lines, Alzner did just that this week, playing 56:48 on the week (including just under five minutes on the penalty kill) and being on the ice for just one goal against - Bruno Gervais' flukey below-the-goal-line marker in the Tampa game. Oh, and that career-best three-game assist streak (snapped Saturday night) didn't hurt either.
|John Carlson||Carlson pitched a perfect week, playing 61:08 (5:38 shorthanded) against top competition without being on the ice for a single goal against. In fact, he's only been on for one opposition tally so far this young season, the goalie-pulled game-tying goal for the 'Canes. The points aren't there yet, but if he keeps up the stout defense, who cares?
|John Erskine||You tell 'em John Erskine's comin' and his mo's comin' with him, you hear?|
|Mike Green||Had a big assist in the Pittsburgh game, and while it was his only point of the week, consider that he's been on the ice for seven of the Caps' last dozen goals (and all four power-play goals to date). He still seems to be familiarizing himself with new D-partner Roman Hamrlik...|
|Roman Hamrlik||... who has been on the ice for seven of the 11 goals the Caps have allowed on the season, including five of eight last week. He's also the only Caps blueliner without a point so far, has registered a shot on goal in just one of four games, and is the common denominator on the three power-play goals the team has yielded (no other skater has been on for more than one). Is "Hamrlik" Czech for "Poti"?|
|Tom Poti||Are we really going to have to come up with something to fill this space every week?|
|Jeff Schultz||Was on the ice for both of Tampa's third-period goals, but also provided a key primary assist and three hits in that game. The rest of the week was solid but relatively nondescript - exactly what you want out of Sarge.|
|Dennis Wideman||Scored in each of the week's first two games (including the OT game-winner in the 'Burgh) and added a helper on the eventual game-winning goal on Saturday night. And while he was on the ice for five of the ten Caps goals on the week (no skater was on for more), he was also on for four of the eight they allowed. Such is life with Dennis Wideman, it would seem.|
|Nicklas Backstrom||Scored his first goal in forever on Saturday and had a pair of assists (including setting up Wideman's game-winner) in Pittsburgh, but isn't quite "there" yet, though he has been on the ice for all four Caps' power-play goals. Most troubling? Backstrom only won 38% of his faceoffs in the week's three games.|
|Jay Beagle||When you're a fringe NHLer, sometimes you do things like Beagle did on Thursday in Pittsburgh - challenge the toughest guy on the ice to drop the mittens when he tells you to chill out. Unfortunately for Beagle, things didn't end well, but it sounds as if he's doing alright.|
|Troy Brouwer||Deflected a Jeff Schultz point shot past Dwayne Roloson for his only point on the season, which is disappointing considering the linemates he's been given (i.e. an Alex and a Swede nearly every time he's stepped on the ice). He sure is throwing his weight around, though.|
|Jason Chimera||Followed up his opening night tally with a two-goal effort against the Bolts and used his wheels to draw a penalty against the Sens as he continues to shine on what's been the Caps' best line.|
|Jeff Halpern||Won 68% of his draws on the week, including 75% of the eight he took in his own zone, and wasn't on the ice for a single goal against at even strength or in his 4:06 of penalty-killing time. The helper against Tampa was a cherry on top.|
|Matt Hendricks||Hasn't shown up in the stat sheets much yet, but did have a big shootout goal in the Lightning game.|
|Marcus Johansson||A couple of pretty wrap-around goals bookend a week in which he may have been the Caps' best forward. His work in the dot continues to be a concern, however, as he's won just 40% of his draws overall, and a pitiful 27% in the offensive zone.|
|D.J. King||Got a sweater, nine shifts and seven minutes against the Sens.|
|Mike Knuble||To the surprise of absolutely no one, Knuble scored against the Pens from within inches of the goal (and without even shooting the puck), then followed it up with a helper on each of the Caps' goals on Saturday. Maybe he doesn't have to skate with Ovechkin and Backstrom to be effective after all.|
|Brooks Laich||Centering a shutdown third line that isn't allowing much of anything to opponents' top lines at even strength - the only goal Laich, Chimera and Joel Ward were on the ice for all week was that same fluke Gervais goal, and that's despite being matched against the likes of Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, Evgeni Malkin, and Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza.|
|Alex Ovechkin||Scored a big goal on a pretty deflection in Pittsburgh, but was a minus-two on the week and had a couple of shifts that you'd rather not see from your "lead by example" captain.|
|Mathieu Perreault||Had an assist and provided a different (and interesting) look for the fourth line against Tampa, but didn't get a sweater in either of the week's other two games. (That 12.5% in the dot isn't helping.)|
|Alexander Semin||No Cap forward was on the ice for as many goals-against (four) as Semin this week, and nary a one of those came on the penalty kill. Instead, three of the four came with the score tied (as did his penalty in overtime against Tampa), and the other with the Caps up one in the third period. On the flip side, no Cap forward was on the ice for as many goals-for (four), two of which came with the Caps trailing by a goal, and one apiece with them tied and up one. Still, a no-goal/two-assist three-game week is less than should be expected from this $6.7 million man.|
|Joel Ward||See the Laich blurb above for the key points from the past week, but here's an over-arching point: there may not be a player on the team that does more things the right way and seems to have better attention to detail than Ward. Thanks for trainin' him up, Barry Trotz.|