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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 5

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth Got his season back on track with a 24-save, 5-1 victory over the 'Canes in his first start since Opening Night. Neuvirth is now 3-1-0/2.23/.922 in his young career against Carolina. More importantly, he's now healthy and presumably ready to take a good portion of the workload in net.
Tomas Vokoun Allowed a goal or two in five of the six 20-minutes periods he played (including seven at even strength) en route to an ugly 1-1-0/3.96/.837 week and a 4.67/.833 line over his last three starts. Of particular concern, some of the goals against the Isles were, well... let's just hope he's getting them out of his system now.
Karl Alzner Had a plus-three rating against the Ducks while matched against the Ducks' top line (and paired with Jeff Schultz, not John Carlson), added a helper against the 'Canes and ended the week having only been on the ice for two goals against - the lone opposition strike in Raleigh and the empty netter in Uniondale.
John Carlson Scored his first goal of the season in the same building in which he scored the first of his NHL career on Friday night and assisted on the Caps' first goal a night later. No Caps blueliner was on for more goals-for than Carlson this week (5), and only Alzner (+3) had a better goal differential for the week than his +2.
John Erskine Got his first game action of the season against the Ducks and notched a helper and a plus-one, which he followed up with a noticeable physical (post-whistle) presence against the 'Canes, reminding everyone that he is, indeed, an upgrade over Sean Collins.
Mike Green With Green in the lineup, the Caps are scoring 4.1 goals per game, allowing just two against, the power play is firing at 29.6%, and the penalty kill has done it's job 81.8% of the time. When Green hasn't dressed, the team is scoring 3.6 goals per game, allowing 3.8, 18.8% effective on the power play and 75% on the penalty kill. To be sure, those are small samples laden with correlation/causation concerns, but the numbers might actually understate his importance to the team's success (something their 7-0-0 record when he's played and 2-3-0 mark when he hasn't does not).
Roman Hamrlik Just when he'd seemed to have turned the corner, Hamrlik was on the ice for all four Ducks goals, posting a minus-three (and it wasn't one of those "another victim of the plus-minus stat" nights). He was better in Raleigh, but back on for another two on Long Island, all the while contributing nothing offensively as he had his first assist of the season taken away and awarded to Cody Eakin on Friday night. He has been on the ice for a team-high 15-goals against, 11 of which have come at even strength (also a team high), and against middling competition. Let's chalk it up to him still getting acclimated and/or the Green injury for at least another week, shall we?
Tom Poti Welcome to the Tom Poti LTIR Comedy Moment...

Tom Poti walks into a bar... and injures himself, ending up on LTIR.
Jeff Schultz A pair of assists (the first of which set-up the overtime game-winner on Tuesday) book-ended a week in which Sarge was on for the ice for four Caps goals and just two against, helped shut down the Ducks' and Hurricanes' top lines, and flashed some serious style for good measure.
Dennis Wideman On the ice for five Caps tallies on the week (three of which he pointed on), but was also on for a half-dozen opposition goals, including the last four in the Isles game. His goal and assist were big in the comeback against the Ducks, but being on the ice for six of the nine even-strength goals the team allowed isn't getting the job done (though it's certainly worth noting that the Anaheim game broke a string of five games in a row for Wideman without being on the ice for a single goal against of any kind).
Nicklas Backstrom Another fantastic week for the super Swede, highlighted by the game-tying and -winning goals against the Ducks. Backstrom now has four multi-point games in a row, six multi-pointers in his last seven, and leads the League with eight such games. He's also leading the League in assists (tied) and points-per-game (tied). Not Breaking News: Nicklas Backstrom is a stud.
Jay Beagle Sounds just about ready to start skating again after being sidelined with a concussion, but he might have a hard time breaking back into the lineup.
Troy Brouwer Found a bit of instant chemistry with Eakin and Mathieu Perreault during the furious comeback against Anaheim, scoring the Caps' third goal, then had a grape and an apple down in Carolina. Four points in his last four games and six in his last seven to go along with nearly twice as many hits as any of his teammates say Brouwer's a freight train that's on track.
Jason Chimera Had a pair of helpers against the Ducks as his line dominated the game at both ends of the rink. The rest of the week was quiet, but the third line can't carry the team every night.
Cody Eakin Nearly scored in his first NHL shift, but ended up having to wait an entire game and change before doing so, adding an assist, and getting the ol' shaving cream pie in the face. And yes, that's a red up arrow for a dude who rocks the red even on off days.
Jeff Halpern Responded to a healthy scratch with his first goal of the season and an assist over the next two games.
Matt Hendricks Had a fight and a minus-one week, but has gone five games without a point and the entire season so far without a goal, which no doubt bothers him more than it does anyone else.
Marcus Johansson Picked up only his second assist of the season on Friday night, and was held off the scoresheet otherwise, though he did win 52% of his 33 draws, including 62% of the 13 in the offensive zone. At some point, his wings are going to need to start converting more of his gorgeous passes (as Brouwer did Friday) if the second line is going to carry its weight.
D.J. King Asked to be waived, was waived, went unclaimed, stayed with the team then accepted an assignment to Hershey. Dude just wants to play hockey, which is certainly respectable.
Mike Knuble It's tough to get comfortable with the idea of Knuble as an effective, productive fourth-liner, but give him an "A" for effort - assisting on Halpern's goal and firing five shots in limited minutes is something, even if he had a minus-two rating on the week.
Brooks Laich Three assists against Anaheim, a power-play goal against the Isles and a 55% efficiency in the dot, including 64% in the defensive zone... what more could you ask of your third-line center?
Alex Ovechkin Perhaps you heard that Ovechkin wasn't on the ice with the Caps trailing by one in the final minute of the game against the Ducks. No? Anyway, following that shift off, Ovechkin assisted on the game-winner, had a pair of helpers in Carolina, and scored on the Island. He now has three goals and three assists in his last four games, five and five in his last seven (a span over which, interestingly, he's been credited with just two hits).
Mathieu Perreault Didn't do much against Anaheim and found himself scratched against Carolina. Unlike seemingly every Cap this season, however, he didn't respond well to being sat, racking up a minus-three against New York. Pointless with just one shot on goal in his last four games, Perreault has to be feeling a bit of heat from Eakin.
Alexander Semin Don't look now, but we're in the midst of another patented Alexander Semin dry spell, with Sasha registering just two helpers and nary a goal over his last seven games. He's looked a bit better than those numbers might suggest... but not by much.
Joel Ward Had a goal and an assist against the Ducks and started off the scoring against the Isles. He didn't score his fourth goal of the season last year until New Year's Eve, so he's certainly way ahead of schedule here.

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