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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 11

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth Shutout the Jets on Thursday to earn a Saturday start in Colorado in which he allowed a fluke soft once-in-a-lifetime bad questionable goal-against and another to take a hard-luck loss. But two starts, a 1.01 goals against average and a .963 save percentage (including seven stops on seven shots against in 12 shorthanded minutes) certainly deserve an up arrow for the week.
Tomas Vokoun After a four-game, 2.27/.929 run which featured three games in which he allowed just two goals against, you might have thought Vokoun was out of the woods. You'd have been wrong, as two routine shots and two unlucky deflections found their way through the Caps' elder Czech netminder and into the net against Philly in just forty minutes of work. But the run-up to that shellacking was somewhat encouraging, so let's chalk it up to (another) bump in the road.
Karl Alzner Tied a career-high with four shots on goal against the Jets (breaking a streak of eight-consecutive games with exactly one shot on goal), blocked three shots in each of the week's last two games, played 8:09 on the penalty kill without being scored upon, and held the Flyers' top line in check. It's hard to ask for much more from King Karl.
John Carlson It's odd to see Alzner and his partner headed in different directions for the week, but a pair of minus-2's (minus-four for the week), no points, just one shot on goal, and on the ice for four (of the seven) goals-against and none (of the three) -for will do that.
John Erskine The minutes have been small and his impact smaller, as Erskine averaged less than 11 minutes per game for the week, five seconds of which have come on the penalty kill.
Mike Green Met the team in Denver, where he was seeing a specialist about his injured groin, but remains on the shelf for the foreseeable future, which is particularly brutal given that the Caps' power play continues to sputter along, going 7-for-65 (which includes a 4-for-6 game) since he last played.
Roman Hamrlik More of the same at the offensive end from Hamrlik, who once scored 65 points in a season, had 34 last year, but doesn't have a point in his last 21 games for the Caps. Things have looked up a bit for the veteran blueliner in the defensive zone, but he's still dead last on the team in plus-minus.
Dmitry Orlov Back-to-back two-shot performances to start the week and a helper to end it would seem to reflect a defender who's feeling more comfortable with each passing game, and an average of 19 minutes per game over those three would indicate that the coaching staff is feeling similarly about their young Russian rearguard.
Tom Poti Nothing to report.
Jeff Schultz Jeff Schultz is a man without a country, unable to get a sweater even after the team surrendered five goals to Philly. Bizarre.
Dennis Wideman Can the power-play woes be pinned on Wideman? Of course not. But with 10:48 of ice time on a unit that went 0-for-9 on the week, he's certainly not blameless. In his own end, Wideman was on the ice for three of the five goals-against in Tuesday night's blowout, but played the next two games without being on for an opposing tally.
Nicklas Backstrom Down week for the Caps' best player to date, as he registered just one point (albeit a big one) via the secondary assist on the game-winner in the 'Peg, failed to get anything going on the power play, and won just 43% of his draws (and just 36% in the two road games). On the plus side, at least he didn't hurt the team defensively, on the ice for just one Vokoun softy for the week and providing some solid penalty killing.
Jay Beagle Getting closer to a return, upon which his job will be to provide energy, energy and more energy to a team that could certainly use the infusion.
Troy Brouwer Moved off the top line five games ago, Brouwer responded with a Gordie Howe Hat Trick... and nothing since. It's hard to envision that changing much if he isn't playing with at least one of the trio of über-skilled Caps that currently constitute the top line.
Jason Chimera Like most of his teammates, Chimera has a bit of a goal-scoring drought going, with his standing at five games, which probably wouldn't warrant mention if he wasn't the team's leading goal-getter. Four shots on goal in each of the last two games show that the effort's there.
Cody Eakin With limited minutes (and effectiveness) and a healthy scratch in Colorado, it was pretty clear that Eakin's first stint in D.C. was drawing to a close. But he'll be back before too long.
Jeff Halpern The Caps scored three goals last week and Halpern was on the ice for two of the three, scoring in garbage, err, pride time against Philly. Halpern also took care of business in his own end, finishing the week plus-two, as he wasn't on for a single one of the seven opposition tallies. In his last half-dozen games, Halpern now has two goals, two assists and a plus-five rating - it's like Hanukkah come early!
Matt Hendricks Returned to the lineup to face the team that gave him his first taste of NHL action and proceeded to get in a fight with an old pal. Unfortunately for Hendricks, it seems it's going to take a lot more than that to spark this team.
Marcus Johansson Made a beautiful, patient drop-pass on the game-winner Thursday night and actually won 58% of his draws on the week, but his 17-game goal-less streak is a bit concerning, and it may not end any time soon if he doesn't start shooting more - he's failed to register even a single shot on goal in eight of his last 11 games and 11 of his last 14. Needless to say, as second-line center, he's one of the big losers when the team ices an "eggs in one basket" top line.
Mike Knuble One goal, two assists, minus-9 in his last 22 games, no shots on goal in either of the last two... we'd give him a down arrow, but skating on the fourth line, how much more should reasonably be expected? Maybe Dale Hunter just really, really, really hates the 1998 Red Wings.
Brooks Laich Laich was on the ice for three goals-against and none -for on the week and won just 38% of his draws in the two road games (including just three of 11 in the defensive zone). But he keeps firing the biscuit (11 shots on goal) and doing yeoman's work on the kill, so at least he's contributing.
Alex Ovechkin Scored a goal - the only one of the game - in Winnipeg, and fired 13 shots on goal for the week, but he's simply got to do more than that. At this point, I don't think anyone would care if he never set foot in the defensive zone again if he could just figure out a way to get the power-play on track (not that one should necessarily impact the other, of course).
Mathieu Perreault Had a minus-two rating against the Flyers (one of which was earned as he deflected the puck past his own netminder), and a minor penalty in each of the next two games before leaving the Colorado tilt with a mystery ailment (perhaps "bad sushi"?)
Alexander Semin Broke an eight-game goal-less spell for the team's only tally against the Avs, but that was it for a week that included a minus-three/five-hit game against Philly. Fun fact: Semin's goal on Saturday was his first in his last 22 December games.
Joel Ward Like Halpern, was on the ice for two of the three goals the Caps scored for the week, assisting on both. He was also on for just one goal-against. That's good enough for an up arrow this week.

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