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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 9

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 03: Members of the Washington Capitals celebrate their 3-2 overtime win against the Ottawa Senators at Verizon Center on December 3, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 03: Members of the Washington Capitals celebrate their 3-2 overtime win against the Ottawa Senators at Verizon Center on December 3, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Our weekly look at individual Washington Capitals' ups and downs:

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth After a rough start to the season, Neuvirth really needed a bounce-back performance to regain some self-confidence (and perhaps that of his teammates), and the team was in desperate need of a win. And while he didn't steal the game by any means, his work against Ottawa Saturday night was solid, included a lot of saves he should make and earned him his first win in a month.
Tomas Vokoun Didn't give up more than two goals in either of his games this week, the first time he's let in fewer than three since November 15, and was very solid overall... but a questionable goal in each one turned into the game-winner for the other team. Still, as he himself pointed out, it's pretty hard to win when the team in front of you only scores one goal. Heck, he even tried to put his money where his mouth was, chipping in on offense with his first assist as a Cap Monday night.
Karl Alzner Had a couple of hits and a couple of blocked shots as usual, and topped off another solid week with a nice outlet pass up the middle to spring Laich and Chimera for the game-winner Saturday night. Somehow managed to be on the ice for four of the five goals in that game, though - two goals-for, two against.
John Carlson Bad: The Caps gave up six goals this week and Carlson was on the ice for four of them. Good: The Caps scored five goals this week and Carlson was on the ice for three of them. So at least things are happening when he's on the ice, right? You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have... John Carlson's 2011-12 season.
John Erskine His unfortunate stumble led to Chris Kunitz's eventual game-winner on Thursday, but he balanced it out with a hell of a revenge bout against Arron Asham. Although in the future it might be better if the guy coming back from a shoulder injury isn't the guy who "takes care of business". Just a thought.
Mike Green Didn't travel with the team to Florida, but finally resumed skating this week and was on the ice almost every day... so that's something.
Roman Hamrlik After weeks of being noticed for the wrong reasons, Hamrlik actually had a very quiet but fairly steady game in his first action under the new head coach Monday night. A lower-body injury shelved him for the rest of the week, though, so no word on whether that one game was a fluke...
Dmitry Orlov Still impressive in his mobility and his physicality, but seems to be struggling just a bit with the new system (as we found out when he lost his man completely against Pittsburgh, leading to their opening tally). Give him another week or two, he'll be fine.
Tom Poti The only place you see him these days is on the Caps' LTIR list. And here.
Jeff Schultz Was part of the debacle that led to Pittsburgh's first goal on Thursday, but that was the only goal-against for which he was on the ice this week, and has looked a bit better when paired up with Orlov, as has usually been the case when he's seeing time with an offensive-minded defenseman. Ahem.
Dennis Wideman Wideman was on the ice for more goals-for (2) than goals-against (1) this week, and was key in the play that led to Brouwer's go-ahead goal against the Senators. He also finished the week a plus-one - the first time he's had a positive plus-minus for a week since the beginning of November.
Nicklas Backstrom Another week, another couple of goals for Backstrom, who provided roughly half of the team's offense for the entire week. His nine goals on the season are second to only Jason Chimera among Caps' players; even better is the fact that, through Saturday's games, his 27 points are tied for the fifth-most in the League.
Jay Beagle No word on when he'll be cleared to play, but on Saturday morning he skated for the first time in three weeks, bringing a smile to his teammates' faces and ours.
Troy Brouwer With his seventh goal of the season Saturday night, Brouwer is now almost a third of the way to his career high of 22. While he's been finding his offensive rhythm, he keeps throwing those bone-rattling hits (13 this week, by the way), which just makes him fun to watch. And, one would assume, painful to play against.
Jason Chimera Officially hit the ten-goal mark (which wasn't really in question), becoming the first Cap this year to hit double-digits (which, sadly, also wasn't really in question), and threw in a beauty of an assist on the OT game-winner against Ottawa... you know, just to maintain his title of Renaissance Man.
Cody Eakin Had a golden scoring chance against the Senators but continues to lack the ability to finish, and, a game after taking an unnecessary high-sticking penalty against Pittsburgh, saw his lowest ice time in almost a month.
Jeff Halpern Was on for just one goal-against all week (and wasn't particularly at fault for that) and was absolutely dominant in the faceoff circle. Still, his last point was earned exactly one month ago; no one's expecting Chimera-like numbers, but a little offense here and there might be nice.
Matt Hendricks If Halpern's snake-bitten, Hendricks is... uh, whatever is worse than snake-bitten. In fact, his last point came all the way back in October. Just like Halpern, he's there first and foremost to prevent the other team from scoring (and have the occasional "try to shift the momentum" fight, as he showed against the Blues); but Hendricks and his linemates have had their chances - now they need to bury them.
Marcus Johansson Won just six of the nineteen draws he took this week and was part of the collective "oops" that led to the eventual game-winner for Pittsburgh, but beyond that he hasn't had any glaring issues. Continues to skate hard (and mesmerizingly well, particularly end-to-end) and uses his speed and mobility to draw penalties. Which would probably be more impressive if the power play could score, but that's really another issue.
Mike Knuble Played most of the first two games in the Dale Hunter era on the fourth line, but got a few shifts with the top six against Pittsburgh and was on the second line (huzzah!) alongside Eakin and Johansson for the whole game against Ottawa. Still no points, but he's ohmanthisclose to getting one. You can just feel it.
Brooks Laich Celebrated his 500th career game in style, scoring a beauty of an overtime winner against the team that drafted him and capping off another solid week for #21. Along with the goal (and assist against St. Louis) and the 8-for-8 penalty killing on the week, his line helped neutralize the Crosby line on Thursday. And by neutralize we mean "wipe the floor with in the faceoff circle".
Alex Ovechkin Shook off murmurs that he was a coach-killer who wanted Boudreau fired, instead pouring his efforts into some solid games that also included his 500th. No goals for the captain, but he picked up a couple of gorgeous assists on the week and took it upon himself to hit everything that moved - especially in the Pittsburgh game. Most importantly, he seems to be (for now, at least) buying into Coach Hunter's system and executing it fairly well. The goals will come.
Mathieu Perreault An injury to Semin got Perreault back in the lineup on Saturday, and he had a solid game against the Senators, with a couple of hits and a few takeaways in just under eleven minutes of work. Hopefully he's able to stay out of the pressbox a bit longer, because he just seems to give that fourth line a little extra spark.
Alexander Semin No points in his two appearances this week, and a shoulder injury in Thursday's game both limited his ice time against Pittsburgh and kept him out against the Senators. But he didn't take a single penalty (and in fact drew one on Jordan Staal) and has looked focused and motivated in his short time playing for Hunter... even if he's not scoring. Yet.
Joel Ward Has had some iffy moments in his own zone the last week or two; still, he's continued to play a key role on the so-called "Meat and Potatoes" line and set up Chimera for the team's only goal against the Penguins.

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