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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 21

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



Goalies Trend Notes
Todd Ford Signed an NHL contract just in time to backup Neuvirth in Long Island Saturday night, and did an excellent job manning the runway. Hopefully he's as good at opening the bench door at Verizon...
Michal Neuvirth Went from a 39-save shutout over Pittsburgh to a six-goal shellacking against the Rangers (the first time he's allowed more than five goals in a game this year), then wrapped up the week by making a last-minute start and salvaging two points on the Island.
Semyon Varlamov Was scheduled to make his first start of the week against the Islanders...then came up lame in the morning skate and is day-to-day with a lower body injury. Again.
Karl Alzner Was solid in victory against the Pens but was on the ice for - and looked bad on - three of the Rangers' six goals Friday night. Saturday's performance was slightly better in that he was only on the ice for two goals, but they were the only two goals scored by the Islanders. 
John Carlson Picked up his first point in four games, an assist against the Islanders, but that's hardly enough to cancel out the fact that he's been invisible at times and bad at others - and has been on for six of the last seven goals the team has allowed. With Green and Poti on the shelf indefinitely, the pressure is on Carlson to play better and for now, at least, it appears he's hit a wall. Perhaps the Dennis Wideman acquisition will help take the heat off...
John Erskine Racked up eight hits in three games this week and was one of just a few Caps to even show up against the Rangers. Steady as she goes for Big John (although one might have liked to see someone go after Stepan for that little shot to Green's head).
Mike Green Missed the Penguins game with lingering side effects from the last time the two teams tangled, then played just two shifts against the Rangers before being knocked out of the lineup again after a Derek Stepan elbow to the head. Always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to head injuries, and the team's doing just that, announcing yesterday that Green would be out a couple of weeks. Get well soon, Mike.
Scott Hannan With ongoing injuries to the blue line, Hannan logged over twenty-three minutes of ice time in each of his last three games and continues to settle in nicely. His six blocked shots in the win over the Isles Saturday led everyone in the game and included a few in the crucial final minutes - but it's the unexpected 4 shots on goal and an overall good performance against the Rangers that earns him an up arrow this week.
Tom Poti Hard to imagine the Caps going out and getting Wideman if the timetable for Poti's return looked at all promising. He's starting to skate with the team, though (if not taking contact yet) so...that's something. 
Jeff Schultz Sandwiched a mediocre performance on Friday between much better outings against the Penguins and Islanders, and finished the week with nine blocked shots and *gasp* a hit to his credit. Seems to be benefiting from the strong play of his D partner, Hannan, but has been solid if unspectacular in his own right.
Tyler Sloan Saw limited time in his two games this week, and with some defensive depth added at the deadline will likely be pushed back into the press box for the foreseeable future. 
Nicklas Backstrom Fractured his thumb on a Kris Letang slash last week, and while he didn't miss a game, his effectiveness has been limited. The injury rendered him unable to take draws against the Rangers and pushed him (temporarily, at least) to the wing against the Islanders. A little time off to heal might be the best option...but we all know that's not happening.
Jay Beagle Was a surprise call-up just in time for the Islanders game and did what he was supposed to do - add some energy to a lineup that desperately needed it. The results may not always be there but the effort usually is.
Matt Bradley An otherwise quiet week for #10 was highlighted by his efforts against the Penguins, when he lined up former teammate Matt Cooke for a crushing hit, sat in the box for a questionable two minutes and then answered the bell against Pittsburgh's Ryan Craig. The result? Cooke lands on his butt and Brads fires up his team. Up. Arrow. Baby.
Jason Chimera Attempted to inject some energy into a lifeless game on Friday with a fight but was otherwise invisible...except when he was sitting in the penalty box. 
Eric Fehr Skated with the team. Still out indefinitely. Aaaand...repeat.
Boyd Gordon It's not Boyd Gordon's job to score pretty goals or make great passes, but the team does count on him as one of their more dependable defensive forwards. So it's troubling when the guy who quietly does all the right things is noticeable for all the wrong reasons, and that was the case against the Rangers. An unusually brutal outing for Gordo.
Matt Hendricks The newly-extended Hendricks was one of the few guys to escape Friday's fiasco with an even plus-minus rating and stepped out of his weight class to tangle with Zenon Konopka on Saturday, but was relatively quiet otherwise.
Marcus Johansson Picked up a beauty of an assist on Ovechkin's power play goal against Pittsburgh but won just seven of his last sixteen faceoffs and saw his time between Ovechkin and Backstrom cut short after the trio was lit up for two Islanders' goals.
D.J. King 4:25 of ice time against the Pens, press box, press box, waivers. All in a week's work for King.
Mike Knuble Had his goal-scoring streak against the Penguins snapped last week but still managed to pick up an assist on the power play tally and now has ten points (seven goals, three assists) in eight games against Pittsburgh since joining the Caps.
Brooks Laich Followed up one of his worst games of the season against the Rangers with one of his best in a long time against the Islanders, an outing which featured some power moves to the net and resulted in two hard-earned points. Keep it up, Brooksie.
Alex Ovechkin Scored a laser of a power play goal against the Pens, was one of the team's more effective players against the Rangers and picked up an assist against the Islanders. That's eight points in the last eight games for the Great Eight...which for him is merely good.
Mathieu Perreault Stuck around for quite awhile this time and got a nice long look, but with just two points in his last eight games (both of which were in the same game) and a minus-seven rating over that span, it appears Perreault's latest stint with the big club is over. 
Alexander Semin As enigmatic as ever, Semin's week ranged from some bad penalties to some surprisingly physical play to a typically wicked wrister that gave him his 22nd goal of the year - in just 48 games. 
David Steckel Had himself quite a nice game against the Islanders...his final one in a Caps' jersey. Best of luck in New Jersey, Stecks.

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