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Capitals Ups and Downs: Week 25

Paul Bereswill - Getty Images
Paul Bereswill - Getty Images

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Braden Holtby Ended this week the way he started last week, suiting up for the Caps against the Canadiens in Montreal. And while he's since been returned to Hershey (again) he managed to squeeze in an eighteen-save one of the toughest buildings in the NHL...on Hockey Night in Canada. Ice water in his veins, this one.
Michal Neuvirth Was the victim of poor defense in front of him Tuesday night in Philly but was solid enough in the shootout to help steal two points before illness pushed him into the role of slightly nauseous-looking backup on Friday and out of the lineup on Saturday. Can he stay healthy for more than a week? Can Varly? Will Holtby ever find his long-lost twin? And what about Bob? These questions - and many others - will be answered in the next episode of All My Goaltenders.
Semyon Varlamov Made his return to the net a day earlier than planned after missing over a month due to injury, and looked good at times, rusty at others. Didn't get much help from one of his defensemen on the play but he probably needs to stop that second Senators goal.
Karl Alzner Was off the ice for all eight goals scored on Tuesday, on for one goal against in the Ottawa game and one goal for in the Montreal an even week for Alzner (although his rough shift was a partial contributor to Ottawa's insurance goal Friday night). Meanwhile his seven blocked shots on the week are a reminder of how quietly he does his job so well so often.
John Carlson Was lights out in a high-scoring game against Philly and on for one goal against Ottawa. The deciding factor for Carlson this week? A head-to-head matchup with his rookie defenseman counterpart in Montreal, in which he was a plus-one with four blocked shots and three minutes of perfect penalty-killing time.
John Erskine Made his return to the lineup after a bout with the flu and picked up where he left off, playing about 14 minutes a night of relatively dependable D - and no minor penalties this week, always something to watch for with Big John.
Mike Green Hasn't skated with the team yet but was reportedly feeling much better as the week drew to a close, and his status for the rest of the season - let alone playoffs - might be clearer today. Cross those fingers and toes, toss some salt, and someone sacrifice a damn goat already.
Scott Hannan Had his eleven game streak without a minus-rating snapped against the Flyers (and picked up another minus-one vs. Ottawa) but was back on the positive side Saturday night against the Habs, none the worse for wear. 
Tom Poti Continues to practice with the team, continues to be out of the lineup. We're at the point where reporters and fans alike are forgetting he's even on the team.
Jeff Schultz Six blocked shots and an even-rating wrap up a quiet week for Double Nickel, although his giveaway in the Flyers game was pretty brutal. Also worth noting that his ice time has dropped from over twenty minutes a night before the deadline to around fifteen minutes a night since, including all three games this week.
Tyler Sloan With Erskine back in action it was back to the press box for #89. Enjoy those nachos, TySlo.
Dennis Wideman Had an interesting night in Philadelphia, to put it lightly, as he scored a goal for both teams and was on for every single goal - for and against - in a 4-4 nailbiter. But at least the goal he got for the Caps was a power play strike, and he seemed to settle down against the Sens and Habs. 
Jason Arnott Sat out for a second straight week and was missed, but word is that he's making his return to practice today. 
Nicklas Backstrom Was one of the better players on the ice on Tuesday night and picked it up again in Montreal, finishing the week with a goal and three assists and tying a career-high with seven shots against the Habs. Welcome back, Nick.
Jay Beagle Skated just under ten minutes against the Flyers and was on for two goals-against. Skated just over six minutes against the Senators and was on for another one. Great guy, great attitude, but really looks better in Hershey brown.
Matt Bradley Four hits against Philly, four hits (and an unnecessarily bloodied face) against Ottawa, three hits against Montreal. If you're not scoring, you'd better be at least he's doing that..
Jason Chimera His nine shots on goal this week equal his highest three-game total since early February when he was skating with Backstrom and Ovechkin, and he picked up his second assist in three games on Tuesday. Dare we say he's found some chemistry with Johansson and Knuble?
Eric Fehr The Caps won both games in which Eric Fehr played and lost the one he sat out. Coincidence? ...yeah, probably. But it's certainly nice to have #16 back in the lineup, albeit in limited minutes and skipping the first game of a back-to-back. Hey, if easing him into the lineup now keeps him healthy in a few weeks, we won't complain.
Boyd Gordon Saw his faceoff win percentage drop slightly but still was on the good side of 50% (23-for-44) for the week and continues to be a calming, shot-blocking part of the penalty kill that was perfect in all three games.
Matt Hendricks No points and just two shots on goal for the week, but it was a high stick to the face - and the bizarre non-call that followed - that made Hendricks the center of attention this week. Oh, and this, too. Beauty.
Marcus Johansson Continues to be hot - and timely - with his late third period goal that tied the game Tuesday night, but failed to pick up a point in the last two games of the week and took an ill-timed delay of game penalty in the dying minutes of Saturday's game.
D.J. King Back out against Philly, back in against the Senators (accompanied by the requisite "this is my job" fight), back out against Montreal. Such is the life of an enforcer in today's NHL.
Mike Knuble No one's going to suggest that he was saving something for when the games mattered, but the 38-year-old continues to turn his season around and be one of the team's best players down the stretch. His goal on Tuesday gave him eight straight 20+ goal seasons, and by also picking up two assists he now has twelve points in his last fourteen games. Impressive.
Brooks Laich Was fairly quiet in Philadelphia and Montreal but was easily one of the better Caps in the otherwise lackluster game on Friday night against his old team, firing ten shots on or toward the net and being credited with three hits. 
Alex Ovechkin Russian Machine sat out the week to rest a nagging injury but like Arnott is expected to skate with the team today and return soon after. Whatever keeps you healthy when it counts, big guy.
Alexander Semin Was abysmal against the Flyers right up until he clinched the win in the shootout. Was invisible at times and bad at others against the Senators. Was more focused and dangerous against the Canadiens, picking up his first goal in over two weeks and adding an assist in the 2-0 win. So...meets expectations, no?
Marco Sturm Had a fairly invisible first two games of the week, but earns an up arrow for finally getting his first goal as a Cap - and adding an assist in what was easily his best game - against Montreal. Remnants of being a former Hab-hating Bruin? Natural outcome from playing alongside Nicklas Backstrom? A little of both? Best not to question it, just enjoy it and hope it lasts.

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