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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 16

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth Got back into the game with a bang after a long layoff, turning aside 54 of the 58 shots he faced this week (including a 30-save shutout in Montreal) and certainly not looking like a guy coming back after a long layoff.
Tomas Vokoun Gave up three goals in each of his two starts this week and picked up his second set of back-to-back losses in a month… but it’s tough to put much of that on him (aside from that third goal in Raleigh, all you, big guy) when the offense in front of him generated no goals over the course of those two games and the team in front of him generated no energy.
Karl Alzner Wasn’t atrocious but still hasn’t looked like the dominant defenseman we know he can be, especially with three giveaways on his rap sheet this week. And while he’s not expected to chip in offense all that much, he had started the year on a run of an assist every 5-6 games – he’s now at 10 pointless games and counting.
John Carlson The good: he got an assist in the win over Montreal, his first in nine games. The bad: he still hasn’t scored a goal since the beginning of December. The ugly: Not only is he not putting up points, he was on for seven of the ten goals the Caps gave up this week, and while he’s blocking a lot of shots (14 this week) it’s mostly because he’s had to.
John Erskine Played just two of the four games and still somehow managed to end up with the second-highest PIM total of the week (trailing only the guy who had three fights). That triple-minor against Montreal, plus the additional minor he’d taken earlier that same game, was a strange one and perhaps a questionable call, but Big John can’t be putting himself in the position to even allow the refs to consider it.
Mike Green All indications point to a successful surgery on Tuesday; how successful remains to be seen. And now we wait.
Roman Hamrlik Was clicking along last week, on for three times as many goals-for as goals-against… right up until Pittsburgh and what was easily one of his worst games in the last month or two. He was on for three of the four Penguin goals yesterday, including the overtime winner, and was at least partly responsible for that last one in particular.
Tomas Kundratek Has been rotated in and out of the lineup (and given limited minutes when he’s in) and has yet to be on for an opponent’s goal. Which really is all we’re asking of him at this point.
Dmitry Orlov Picked up an assist against Montreal but slipped a bit this week in his own end, as he found himself on for two goals-against to the one goal-for. Still nothing to panic about, for sure, but there’s no question the kid’s an adventure to watch at times – in a good way and a scary, hide-under-the-couch way. Keep laying out hits like the one on James Neal yesterday, though, and we'll happily move in under the couch.
Tom Poti His name popped up in the papers for the first time in a long while thanks to Green’s surgery, but it doesn’t sound like the news is any better. Or even news at this point.
Jeff Schultz Four games played by his team, zero games played by him. At this point it’s almost not a question of if he’ll be moved, but when and for what.
Dennis Wideman Steady as she goes for Wideman, who picked up an assist in each game in which that was possible. His seventeen shot-attempts lead all defensemen by a pretty significant margin – the next-highest was Carlson, with 11 - and was among the most on the team as well. Not that this is a tough feat to accomplish right now, of course, but worth noting nonetheless..
Nicklas Backstrom Good news out of Kettler today, as Backstrom skated on his own for the first time in almost three weeks. It was brief, and there's still no timetable for his return, but thanks to the All Star break he'll have a chance to heal up a bit more without missing too many more games. We hope.
Jay Beagle The scoresheet says he played in two of the games this week... so it must be true.
Troy Brouwer Made a nice pass to set up Johansson's goal in Montreal, set up a nicer scoring chance for the Hurricanes with a big turnover in Raleigh and dropped the mitts with Tyler Kennedy and his giant nostrils in Pittsburgh. Active, but not overwhelmingly productive.
Jason Chimera Rounded out a week in which he had no goals, no assists and two minors with some questionable play in his own end, and now has just one goal in the last month.
Cody Eakin Picked up his fourth assist and had an all-around solid game against Carolina (one of the few who did) but continues to be relatively quiet and is a good candidate to make the fabled journey back to Hershey when Backstrom gets back.
Jeff Halpern Took twenty-nine draws this week and won all but eight of them, which is impressive. Not so impressive? Halpern was on for half of the team's ten goals-against this week, including two of the three in Pittsburgh and all three against the Islanders.
Matt Hendricks Earned a five-minute rest in the penalty box in two of the four games on the week, which included the much-ballyhooed "revenge" fight against Rene Bourque in Montreal, and now has fights in four of his last eight - just one shy of his total in the thirty-five games prior.
Marcus Johansson His goal against Montreal was the game-winner, his tenth of the season and his eighth point in the last ten games - and after seeing the first period against Pittsburgh without him and Backstrom in the lineup, his value to this team might have gone up just a smidge.
Mike Knuble Had back-to-back chances that were thisclose to being his first goal since December 5, but alas, 'twas not to be. Did pick up back-to-back minor penalties to give him the same number of PIMs as his jersey number, so... there's that.
Brooks Laich We're all very excited about his ninth goal of the season yesterday, his first in almost a month. The other end of the ice, however, is becoming a bit of a concern (to put it mildly) after being one of his strengths. Laich was on the ice for seven of the goals given up this week, including all four against the Penguins, and thirteen of the last sixteen overall. Which is scary.
Alex Ovechkin Four points in four games is good, as is the fact that he wasn't on the ice for any goals by the opposition. But three of those points came against Pittsburgh, and while he was good in Montreal, he was invisible against the Islanders and Hurricanes. The captain's energy and physicality from the second period on against the Pens was a big reason the team got back into the game (although perhaps it was a bit too physical) - we need to see that dominance more often, and when the team needs it most.
Mathieu Perreault Seeing Perreault penciled in at first-line center yesterday wasn't exactly what most Caps fans would consider a comforting sight. With Backstrom on the shelf and Johansson ill, however, the task fell to 85 to carry that burden - and he did a great job all things considered, chipping in on two of the three goals and not looking lost in the process. Add in one of the sweetest shots you'll see against hometown Montreal, and that's a fine week for Mathieu.
Alexander Semin If you're expecting Semin to do anything but run hot and cold, you haven't been watching him long enough - but he didn't have a bad week overall, on for four of the six goals the Caps scored (and earning a point on three of them) and none against while sitting just (yes, just) two minutes in the penalty box. Mild-mannered Sasha.
Joel Ward Continues to look lost... and probably won't be finding himself anytime soon if his ice time continues to nosedive.

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