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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 19

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth Unexpectedly got the nod Sunday in New York and picked up right where he left off in recent starts - mixing some sparkling saves with some goals he really needed to have. Against the team sitting atop the East at the moment, the Caps needed their goalie to step up and make the big saves, and he couldn't.
Tomas Vokoun Vokoun started the week on fire, turning aside 40+ shots against division rival Florida Monday night for his second shutout in three games and then looking to be well on his way to his third in four... until the Winnipeg Jets struck with less than three minutes left in regulation. And then scored the tying goal on a fluky deflection from center ice. Hard to really fault Vokoun on much there, particularly the second one, but it certainly put a damper on what had been an otherwise impressive week.
Karl Alzner Had an overall solid week on the blueline despite being on the ice for four goals-against, blocking seven shots and finishing all three games with a plus- or even-rating. That he had the misfortune to be holding the stick that deflected the tying goal past Vokoun against Winnipeg is a fact that will haunt all of us.
John Carlson Being reunited with Alzner seems to have settled him down a little bit, as he had a not-completely-horrible week for himself. Which, this season, is about as good as it's gotten. He even threw in a bit of offense - a goal and two assists - to the fact that he was only on the ice for two goals-against (and only one for which he could be held partly responsible).
John Erskine Got a game jersey for the final game of the week, skated less than ten minutes, didn't do much of anything (but also wasn't a liability, so there's that).
Mike Green Continues to heal and is reportedly "on schedule"... which has a much nicer ring to it than "no timetable".
Roman Hamrlik Was decent if not particularly noticeable against Florida, slightly more noticeable when he took a penalty in the dying minutes against the Jets, and awful (aside from picking up his seventh assist of the season) against the Rangers. After being one of the steadier defensemen for the past couple of months he's taken a bit of a dip in recent games - but its (hopefully) nothing the veteran blueliner can't correct. Soon, yes?
Dmitry Orlov After such a great start to his rookie campaign, its sometimes easy to forget that Orlov is just that - a rookie. Nothing like a performance like yesterday's against New York to serve as a stark reminder, as #81 looked out of sync and downright lost at times and was on the ice for two of the Rangers' three goals. The sooner that cage comes off, the better.
Tom Poti Remember when Poti put up four points against his former team in the playoffs at Madison Square Garden, and saluted the booing crowd afterward? Ah, memories...
Jeff Schultz Was a plus-one with *gasp* a couple of hits in his two games this week and was quiet and inconspicuous, which is how you can tell he's had a good game... but was right back in the press box on Sunday in favor for Erskine. Hopefully the demotion was simply a way to keep the defense fresh in the first of back-to-backs...
Dennis Wideman Picked up three assists, all on the power play, and wasn't on the ice for any of the five goals-against on the week. Worth noting: Wideman saw his second- and third-lowest ice times of the season against Winnipeg and Florida respectively... and then skated an astounding 28+ minutes against the Rangers.
Keith Aucoin Continues to get minimal ice time (including just about a minute on the power play) and hasn't done much with it... although he has had a couple of golden scoring opportunities that, on someone else's stick, might have found the back of the net.
Nicklas Backstrom Still out, still no timetable, still only discouraging reports about his condition... but he did travel with the team to New York for the team's annual father trip, so that's something. Not much, but something.
Jay Beagle After missing his fifth straight game as a healthy scratch, Beagle finally got a sweater for two of the three games this week and proceeded to do... well, not a whole lot aside from being on the ice at the same time as Carlson scored on Sunday to pick up a plus-one.
Troy Brouwer No points and just one shot on goal on the week - and had the strange misfortune to take the draw that led to Byfuglien's fluky game-tying tally - but was also on for almost half of the goals scored on the week and chipped in his usual 4-5 hits a night. Still, if he's going to be a top line guy, we need more.
Jason Chimera Seems to have found some nice chemistry alongside Semin and Perreault, and as a result got back to providing a bit of offense for his team. He picked up a gift of a shorthanded goal - the second shortie on the year for both him and the team in general - against the Panthers and added a beauty of an assist on Semin's goal at MSG; he also led the team in shots on goal in two of the three games, racking up 16 over the course of the week.
Jeff Halpern Extended his goalless drought to 26 games and was on for two goals-against without being on for any scored by his teammates, and continued to take a bit of a hit in the dot (although he was back up above 50% for the week... if only slightly).
Matt Hendricks Made a great play shorthanded to set up what essentially was a tap-in on an open net for Chimera against Florida and saw his career-best ice time continue to climb with over twenty minutes against the Jets. Wasn't that noticeable against the Rangers, though, which is exactly the kind of team - and the kind of game - in which you want a guy like Hendricks to get some attention.
Marcus Johansson Picked up an assist on the power play against the Panthers and won 62% of his draws against the Jets... but continues to simply look out of place on the top line. He's still young and still evolving, but every game in which he's unable to maintain possession and set up Ovechkin is a game in which we're reminded that he's not quite at the level of his injured countryman.
Mike Knuble Skated ten minutes against Florida and then spent the rest of his week watching from the pressbox, as Knuble found himself a healthy scratch for the first time in almost two years. Interestingly enough, the Caps lost both games in which he was scratched - coincidence? ...yeah, probably. Still, regardless of whether he's lost a step or not it's hard not to wonder how he's not at least a better option than Beagle.
Brooks Laich Amazingly did not miss a single game after suffering an injury that looked scarily bad against Boston, suiting up just two nights later for a big divisional matchup against the Cats and perhaps even providing a bit of inspiration for his teammates. Having said that... he's clearly not 100% and is being used minimally at best. That he's continuing to dress is probably a sign that this team doesn't have the luxury of resting injured players unless absolutely necessary.
Alex Ovechkin Was dominant against the Panthers, picking up his first multi-goal game in almost a month, then followed it up by scoring on a nice sharp-angle shot on the power play - and making an even prettier pass to set up Semin's power play tally - against the Jets. That doesn't excuse the fact that his performance against the Rangers was lackluster at best, but a five-point week (and a shootout goal) is nothing to sneeze at.
Mathieu Perreault Got the Caps on the board early Tuesday night, picking up his ninth goal of the season (and the eventual game-winner) just thirteen seconds in and making sure Verizon Center was jumping right from the start - but did less with more ice time the rest of the week.
Alexander Semin Had a point in each of the three games, including two goals, and was easily the team's best player through forty minutes against the Rangers - even going so far as to shock the world (or at least the NBC broadcast team) by making a diving defensive play to prevent a scoring chance. The fact that he got a little cutesy at the end of the New York game aside, he had the kind of week we had hoped to see when Ovechkin was out serving his suspension (including being on for five goals-for and none against)... when it comes to 28, though, we'll take it when we can get it.
Joel Ward Had what was easily his best game in months, if not the entire season, against Florida despite not showing up on the scoresheet, and followed it up with another solid outing (and a bump in TOI to boot) against the Jets. He was on - and partly responsible - for New York's opening tally on Sunday, and saw his ice time dip back down below ten minutes, but overall a good week for a guy who hasn't had many of late.

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