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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 18

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth Thirty-four saves on 37 shots against is fine (well, actually, that's not true - Dale Hunter's Capitals are just 2-11-1 when allowing three goals in a game), but the 88-footer Neuvirth allowed early in the second period in Sunrise followed up by a leaky power-play goal a period later were saves this team needs right now... and didn't get in Neuvirth's one appearance of the week.
Tomas Vokoun Vokoun's week show just how much the Caps are leaning on their goaltenders right now - a 2.31 goals against average and .922 save percentage was good enough for just one win in three starts. Vokoun was good (and at times great), but he's going to have to be great (and at times perfect) for this team to have success.
Karl Alzner Alzner played big minutes and played them well for the week, on the ice for just one goal-against in 86:08 of ice time (including a perfect 8:50 of penalty-killing) and posting a plus-three rating. He'll learn from the mistake he made on the Brad Marchand goal on Sunday, but had a good week overall.
John Carlson After a brutal night in Tampa (on for all four Bolts goals), Carlson rebounded with a big goal against the Panthers (the only Caps goal for which he was on all week) and good efforts in Montreal and against the B's, two games for which he was reunited with frequent partner Alzner. With any luck, a corner's been turned.
John Erskine Plus-one against the Lightning, but spent the rest of the week watching in civies, perhaps pondering his 22-game point-less streak (or why he's sitting out with three plus-one's in his last four games).
Mike Green Really encouraging news on the Green front - he's been skating and sounds very upbeat about his recovery. There's still no target date for his return... but it sounds imminent.
Roman Hamrlik Terrible in Tampa, better the rest of the week, with 14 blocked shots along the way. And while it's by no means all on him, the Caps only got one assist from a defenseman all week (Alzner), which tells you a lot about how the offense is (and isn't) producing right now.
Dmitry Orlov Tough week for the rookie, who had some hard luck in Florida (playing pretty well but being on the ice for four goals, including getting walked around on the game-winner in Tampa) and over the weekend (a broken nose in Montreal and a subsequent puck to the face against the B's). But he's hitting and playing within himself, and his development is certainly one of the season's bright spots.
Tom Poti The Caps are 141-67-33 all-time with Poti in the lineup... so let's just blame this year's struggles on him.
Jeff Schultz Actually played, and three-straight games, no less. And, to paraphrase the coach, as long as he doesn't screw up, he can keep playing. What a vote of confidence.
Dennis Wideman Scored the eventual game-winner in Montreal with a lob-wedge from the point, but that was the lone highlight in a week that featured defensive gaffes (most notably against the Bruins) and got the most ice time for an 0-for-9 power play.
Keith Aucoin Recalled to provide some offensive spark... but got just one minute of power-play time (with the second unit) and fourth-line duty at even-strength in two games. It's hard to imagine him having much impact under those conditions, and minimal impact is exactly what he had.
Nicklas Backstrom As encouraging as the news on Green is, it's more discouraging on Backstrom... given that there's no news at all. By the way, despite not playing a single game in over a month, Backstrom still leads the team in scoring.
Jay Beagle Scratched four-straight games, Beagle will get back in the lineup... as soon as someone figures out what he can bring to the table that someone else in the lineup isn't already doing better.
Troy Brouwer Scored in Tampa and alternated plus- and minus-games all week. With ten shots on goal in the week's middle two games, he was providing plenty of bang on the team's hardest-working line (alongside Brooks Laich and Matt Hendricks), but it didn't translate into results on the scoreboard.
Jason Chimera No Caps forward was on the ice for as many goals-against as the half-dozen for which Chimera was on (Carlson also was on for six), and that was only offset by one Caps tally. With only one goal and a minus-9 rating in his last 19 games, that hot start is nothing but a distant memory at this point.
Cody Eakin Played very sparingly in Florida before being sent back to Hershey (with just one goal and one assist in his last 14 NHL games), which is probably best for his development at this point.
Jeff Halpern Halpern spent most of the week centering Chimera, and struggled similarly, on the ice for five goals-against and nary a one for (and he even had a sub-par week in the dot, winning just 49% of his draws). Halpern hasn't scored since December 13, a span of 23 games.
Matt Hendricks A pair of goals (his first since late December) and a ton of energy (15 hits in Florida, a fight against Boston) made it a great week for Hendricks. But with all due respect to the Caps' sparkplug, when he's getting 16-plus minutes a night (as he did for the first three games of the week), it's probably an indication that things have gone sideways. Things have gone sideways.
Marcus Johansson A lucky goal broke-up Tim Thomas's shutout bid on Sunday and kept Johansson from a point-less week (despite most of it spent centering one or two Alexes), which was merely lipstick on a pig-ugly quartet of games that featured a 29% win percentage in the faceoff circle (12-for-41), poor shot/pass decisions and moments of complete cluelessness in the defensive zone.
Mike Knuble A minus-five week on that Halpern-Chimera line and a 26-game goal-less streak are signs of a player who's nearing the end of the line, is misutilized and/or is in desperate need of a change of scenery.
Brooks Laich Had a three-game point-streak coming out of the All-Star break, was playing the best hockey of any Caps skater (including being on the ice for six of the nine goals the team scored for the week), and then... (potential) disaster struck, as he left Sunday's game with an apparent leg injury. But he deserves a green arrow for the week - we'll wait 'til next week to give him the ol' Band-Aid.
Alex Ovechkin Returned from suspension as a non-factor against Montreal and looked much better against Boston, but failed to get on the scoresheet. Ovechkin has just six points in his last 11 games (half of which came in his last game pre-suspension), which isn't even in the same area code as "good enough;" it's time for the Caps' leader to lead.
Mathieu Perreault Potted a goal against the Lightning in the week's first game and a helper against the Bruins in the last, but inexplicably was dropped down in the lineup against the team against whom he'd had a hat trick just a dozen days earlier. Huh.
Joel Rechlicz Noted pugilist was signed Monday, played in two games, got six shifts and 4:26 of ice time. Total. Without a fight. Seriously?
Alexander Semin As the only Young Gun in the lineup for three games, Semin stepped up with... no goals and one assist. He had a goal and an assist in Montreal, and does have 19 points in his last 21 games... but not many of them have been particularly memorable (to wit, not one of his 13 goals on the season has been a game-winner).
Joel Ward Small minutes, small impact... big salary. But hey, he had a helper on Sunday, his second point in five games.

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