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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 25


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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth Technically Neuvirth saw action in just one of the week's four games... but it may as well have been two separate games considering how different the ending was from the beginning. Unfortunately it was Neuvirth who had the best view in the house to Winnipeg's comeback overtime victory, eventually facing 42 shots from the Jets and getting hung out to dry by his team. Happy Birthday, Neuvy.
Braden Holtby Got the call from Hershey thanks to a lingering injury to Vokoun and proceeded to win two of his three games this week, allowing just four goals on eighty-four shots and picking up his first shutout of the year. He'll be the first to tell you the lone goal in the Flyers game was on him, but he was otherwise very steady - and helped his team pick up at least a point in all three games - in a week that featured some pretty tough competition.
Tomas Vokoun Ye olde sensitive groin remains a problem, but it sounds like Vokes could be back sooner rather than later... which is good news for everyone not named Braden Holtby.
Karl Alzner Finished the week a minus-one after having the misfortune to be on the ice for Philadelphia's lone goal Thursday night, but otherwise made it through the week unscathed and returned to playing solid, steady defense - and that's with plenty of face-time against guys like Henrik Zetterberg, Claude Giroux and Dany Heatley.
John Carlson Being on the ice for six goals in a week is never good. Being on the ice for six goals in a week where your team only surrendered eight? Very, very not good. Maybe if he were chipping in some offense, as well, it wouldn't sting so much, but he added just a single secondary assist to his defensive meanderings this week and continues to disappoint.
John Erskine Scratched more than a kid with chicken pox.
Mike Green Was on for eight of the Caps' twelve goals this week while only being on ice for one against, which is a good start, but still hasn't quite looked himself lately despite showing flashes of it (most notably in a strong performance against the Flyers on Thursday). With just a handful of games left, time is running out for him to regain his form - and if the Caps make the playoffs, they'll need that to happen ASAP.
Roman Hamrlik It appears that Hamrlik may have climbed out of the doghouse (for now, at least), as he got a game sweater for each of the week's four games. He didn't look half-bad in it, either, finishing the week on ice for five goals-for and just one against while also blocking a bruising fifteen shots.
Dmitry Orlov Made a couple of mistakes against the Blackhawks to wrap up the previous week and as a result found himself in the pressbox for the first three games of this week. His lone outing came in Sunday's win over the Wild, just over ten minutes of work as the team's seventh defenseman in which he was solid if unspectacular. Time will tell if that's enough to get him back in the regular defensive rotation.
Tom Poti Poor Poti. Even his alma mater Boston University can't cheer him up these days.
Jeff Schultz Can the Carlson-Schultz pairing please take a long walk off a short pier? Rough week for Sarge, as he found himself on the ice for five of the eight goals-against and has gotten badly beaten on a couple of occasions. If the goal is to minimize the impact of their mistakes by pairing Carlson and Schultz together... it ain't working.
Dennis Wideman Continues to be among the team's ice time leaders night after night despite the fact that he hasn't always looked good out there, but did pick up an assist and was on the ice for more goals-for than go-...oh, who are we kidding, we're STILL replaying that moment where he stumbled on the Claude Giroux semi-breakaway. Between that and the power play bobble that forced Ovechkin to rush back and make a sliding save, rough week for Wides.
Keith Aucoin With "just" one goal this week it seems he's slipped a bit from the three-point-a-night megastar he once was, but it did turn out to be a vitally important game-winner against Detroit... so perhaps we'll let it slide. Just this once.
Nicklas Backstrom The good news that Backstrom has begun skating on his own became great news when we learned that he was cleared for full practice with the team. As every hockey fan knows, the road back from a concussion is an uphill one and there's no way to know when he'll be back in game shape again - but as his second training camp of the year gets underway, it's hard not to feel positively giddy at the prospect of 19's return.
Jay Beagle Wasn't on the ice for much in the way of offense - for the Caps or their opponents - and did get pretty well beat in the dot in the week's first two games, but continues to simply bring the energy and the hard work (if not the hands) on every shift.
Troy Brouwer Set up Perreault's goal against the Wild with an absolutely beautiful thread-the-needle pass on Sunday but has been otherwise quiet and even found himself off the top line by the end of the week.
Jason Chimera From ice cold last week to blazing hot this week, Chimera's suddenly regained his scoring touch. He kicked off the week with an assist and a game-icing empty-netter before adding the opening tally in each of the last two games - the first time he's scored in back-to-back games since November.
Jeff Halpern After a week filled with scratches, Halpern finally got himself back into the lineup and proceeded to end up in the penalty box in two consecutive games before picking up just his fifth point in 2012 with an assist against Winnipeg. Despite that rarity, he skated less than five minutes vs. the Jets and found himself back in the pressbox when the Wild came to town Sunday evening. 'Tis a puzzlement.
Matt Hendricks Racked up a whopping 21 (credited) hits while adding yet another beauty of a shootout goal and averaging between 15 and 20 minutes a night... but still has just one point since February 7th and hasn't done much else, either.
Marcus Johansson Added two more assists, both on Ovechkin tallies, but his week will be remembered for a) getting run over on multiple occasions and b) the penalty shot in Philadelphia, the first of his career, in which he was tripped before he could get the actual shot off.
Mike Knuble Continued his hot hand, with a goal against the Red Wings and an assist against Winnipeg to give him five points in his last seven games - a performance that was good enough to merit bumping Knuble back up to the top line by the end of the week. It also incidentally makes up about a third of his production for the season.
Brooks Laich Continues to put in the hard work we're used to seeing, adding two assists to give him seven points over the last ten games. But he struggled in the dot, winning just 42% of the 67 faceoffs he took (including just 7 of 22 in the defensive zone), and it's hard not to question why he dropped the gloves Friday night when his team was up by two at the time - and needed the win.
Alex Ovechkin The captain has stepped up his game big time, with seven goals and an assist to extend his goal-scoring streak to five games. Sunday was easily his most complete game, as he fired fourteen shots on net (hitting it five times and bringing his SOG total for the week up to an Ovechkin-esque 22) while also making a sparkling defensive play to bail out a Wideman bobble and blocking another shot for good measure. He can't do it all on his own, as the team's 2-0-2 record this week proves, but having him firing on all cylinders is only good for the Caps.
Mathieu Perreault Picked up his first assist of the month against Detroit before adding another one against Winnipeg and wrapping the week up with a power play goal against the Wild. Continues to do the little things - including going to the net on a regular basis - en route to absolutely demolishing his career-best numbers, but wasn't as visible this week as he has been in the past.
Alexander Semin After a somewhat rough week (and a brief absence with the mysterious lower-body injury), Semin seems to be getting back to his usual self, picking up at least one assist in three of the four games this week - including a seeing eye pass to set up Chimera's goal on Sunday. He was also on the ice for five Caps' goals and just one goal-against and fired eight shots on net.
Joel Ward A healthy scratch on Monday, Ward played a solid game against the Flyers before missing both weekend games with what appears to be a lower-body injury. Day-to-day... not that any of us were expecting some other timetable.

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