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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 22

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March 4, 2012; Washington DC, USA; Washington Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer (20) fights with Philadelphia Flyers left wing Scott Hartnell (19) at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE
March 4, 2012; Washington DC, USA; Washington Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer (20) fights with Philadelphia Flyers left wing Scott Hartnell (19) at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth Got hung out to dry on both Islander goals Tuesday night but stood tall and backstopped the team to a comeback, a game-tying goal and a much-needed overtime victory. He then proceeded to get lit up by the Devils a few nights later, although to be fair, the support in front of him wasn't much better that night and only one of those was really all him. Wrapped up the week with a strong performance against the Flyers in which he gave up just one deflection goal... and still couldn't get the win. Because it's kind of hard to win when your team can't score.
Tomas Vokoun A hot streak by his backup saw Vokoun start the week on then bench once again. He probably would have seen some action on Friday once the Devils started their rout had he not injured himself in warmups. Lower body, day-to-day, you know the drill.
Karl Alzner On for almost half the goals-against this week, which sounds worse than it is considering the team only ("only"?) gave up eight total. He also managed to be on for one rare goal-for, so there's that. Fun fact revisited: last week we noted that he hadn't registered more than one shot in a game since December 15; that streak ended yesterday, as he picked up a whopping two against the Flyers.
John Carlson Continued to be solid if not spectacular (which is money compared to how he was playing for most of the season), with a week that saw him on for three goals-against like his D partner but also on for two of the three goals scored by the Caps on Tuesday (and therefore the entire week). Oddly enough this improvement in his play coincides with the return of Mike Green and a slight scaleback of minutes to a much more manageable 18-20 per night. Strange, no?
John Erskine Continues to sit out, wrapping up February with just one game played, and appears to be the Caps' permanent 8th defenseman for the foreseeable future.
Mike Green His wheels are slowly returning but his timing still seems to be off a bit - to be expected, but it's cost the team a few times. He was slow to respond on a Josh Bailey rush against the Islanders, resulting in the opening tally, and was victimized twice by the Devils - what's more, he still hasn't registered a point since October and needs to get it going, particularly with the extra man. But he did finish out the week with a strong performance against the Flyers, so perhaps it's only a matter of time.
Roman Hamrlik Made it past the trade deadline without having to fill out change-of-address cards but continues to be scratched and hasn't played a game in two weeks.
Dmitry Orlov Has gradually returned to his shifty, sneaky, defensively solid ways, not shying away from hits and showing off that footspeed and that shot that we'd missed for a couple of weeks. Didn't factor into the scoring this week, but not many did, and at least he seems to be hitting the net on a more regular basis. And speaking of hitting, Orlov was credited with 10 this week - more than anyone not named Alex Ovechkin.
Tom Poti Believe it or not, was not mentioned in a single one of the trade rumors floating around pre-deadline.
Jeff Schultz Got turned inside-out on the Islanders' first goal but made it through the week otherwise unscathed (despite a pretty lousy game against the Flyers), even managing to be credited with more hits this week (5) than takeaways (3) or blocked shots (4).
Dennis Wideman The deadline's come and gone and Wideman's still here... but he's not playing much better now that it's in the past. He did pick up his first assist in eight games on Brouwer's huge game-tying goal Tuesday night, though, and was "only" on for three of the eight goals-against - a third of his total from last week - so there's that.
Keith Aucoin Skated alongside Alex Ovechkin Tuesday night, sped off to Hershey at dawn the next day to be with his wife for the birth of their first child, then made the trek back in time for an eventful Devils game Friday and a pressbox view of Sunday's loss. Quite the week, indeed. Congrats to the new papa.
Nicklas Backstrom The closest he's come to playing hockey in weeks was a floor hockey game at a local elementary school... and that ain't good.
Jay Beagle The fourth line has easily been the team's best line through three games this week, and Beagle's energy and ability to cycle the puck - even if it didn't result in a goal - was a big reason for that. He still only has one assist on the season, but his five shots on goal against the Isles led the team (and set a personal season-high).
Troy Brouwer Was teetering on the edge of going goalless in February until a two-goal outburst not only got him out of his drought but also led his team to an important overtime victory (and provided two-thirds of the team's offense for the week). After a lackluster performance against the Devils he called out his team for giving up, then backed up his words with a scrappy, physical performance against the Flyers that included a couple of bone-jarring hits and a fight against Scott Hartnell.
Jason Chimera Continues to provide a physical, speedy element to an entertaining line that has him skating alongside Semin and Perreault, and continues to chip in on offense with an assist on Brouwer's first goal Tuesday night, but was largely held in check the rest of the week.
Jeff Halpern Came in just over 50% in the circle this week (14-for-27) and was on for just one goal-against, a power play tally by Parise, while also being on for a goal-for. Also continues to play a big role in the fourth-line dominance we've seen over the last week or two... just more of the same, under-the-radar play we've come to expect.
Matt Hendricks Kind of a rough week for Hendricks overall, as he took three minor penalties (including the one the Devils scored on Friday night) and was on the ice for a couple of goals-against, as well.
Marcus Johansson Consistency - or lack thereof - continues to be a factor for Johansson, as he still doesn't seem as sure of himself with the puck as he should - which is a problem considering it's his job, among other things, to get that puck to Ovechkin. He did have some good moments against the Flyers, though, which is worth mentioning simply because of how frequently he was up against guys who towered over him in that game.
Mike Knuble Survived the trade deadline and followed it up with two more trips to the pressbox before finally getting a sweater against his former team on Sunday. The scratches did seem to motivate him, as he had a scrappy game in which he won more battles than he lost... but he's not going to excel in a grinder role and yet may simply not have enough left in the tank to do anything else.
Brooks Laich Picked up just his fourth point of February in the last game of the month and followed it up with two more pointless games. That includes his horrible performance against the Devils that saw him on for three of New Jersey's five goals, one of which came about after his turnover at the blue line on the power play.
Alex Ovechkin Tuesday's OT game-winner was a fond reminder of just how talented - and timely - Ovechkin can be. Of course, the way this season has gone that game was naturally followed by a game in which he was rendered ineffective by the Devils' defense and a game against Philly in which he was benched missed a few shifts because of his part in the Flyers' only goal line-matching. To his credit, he seemed extra motivated by the benching line-matching and played hard the rest of the way... but when his team has been shutout in two straight for the first time in five years, he has to shoulder some of the blame. After all, it's his team.
Mathieu Perreault Followed up a two-goal week with assists on one-third of the team's offensive output (...sounds good that way, no?) and won just over 50% of the 28 faceoffs he took this week while generating some good offensive chances and sustained offensive pressure. Which at this point is about what we expect from him... so keep it up, Mathieu.
Alexander Semin Ten shots on goal but no points over this three-game stretch for Semin - the first time he's gone pointless in three or more games since the end of November. Which is pretty darn impressive.
Joel Ward Saw his meager two-game point streak snapped Tuesday night, but continued to play hard all week. Also of note, he was not on the ice for a single goal-against this week (albeit in limited ice time) and has now been on for just one in his last nineteen games.

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