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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 2

The latest edition of our weekly look at individual Washington Capitals ups and downs.

Photo by Clyde Caplan/

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth Neuvirth got his first start of the season on Thursday against Montreal and earned a second on Friday in Jersey and a third on Sunday versus Buffalo. And while the his stat line doesn't sparkle (yet), no one has been more responsible for the three points the team has earned than Neuvirth, who capped the week with a brilliant game against the Sabres... and the Caps' first win of 2013.
Braden Holtby Holtby hasn't been quite as bad as his numbers would indicate, but for a guy whose NHL career to date has been largely characterized by perhaps not being quite as good as his numbers, this is part of the regression we've all been waiting for. Hopefully it doesn't last long.
Karl Alzner After being on the ice for seven of the eight goals the Caps allowed over the first five periods of the week, Alzner was split from usual partner Carlson and was only on for two (one at 3-on-5) over the week's final seven periods. So if the problem with the pair wasn't Alzner...
John Carlson ... it was - and maybe still is - Carlson. After getting a new partner, Carlson was on the ice for all three Devils goals on Friday night and the first Sabres tally, which ran his personal streak to eight-straight opposition markers for which he was on the ice (three were shorthanded, one was two men down). Was he to blame on each of the goals? Of course not. But he's now been on the ice for 13 of the 19 goals the Caps have allowed this season, which is... something. Anyway, we just want "last year's playoffs" Carlson back, and we've gotten "last year's regular season" Carlson so far.
John Erskine Saw his first action of the season on Friday night and followed that up with something even more improbable on Sunday - a goal, his first since the end of the 2010-11 season. Good on you, Ersk.
Mike Green Had both a power-play assist and the game-tying goal in the second-half of the third period in Jersey and teed one up beautifully for his captain's first goal of the season on Sunday. But more than those big points, Green is skating well (and a lot - he's among the League-leaders in ice time) and was on the ice for five Caps goals last week and just one goal-against.
Roman Hamrlik Wasn't stand-out atrocious in either of the week's first two games, but Adam Oates went in a different direction on Friday night and it wasn't broke so he didn't fix it Sunday.
Jack Hillen If and when Hillen gets healthy, there are an awful lot of back-end blueliners here.
Tomas Kundratek Hasn't looked out-of-place... but that may be a bit of damning by faint praise. Kundratek hasn't been able to replicate the somewhat out-of-nowhere success he's had in Hershey in this NHL stint (despite getting decent power-play time), but his familiarity with Oates and Calle Johansson from earlier in the season probably help his cause right now.
Dmitry Orlov There's "hope" that he'll be able to start skating again shortly after the AHL All-Star Break, but we'd hope there'd be more than hope by this point.
Tom Poti See Hamrlik, Roman. With Hamrlik and Poti - the Caps' two oldest players - in the press box, that's more than 2,000 NHL games (and a pro-rated $6 million in salary) watching in civvies.
Jeff Schultz Got back in the lineup against the Devils and Sabres and played two solid Schultz games (i.e. you didn't notice him much... though his three blocked shots on Sunday were worth a mention).
Nicklas Backstrom With just two points through five games (a pair of assists Tuesday night against the Jets), Backstrom has only for brief stretches looked like the player with whom we're all familiar. But those stretches seem to be coming more frequently, and it's really only a matter of time before he's truly back... right?
Jay Beagle As the Caps' top (healthy) penalty-killing forward and with next-to-no power-play time, any week in which Beagle is on the ice for just one less goal-for than goals-against, he's probably doing his job. That was the case this week (one goal-for, two against, one of which was on the penalty-kill, and 64% of 53 faceoffs won, including 67% in the defensive zone), and Beagle was rewarded with a new, high-price left-wing for a while. Strange days...
Troy Brouwer Keeps getting top-six opportunities, but isn't doing much of anything with them (though he did have a nice garbage-time power-play goal against Winnipeg). Brouwer has now gone 21 regular-season games without an even-strength goal (and has just the one power-play score over that span) and has just five goals of any kind in his last 45 regular-season games. To say that's not good enough would be an understatement.
Jason Chimera Picked up an assist against Montreal and another couple against Buffalo as part of the Caps' best line on Sunday. For the week, Chimera was on the ice for those three Caps goals (all at five-aside) and none by the bad guys. Hard to ask for much more from a third-liner.
Joey Crabb Broke the shutout against Montreal and got praised for his effort... and hopefully getting praised for effort is a thing of the past for this club.
Eric Fehr Can Fehr be a contributor as a fourth-liner? Because that seems to be his role for now, and the early returns aren't particularly favorable.
Matt Hendricks Went goal-fight-fight in the home opener and then dropped 'em again two nights later. If each of his teammates put in half the effort Hendricks does on a nightly basis, this team would be in good shape.
Marcus Johansson Within a span of eight days, Johansson went from the top line to the fourth line to the press box. He's had some bad luck, but even more bad play, and has been on the ice for six opposition tallies (only one on the power-play) and nary a Caps goal.
Brooks Laich The Caps obviously miss Laich terribly, probably nowhere more than on their woeful penalty kill... and in the locker room... and in the post-game media scrums.
Alex Ovechkin Finally looked like Alex Ovechkin again on Sunday (though the real Alex Ovechkin doesn't miss empty netters), but one even-strength point, one goal and one win obviously ain't gonna cut it over the next five games.
Mathieu Perreault Perreault is in a spot. He needs ice time and decent linemates to produce, but in order to earn ice time and decent linemates, he needs to produce. Oh, and publicly voicing your displeasure isn't going to help things either.
Mike Ribeiro Know which line has been the Caps' best so far? Whichever one Ribeiro has been on. He leads the team in scoring, has been on the ice for more goals-for (seven) than any other Cap and has yet to be on for an even-strength goal-against. Ribeiro is playing like the second-line center this team has been missing all these years.
Joel Ward In five games, Ward is half-way to his 2011-12 goal total, which says more about his two coaches for the respective seasons than it does Ward - as Mike Vogel points out, Ward has already seen more power-play time in 2013 than he did all of last season. He's also been the anti-Johansson so far - whereas has been on the ice for six goals-against and none for, Ward has been on for six-for and none against. This is what he got that nice contract for.
Wojtek Wolski Well here's a disturbing trend - no points and a minus-one in each of the last four games for Wolski. But if he keeps shooting like he has (15 shots on goal in those four games), at least the first part of that double-dip of downers is likely to reverse itself.