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Capitals Ups and Downs: Week 7

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
Braden Holtby Capped off another strong week (3-0-0/2.25/.937) with a regular-season career-high 46 stops against the Blues and is now 6-1-0/2.09/.940 in his last seven games. Holtby is seeing a ton of minutes and rubber, but he's not going to be sitting any time soon playing the way he is.
Michal Neuvirth Continues to get the best seat in the house while Holtby gets games, but has been solid when called upon lately, posting a .927 save percentage in his three starts since October 27 (with just one win to show for it).
Karl Alzner For the past two games, the 25-year-old Alzner was the most experienced player on the Caps' blueline, which is... something. Also something is the fact that Alzner wasn't on the ice for a single goal-against last week while playing 23 minutes per night and doing it in the top pair at evens and on the penalty kill (where he played a hair under 15 minutes of pristine puck). Not enough for you? How about assists on the game-tying goal Friday night and the game-winning tally on Sunday, and a plus-two rating in each game?
John Carlson Anything Karl can do, John can do better; John can do anything better than Karl. The American half of the Caps' top D duo was similarly unscored upon in more than 27 minutes per night (picking up some additional time on the power-play and playing a career-high 32:26 in Detroit), matched Alzner's two helpers and plus-two's, added a couple of goals as well as ten blocked shots, and was on the ice for seven of the Caps' 11 goals for the week. Guess who's going to Sochi?
John Erskine Has Wednesday circled on the calendar for a possible return, but will Adam Oates be ready to throw him back in there? Should he be?
Mike Green Continued his quest to be hammered by every opposing forward in the NHL on Tuesday night against Columbus, and got the the next two games (at least) off to recover and get ready to be hit hard again.
Jack Hillen Still hurt. Y'know, FYI.
Steve Oleksy Helpers in each of the last two games give Oleksy the team lead in even-strength assists from the back end by two, and with only one minus outing in nine November games, it's hard to ask or expect much more from a third-pairing rearguard.
Dmitry Orlov Down, up, down, up, down, up and nary an NHL game to show for it.
Nate Schmidt Providing less offense but perhaps more defense than expected, the rookie blueliner continues to quickly acclimate to the League.
Tyson Strachan Recalled to replace the ailing Green, Strachan provided a steady, physical presence alongside the decidedly non-physical Schmidt.
Alexander Urbom Every once in a while, Urbom takes the slapper you wish you'd see more of and then plays an unremarkable rest of the game. Urbom may or may not be Swedish for Jurcina.
Nicklas Backstrom Snapped a three-game scoreless streak with an assist and the shootout game-winner in Detroit (earning himself the game's first star), and followed it up with a three-assist night against St. Louis that was somewhat overshadowed by Holtby's and Ovechkin's performances. Since he entered the League in 2007, no one has more three-helper games than Backstrom; not Crosby, not Sedin, not Thornton... no one.
Jay Beagle Currently the mayor of Healthyscratchville, Beagle hasn't seen game action in over a month now.
Troy Brouwer With just one even-strength point on the season (be sure to wish it a happy one-month anniversary tomorrow), Brouwer continues to provide next to nothing at five-a-side. Let's hammer this point home - in 269 even-strength minutes, Brouwer has one point. By contrast, Joel Ward has played six fewer minutes and has ten even-strength points; Aaron Volpatti has as many even-strength points as Brouwer in 96 minutes. And before going to "low on-ice shooting percentage" as a defense, note that Brouwer's is higher than Ovechkin's. Brouwer doesn't have a point of any kind in the last four games.
Jason Chimera Assists in the first and last game of the week leave Chimera one point shy of his total from a season ago, and while he's gone eight games without a goal, so long as his line keeps humming like it has been, no one should care. (Chimera was on the ice for all three Wings goals on Friday night, but two of them were on the power play.)
Martin Erat Picked up a beautiful assist against the Jackets (his only point in the last eight games), but failed to generate anything riding shotgun with Backstrom and Ovechkin, so he was bumped down to play alongside Laich and Brouwer. Surely that will get him going.
Eric Fehr Has three points in his last two games... which came more than two weeks ago. Odd, if Fehr is indeed healthy.
Mikhail Grabovski Call it what you want, Grabovski's is the second line. Two more goals and an assist last week have Grabo one point behind linemate Chimera for the team lead in even-strength points.
Marcus Johansson Made an unreal play on the Ovechkin overtime game-winner against Columbus, out-maneuvered a Selke winner to set-up Ovechkin and start the comeback in Detroit, and had a boring ol' secondary assist on Sunday. Johansson has assists in six of his last seven games, and eight points over that span as his breakout season continues.
Brooks Laich Picked up an assist against the Jackets and opened the scoring against the Wings with a terrific effort, but is still struggling to find any sort of traction on a line with Brouwer.
Michael Latta What if Latta is the best player that was traded in the Erat-Filip Forsberg deal? The rookie pivot scored his first NHL goal to complete the comeback on Friday, and now has three points in his last seven games in small minutes that include some penalty-killing responsibilities. (OK, if David Poile called and begged a little, we'd let him have Latta back for Forsberg.)
Alex Ovechkin Scored a huge goal in each of the week's first two games, and then personally hunted down and caught (figuratively speaking) the League's then-leading goal-scorer in their head-to-head match-up in the third with a pair of tallies. Dude's simply unstoppable right now, and with a nationally televised date with the Penguins up next, you get the sense that the best is yet to come.
Aaron Volpatti Settling in nicely on a fairly effective fourth line, but should thank his lucky stars each and every night that Eric Fehr is right-handed.
Joel Ward Scored shorthanded against Columbus and added an assist against St. Louis, which sandwiched an off-night in Detroit during which Ward was on the ice for all three Wings goals. Have expectations been heightened to the point that that's an "average" week for Ward? For the time being, at least, they have (though regression is always just around the corner).
Tom Wilson Took a couple of bad penalties in Detroit, but took a good one against St. Louis when he took Ryan Reaves to task for an iffy hit on Backstrom. The points will come (or they won't), but the chivalry is already there, and that goes a long way.

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