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Capitals Ups and Downs: Week 8

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

Clyde Caplan /

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Braden Holtby Needed to be much better early on against the Penguins, although he did face 40 shots, so it could have been worse had he been worse. For whatever reason, Pittsburgh continues to be his Kryptonite (and we all hope he finds a cure for that little ailment, and fast). He was given the chance to bounce back against the Maple Leafs on Saturday and did just that, ceding just one goal on the power play before getting outdueled in the shootout by James Reimer. A 2.40/.926 week is only bad if the bar is set incredibly high... which to be fair, it might be.
Michal Neuvirth Had a rough start against the Canadiens Friday night, and would probably like at least one of the goals back that Montreal scored in that opening frame - those early goals put the Caps in a hole out of which they couldn't climb, although given his workload lately, a little rust is to be expected. He did bounce back nicely, turning aside 18 shots in the final two periods (14 in the middle frame alone) to keep the game close.
Karl Alzner Wasn't great against the Pens (although really, was anyone?), on for two of the four Pittsburgh goals. Only one was at even-strength, though, and he went on to have a solid - albeit quiet - week the rest of the way.
John Carlson As Alzner goes, so goes Carlson, as he was burned for the same two goals his defensive partner was Wednesday night. But he did balance that out with a couple of assists in the comeback attempt against Montreal - which, after a slow start offensively, gives him points in four of his last six games and seven of his last eleven.
John Erskine Doesn't sound like he's going to be back anytime in the near future. Which is what it is.
Mike Green Missed three games, including the Pittsburgh game with a lower-body injury before making his return against the Habs Friday night. Probably could have done a better job taking away Travis Moen before Moen opened the scoring for Montreal, but was much more defensively sound against the Leafs - and had a pretty nice aerial pass to set up the Caps' only goal.
Jack Hillen Miss u, Jack.
Steve Oleksy On for the first Penguins goal on Wednesday night, but Green's return to the lineup meant someone needed to sit out, and that someone was Oleksy... and was again on Saturday.
Dmitry Orlov Called up, sent down, called up, sent down... and as of this morning, called up again. What's Russian for "yo-yo"?
Nate Schmidt Had some pretty awful Corsi/Fenwick numbers against the Pens and Habs and didn't look quite as strong without Green by his side.
Tyson Strachan After a quietly solid start to his tenure with the Caps, Strachan was on for four of the eight goals the team gave up this week and one of just four Caps to be on the wrong side of 50% as far as possession is concerned in the shot attempt-fest in Toronto... which earned him a trip back to Hershey.
Alexander Urbom Logged a couple of shots, a couple of hits and a couple of goals-against on the week but nothing much to write home about overall - good or bad.
Nicklas Backstrom In a week that saw Ovechkin score three times, it's very strange to see Backstrom without a single point. It's just the second time he's gone more than two games without a point this season... although his last three-game pointless streak was less than two weeks ago. That would be more troubling if he wasn't playing well overall, but aside from the Pittsburgh game where his entire line was pretty well shut down, he's continued to be one of the team's best players. Still, we expect more and putting up a big goose egg on the week is un-Backstrom-like.
Jay Beagle Continues to cool his heels in a perch high atop the ice. Hard to argue with Michael Latta taking over at Beagle's fourth-line center spot, but at some point the Caps need to either get Beagle into a game or find him somewhere else to play - because right now he's not doing anyone any good.
Troy Brouwer Dropped the gloves with P.K. Subban and then snapped a five-game pointless streak with an assist on Ovechkin's first goal Friday night... on the power play. Of course. Looked slightly better on the revamped second line on Saturday (and had the highest CF% among all forwards, believe it or not), but still isn't producing at the rate the Caps would like to see (i.e. any rate at all) and is stuck on just one even-strength point to date, a goal over a month ago.
Jason Chimera No points in three games for Chimera, his longest drought in about two weeks, but didn't miss a step with a new center against the Leafs, even if the goals didn't materialize. And besides, he wasn't going to maintain that torrid point-scoring pace he set early on and we all knew it.
Martin Erat Had a much better night (at least possession-wise) playing at center against the Canadiens than he did as a winger against the Pens... but then that's a pretty low bar, and at this point simply being strong on possession isn't enough. The team needs production. Also took a penalty in each of the two games and then became the odd-man out on Saturday when the lines got shuffled. Hopefully just a one-time thing, but these days, who knows?
Eric Fehr Made his return to the lineup against Toronto Saturday night after sitting out almost a month as a healthy scratch, and generated some good scoring chances... but also took the team's lone penalty that resulted in the team's lone goal-against, so there's that.
Mikhail Grabovski Had a strong week in the faceoff circle, winning 20 of the 37 draws he took this week (including three of four against Sidney Crosby on Wednesday), and picked up an assist on Ovechkin's second goal against Montreal. Also bounced right back after taking a skate to the face Saturday night.
Marcus Johansson Like Backstrom (and just about everyone else on the team), went pointless through the week's three games. And like Backstrom, he played well, but we expect more from him.
Brooks Laich Looked markedly different as a third-line center Saturday night (weird, right?) but the results were pretty much the same. Rebounded from an absolutely abysmal night in terms of possession against the Penguins with much, much better efforts in the week's final two games. Now, let's see if the points start to rebound, as well.
Michael Latta Used minimally but makes the most of his time with scrappy efforts. Carry on, Michael.
Alex Ovechkin The Caps only managed to score three goals this week... and all three of them came off the stick of Ovechkin, who not only stayed red-hot but also became the League's first 20-goal scorer (the first time he's ever done that). And it took him an entire 22 games, the slowpoke.
Aaron Volpatti If any of the forwards can be blamed for Beau Bennett's goal Wednesday night, it's probably Volpatti, who seemed slightly lost on the play - but other than that he's continued to be exactly what we expect him to be (if not a bit better).
Joel Ward Not the best week in his own end, as Ward was on the ice for half the goals the team gave up - two in each of the first two games.
Tom Wilson Ten minutes on Wednesday, then about five minutes in each of the week's final two games. This is all just part of a bigger plan for Wilson that I'm just not seeing... right?

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