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Capitals Ups and Downs: Week 11

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

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Braden Holtby Ceded three goals on just eight shots in 11:07 of work this week before getting the hook Tuesday night and finding himself on the bench for the next two. He's certainly struggled of late, but the goals he gave up to Tampa (and his early exit from the game) are probably more on the team than on him. Expect to see him back between the pipes sooner rather than later.
Philipp Grubauer Calmed things down on Tuesday night long enough for his team to get back into the game, giving up just two goals on 34 shots, then followed that up with a stellar 39-save performance in a losing effort on Friday. Wasn't as solid against the Flyers Sunday afternoon, but did enough to secure a huge comeback victory in his third straight shootout. With Neuvirth on the mend, he's probably headed back to the Bears in the next few days - but so far, so good for Mr. Grubauer.
Michal Neuvirth The former Calder Cup MVP headed back to Hershey for a conditioning stint over the weekend, picking up a win over Binghamton Saturday night - he probably felt right at home, as well, facing 37 shots on the night.
Karl Alzner Has been on for at least one goal-against in each of his last five games (and two on Sunday afternoon), and needed to be better on at least one of the Flyers goals. He was also absolutely demolished possession-wise against Florida - everyone was, of course, but he was one of just three players to have a CF% below 20% on the night and didn't crack 40% in any of the three games. Granted, that'll happen when it's your job to be out against the other team's top lines, but still.
John Carlson We've said it before, but when John Carlson is on the ice, things happen... of course, part of that is because he's just on the ice a lot. This was another week where he saw action at both ends of the ice, on for six goals-against and eight goals-for. He also assisted on two of the eight, including Ovechkin's last-minute game-tying goal Tuesday night which snapped a five-game pointless streak.
John Erskine Made his return to the lineup Sunday after missing a month and a half, was given limited ice time (just over 12 minutes on the night)... and proceeded to be on the ice for two of the Flyers' four goals. Welcome back, John.
Mike Green Had an absolutely atrocious start to Tuesday's game in which he racked up 18 penalty minutes (during which the Lightning scored twice) and was completely lost on Tampa's third goal. Bounced back well enough in the second half of that game before struggling again on Friday night, albeit not nearly as badly. His performance against the Flyers was much better, and included his second goal of the season to kick off the team's rally in the third, so perhaps things are turning around. We hope.
Jack Hillen As the Caps continue to move through a revolving door of blueliners with minimal NHL experience, it's hard not to miss Hillen just a little...
Steve Oleksy No points for ol' Norris this week, and he proved to be a bit more of a punching bag than a dance partner for Wayne Simmonds yesterday... but Oleksy-for-Simmonds for five minutes is a trade we'll take any day. Not to mention the fact that he was one of just two players to be on the good side of 50% in both CF% and FF% against Florida - which, considering how lopsided the shot attempts were in that game, is not nothing.
Dmitry Orlov Pretty amazing to watch the Dmitry Orlov show over the last few weeks, no? He's turned what could have been a derailed season into a very impressive stretch of games where he's at times been the team's best player, particularly against Florida. And he's been rewarded, first with a promotion to the top-four defensemen, then with more ice time (his 21:08 last night clocking in as his highest total since March 2012) and finally with his first goal of the season against the Flyers.
Nate Schmidt Orlov's performance and Schmidt's waiver-exempt status made him a pretty likely candidate to be sent down once Erskine returned to the lineup, and it won't hurt him to get a bit more time in the AHL. That said, if it were up to us, we might have opted to keep him and send someone else. Like maybe...
Alexander Urbom ...this guy, instead. Have to think the team is afraid to lose him on waivers and that alone is keeping him here over someone like Schmidt. Because with three more healthy scratches under his belt this week, it's certainly not to play.
Nicklas Backstrom Seriously, how good is Nicklas Backstrom? Well, after being held pointless in five straight games, he now has 12 points in his last seven games, nine of which came in this week's three games. And when Orlov scored yesterday, it was the first goal all week on which Backstrom didn't score or pick up an assist - that's all nine goals up to that point, including two that he personally scored (and his goal against the Panthers was something particularly special). Super Swede!
Jay Beagle Wasn't on for a single goal-against on the week and continues to be his usual, hard-working self... although no offense to Beagle, but we really, really don't want to see him as the team's second-line center
Troy Brouwer Picked up an assist on the power play (where else?) against the Lightning, and went on to score a pretty nice shootout-winning goal. Also dropped the gloves with Erik Gudbranson Friday night in defense of a teammate, and put up some surprisingly awesome possession numbers against the Flyers. He's still not making teams pay for letting him set up in the slot on the power play, but all in all not a bad week for Brouwer.
Jason Chimera After a brief run where he had points in four of six games, he's now been held off the scoresheet in three straight, and took a couple of penalties against the Flyers. He's still getting his chances, but after a torrid start it does appear that our old friend regression has struck.
Martin Erat He's getting the ice time and he's getting the linemates... the points, not so much. And since he's not chipping in on the offense, the expectation is that he at least keep the other team from scoring, right? Not so much there, either, as he was on for four goals-against on the week.
Eric Fehr Had just one assist on the week, but it was a fairly important one, as it set up Orlov's goal to bring the Caps within one of the Flyers yesterday - nice to see after taking a pretty nasty hit to the head against the Panthers. He also threw in two shootout goals (one which was very nice, the other which... well, it crossed the goal line, we'll leave it at that). Another solid week for the once-scratched forward.
Mikhail Grabovski His play to set up Backstrom's goal Friday night was almost prettier than the goal itself (and that was a fairly pretty goal); it also gave him points in four straight games, and in six of his last seven. Unfortunately he missed the crazy one yesterday with the flu - and it's amazing how noticeable his absence was.
Marcus Johansson Picked up an assist in each of the three games this week and added the game's opening tally yesterday... a goal which was taken away from him and given back about 157 times in the last 12 hours, but ultimately appears to be his. Nice effort to get to the front of the net and excellent hand-eye coordination to deflect Ovechkin's pass into the net for the goal, his first in eight games. And with an assist later in the game, he has his first multipoint game since November 7.
Brooks Laich Miss u, Brooks.
Michael Latta After a two-week visit to Hershey, Latta returned to the lineup in time to face his favorite opponent... and played just long enough to get into a fight with Zac Rinaldo and to sustain a lower-body injury. So there's that.
Alex Ovechkin Put the team on his back and carried them to a shootout win on Tuesday with the third (!) four-goal game of his career, including a power play goal that gave him yet another franchise record. After a relatively quiet night in Florida, he was back at it again against the Flyers (albeit with a bit more help), swooping in to tie up the game in the final minute of regulation for the second time in a week. With that goal he's now at 27 on the season - in a ridiculous 31 games - and is at #398 for his career. Stay tuned...
Aaron Volpatti Continues to be a decent energy guy in limited fourth-line minutes, but not much else... although usually we like to see that CF% in the double-digits, at least. Yikes.
Joel Ward Got victimized a bit in his own end this week, but didn't seem directly to blame for most (if any) of them - and he picked up two crucial assists against the Flyers, while adding a big game-tying goal in his own right against Florida. Continues to be the jack-of-all-trades they've needed, chipping in on both the power play and penalty kill and being a net-crashing pain in the neck for opponents at even strength.
Tom Wilson Oh, Tom. Has just one shot on net in the last month and continues to log just around 5-6 minutes a night - and that's with all of the overtime games the team has played lately. He's not even really dropping the mitts anymore (although that part we don't mind so much). But it's better for his development that he stays here, so... way to keep that bench nice and toasty, I guess?