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Capitals Ups and Downs: Week 9

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 Got little help against Ottawa, but wasn't particularly sharp in his own right even before letting in a soft game-winner with under three minutes left and was set to get Friday night (at least) off before being pressed into action for both games of a weekend back-to-back. Holtby responded with a pair of huge wins (one in the shootout, one in overtime), stopping 72 of 76 shots (94.7%). Solid rebound.
Philipp Grubauer Recalled on an emergency basis on Saturday to back up Holtby on the Island (where, incidentally, he made his only NHL start to date). We'll see how long he's up with the big club (at least through Friday) and if he gets any game action while he's here.
Brett Leonhardt The team's video coach filled in as Holtby's emergency back-up on Friday night and provided us with an all-time great photo op as he was pulling double duty. That gets an up arrow.
Michal Neuvirth Stepped on a puck while taking the ice for warmups on Friday and missed the weekend as a result, marking yet another missed opportunity to gain some ground in net after an off night for Holtby. He's on the IR now, eligible to return on Saturday.
Karl Alzner Was on the ice the Senator's first four goals (including three on the power play), but still had a solid week, most notably carrying a stout team-high 63.6% Fenwick at five-on-five (61.1% in close situations) and making an underrated play on Backstrom's game-tying shorty Saturday night. There'll be no rush to reunite him with usual running mate Carlson if this level of play keeps up.
John Carlson When Carlson's on the ice, things happen, and this week they happened a lot, as the Caps' top blueliner was on for seven of the nine goals the Caps scored and six of the ten they allowed. His game-tying goal with three-and-a-half minutes left against Ottawa (his only point of the week) looked like it would be enough to earn the Caps a point, but alas...
John Erskine Would probably be getting top-four minutes if he was healthy, which says a lot about a lot.
Mike Green The good? A team-high 67.2% Fenwick in close situations for the week and very strong possession numbers across the board. (Also, a nice kick save.) The bad? His play on the Clutterbuck shorty on Saturday night, not to mention an inability to, y'know, produce actual results on offense. But the offense will come for Green if he can keep that Corsi at 58% (which is where it's been over his last nine games).
Jack Hillen Would probably be getting top-six minutes if he was healthy, which says a lot about a lot.
Steve Oleksy Five-straight scratches for Oleksy, who wasn't playing as poorly as that would suggest.
Dmitry Orlov Dramatic week for Orlov, whose agent made it known that the Russian rearguard wanted out of D.C. just days before his (somewhat nondescript) season debut against the Isles.
Nate Schmidt Picked up his first point in 14 games with a secondary assist on the game-winner on Saturday, and continues to have the ups and downs you'd expect.
Tyson Strachan Went after Ottawa's Chris Neil for dumping Schmidt unceremoniously along the boards in his most noteworthy moment of the week (unless you consider looking terrible on Montreal's first goal to be noteworthy).
Alexander Urbom Speaking of terrible... Look, the Caps took a low-risk, low-reward gamble on Urbom and it didn't pan out. Time to move on.
Nicklas Backstrom Had you realized that his miracle shorthanded tally on Saturday night snapped a 12-game goal-less streak for Backstrom and was his first point in six games? Or that he only won 33% of his faceoffs for the week (26% in the offensive zone). Or that he wasn't on the ice for an even-strength goal all week? The underlying numbers are strong, so that's encouraging, but just as Backstrom is under-credited when things are going well, he's under-criticized when they aren't.
Jay Beagle Finally got back in the lineup and looked fine in doing so... but fourth-line center fine, not third-line center fine.
Troy Brouwer No Cap skater was on the ice for more goals-against last week than Brouwer, but three of those six were power-play goals and another an empty netter. Brouwer picked up his first even-strength assist of the season (yes, really) on Friday night, doubling his even-strength point-production for the campaign, but perhaps playing with Grabovski and Fehr will help him get on track.
Jason Chimera Assisted on the Backstrom goal and on one against Ottawa, but had a couple of rough nights, possession-wise, in the two home games... which is somewhat to be expected when skating on what is the closest thing the team has to a shutdown line.
Martin Erat Beat Orlov to the "trade me" punch but found himself back in the lineup (albeit on the fourth line) a few days later and even picked up an assist. Who knows how this saga is going to end, but hopefully the ugliest parts of it are behind us.
Eric Fehr With two goals and an assist last week (and a shootout goal, for good measure), Fehr now has six points in his last six games. Why there was a three-week gap between games two and three of that span is still anyone's guess, but Fehr seems to really be meshing nicely with Mikhail Grabovski right now playing on - gasp! - the left side, despite being right-handed.
Mikhail Grabovski Had the game-tying goal, the primary assist on the Caps' other tally and the game-deciding shootout marker against the team that drafted him on Friday night, and set up the Ovechkin game-winner on Saturday night. That'll do.
Marcus Johansson Scored a power-play goal against the Sens, but here are the week's two big numbers for Johansson: a team-high 5-on-5 Corsi (66.7% close, 61.2% overall) and the highest three-game shot total (11) of his career.
Brooks Laich Just when Laich seemed to be settling into a groove centering the third line, that lingering lower-body injury cropped up, forcing him out of the weekend's games... at least.
Michael Latta Sent to Hershey in order to make the roster shuffle work, but he's been good (including his helper on Fehr's goal against Ottawa) and will be back.
Alex Ovechkin Put the Islanders out of their misery in overtime on Saturday night, but didn't register a five-on-five point for the week (and only notched one power-play point). That's not too much of a concern, however, given that the Caps fired 58.5% of the five-on-five shots on goal when Ovechkin was on the ice (65.9% in close situations).
Aaron Volpatti Scored and had four shots on goal against the Isles. The Erat effect?
Joel Ward Had a pair of helpers against the Sens, but hasn't scored a goal in eight games... which was bound to happen.
Tom Wilson Assisted on Volpatti's goal for his first point in more than three weeks, and struggled across-the-board in possession metrics (in close situations with Wilson on the ice, for example, the Caps only took four of the 23 shots on goal). Wilson also has gone six games without a fight, which is a good thing, but looking at everything it's hard not to wonder if Wilson has hit a bit of a wall.