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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 5

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

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth Oh, hey. Yeah... um... not right now.
Braden Holtby Here's a neat trick - Holtby twice improved his in-game save percentage by more than five percentage points over the previous game (from .844 to .900 to .950), but won the first two and lost the last of the three. Tuesday's win was the first time a Caps goalie had a save percentage below .850 and won since November, 2011, and Sunday's 38-save performance in New York marked the first time a Caps goalie had a save percentage of .950 or better and lost since Holtby himself did it last March against Philly (regular season, that is - Holtby did it twice in the playoffs). All in all, it was a 2-1-0/3.35/.902 week for Holtby, who is 3-1-0/2.51/.922 in his last four games.
Karl Alzner Scored an honest-to-goodness goal in Florida, his first since October 2011, and was only on the ice for one of the ten goals the Caps allowed all week (the Nate Thompson breakaway in Tampa)... but was in the box when the Rangers scored the game-winner in Manhattan. Still, that's more than 70 minutes of ice time (including 9:55 shorthanded) and just that one goal-against. Stout.
John Carlson Picked up an assist against the Bolts and then opened the scoring against the Blueshirts with a missile over Henrik Lundqvist's shoulder, but had his all-too-familiar ups and downs defensively, including getting caught out of position on the game-winner on Sunday. As noted elsewhere, Carlson has now been on the ice for 13 of the 16 power-play goals the Caps have allowed (which is more than most full teams have allowed).
John Erskine Had a rough night in Sunrise, but rebounded with a pair of good efforts and had eight shots on the week, his most prolific shot production over a three-game stretch since November 2011. Still, Erskine was on the ice for half of the goals the Caps allowed on the week, with four of those five coming at even-strength.
Mike Green Had a big late assist in the comeback at Sunrise and was on the ice for six of the team's first seven goals of the week... then missed Sunday night's game in New York with the dreaded "lower-body injury" and didn't skate with the team today. Uh oh.
Roman Hamrlik Scratched 11 times in 15 games (11 of the last 12, in fact) by Adam Oates after a similar treatment for a long stretch in February/March of last year under Dale Hunter, at $3.5m*2-years, perhaps Hamrlik wasn't the best free agent signing of the McPhee Administration.
Jack Hillen It was all quiet on the Hillen front... but it appears as if he practiced today.
Tomas Kundratek Played a career-high 23:25 - including a team-high 18:56 at even-strength - on Sunday. Think about that for a minute. Kundratek has responded to the increased ice time and responsibility as well as can be reasonably expected, notching helpers in the week's first two games (after picking up two in three games the week before), but was on the ice for a trio of even-strength opposition tallies in those first two games.
Dmitry Orlov If healthy, Orlov would be getting big minutes for the Caps these days. He's not, and he isn't.
Tom Poti Looked as rusty as you might expect playing in his first game in nearly two weeks in New York.
Jeff Schultz Rough week for Sarge, who sandwiched minus-1 and minus-2 games with a penalty in each around a better outing in Tampa (though he did double his season assist total from one to two and hit total from four to eight, for what that's worth... which isn't much).
Nicklas Backstrom Here we are 15 games into the season and Backstrom has just one goal (a bit of a gift at that), isn't shooting the puck enough, and his absolutely brilliant pass on the overtime game-winner against the Kitties was only his third primary assist of the season (none of which has come on the power play). That said, he had three points in three games this week, was only on the ice for one goal-against and won 65% of his team-high 68 faceoffs (winning as many draws as anyone else on the team took). The fact that Backstrom is playing with middling talent at even-strength is dragging down what might otherwise be a pretty productive season. But all of that notwithstanding, he has to find a way to be more productive for the Caps to have any success - that pressure comes with the contract.
Jay Beagle Scored his first goal of the season - the eventual game-winner in Tampa - and was credited with as many shots on goal in the week's final two games as he'd had in his previous ten. He also won 80% of his 20 non-neutral-zone faceoffs (14 in the defensive zone), though one of his four D-zone losses on the week came seven seconds before the Rangers tic-tac-toe'd their way to the 2-1 lead they didn't relinquish.
Troy Brouwer Turned Backstrom's brilliant pass into an overtime goal against the Panthers and then opened the scoring two nights later against the Lightning, giving Brouwer four goals (and two game-winners) in less than six full periods of hockey. His 11 shots on goal in three games was the most over a three-game span in almost exactly a year, though you can be sure he regrets that that number isn't 12, as he sailed a terrific chance high and wide right in New York (sound familiar?).
Jason Chimera Good linemates, bad play and bad penalties continue to be the theme for Chimera, who was on the ice for five of the nine even-strength goals the Caps allowed last week, and nary a goal-for. Yikes.
Joey Crabb Crabb has gone a dozen games without a point, and has taken just eight shots on goal in that zzzzzzzzzzz. Sorry, nodded off there for a moment.
Eric Fehr Boasting a four-game point streak (that featured a pair of two-point games in the Sunshine State and a helper in the Big Apple), Fehr is the Caps' hottest hand, which is great for him... and maybe not as great for the team, given that its hottest hand is a bottom-six winger who gets no power-play time. Fehr was on the ice for five of the seven five-on-five goals the Caps scored last week.
Matt Hendricks Elevated to the top line against the Panthers, Hendricks responded with a nifty goal, before having his nose broken by an errant stick. Undeterred, he was back mixing it up against the Lightning two nights later... because Matt Hendricks, that's why.
Marcus Johansson Injured? The team seems to be saying so... but not in their Game Notes (PDF). Not that it matters - Johansson wasn't one of the team's top-12 forwards when he was playing, healthy or not.
Brooks Laich Laich on his injured groin: "It’s really tough to measure." (That quote refers to his timetable for a return to the lineup, but you knew that.)
Alex Ovechkin Sent Tuesday night's game to overtime with a late power-play goal and picked up an assist in that game as well, but was held off the scoresheet against the last two teams to eliminate the Caps from the playoffs, despite registering a dozen shots on goal (and another 11 not on-goal) over those two games. Needs to be more focused in his own end of the rink and needs some help at the other end; the effort is there.
Mathieu Perreault Didn't get in on the action against the Panthers, but did in a big way against the Bolts, to the tune of three primary assists, and no forward was on the ice for more Caps goals last week than Perreault (tied with Fehr with five).
Mike Ribeiro With three points in Sunrise and one in Manhattan, Ribeiro had another week of better than a point-per-game. But he was on the ice for five even-strength goals-against (and just two -for), and won just nine of 25 offensive-zone faceoffs (36%). Can his overall production continue to outrun some troubling underlying numbers? Stay tuned.
Joel Ward Three helpers in two games down south doubled his assist total entering the week, as the third line kept rolling... but that offensive production is bound to slow down in a big way.
Wojtek Wolski Wolski has gone six games without a point, despite a plum assignment playing alongside Backstrom and Brouwer (and Ovechkin and Ribeiro before that). But he's getting some chances, and for every reason that we can expect the third line's offensive outpouring to dry up, we can expect Wolski's to show up... right?