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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 3

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

Greg Fiume

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Michal Neuvirth Was very good in Ottawa (with one notable exception) and tremendous in Toronto, but two blown third-period leads keep Neuvirth from getting an up arrow this week, even if the meltdowns were more of a team effort - coffee is for closers.
Braden Holtby Had a solid bounce-back performance on Friday night against the Flyers, but was leaky on Sunday against the Pens, and was beaten by three consecutive Pittsburgh shots after the Caps had tied the game at two in the second period. Everything that Holtby was last spring... he's the opposite of it right now.
Karl Alzner Alzner was on the ice for both Philly goals, half of Pittsburgh's tallies and the game-winner in Ottawa but it's difficult to fault him for any of them. Still, the shutdown blueliner has now been on the ice for 16 goals-against in nine games, nine of which have come while shorthanded. Being "the guy on Washington who actually plays good defense" may be damning by faint praise, but Alzner has been solid, and with a few more saves behind him, his numbers would reflect that.
John Carlson Once again, Carlson led Caps skaters in goals-against for the week with seven more to bring his total to 20 for the season... which is more than six teams have allowed so far. Obviously that raw number lacks context, but there's no additional information that's going to make it look good. On the plus side, he picked up his first point since opening night on Friday and his first goal of the season on Sunday (a beauty of a shot if there ever was one).
John Erskine Suspended three games for a bad hit on the Flyers' Wayne Simmonds, which came while skating pretty well as a second-pairing defenseman... which is great for John Erskine, but not so great for the Caps when he's in the top-four.
Mike Green Playing big minutes, Green was on the ice for six of the ten goals the Caps scored this week (including his second of the year against the Pens) and just two of the 14 they allowed. But with nearly six minutes of power-play time per game, he certainly shoulders some of the blame for an extra-man unit that was just 2-for-14 on the week and hasn't really gotten on track yet.
Roman Hamrlik Scratched four times, and was notably not chosen to replace Erskine in the lineup. But hey, at least he doesn't have a lockout to worry about any more, right?
Jack Hillen No news is no news.
Tomas Kundratek Kundratek skated 72 shifts this week and was on the ice for five goals-against, including Ottawa's tying goal (on which he failed to tie up his man) and Toronto's two third-period markers. That he's in D.C. and not Hershey speaks to the team's lack of quality back-end depth on the blueline.
Dmitry Orlov Skated in Hershey for the first time in nearly two months, and can't get healthy quickly enough for a blueline that lacks foot-speed (among other things).
Tom Poti Got back in the lineup courtesy of the Erskine suspension, and looked a bit rusty, but not particularly out of place. Of course, that's a relative term.
Jeff Schultz Paired with Kundratek, Schultz had a rough start to the week, but fared better against the Pennsylvania teams and seems capable of holding down third-pairing minutes at this point.
Nicklas Backstrom Nicklas Backstrom is so good that he can go on a point-scoring streak while playing far below his abilities, which is exactly where he is right now, with points in four-straight (via a beautiful breakaway goal against the Flyers and four helpers). Backstrom seemed particularly out of sorts on Sunday, but was on the ice for six of the Caps' ten goals on the week. Still, it's absolutely fair to want - and expect - more from him.
Jay Beagle Beagle started the week centering Alex Ovechkin and ended it with a minus-two against the Pens. Neither of those things was good news for Caps fans, but kudos to Beagle for setting a new single-season career best in assists... with two.
Troy Brouwer Opened the scoring in Ottawa, sniped a beauty against Philly and was a threat at times against Pittsburgh, against whom he picked up his first assist of the season. More of this, please.
Jason Chimera While hits is a terrible statistic, Chimera probably should still have had more than the one he had over the last three games of the week (after picking up five in Ottawa). Because if Chimera isn't scoring (and he isn't), he needs to be doing other things, and that includes being a physical presence.
Joey Crabb Crabb is bringing energy right now, but not much more.
Eric Fehr With no points, few shots, minimal special teams time and a minus-four goal differential on the season (four goals-against, none -for), one wonders how long Fehr will continue to get a sweater.
Matt Hendricks Potted his second goal of the season in Ottawa and answered the bell for John Erskine when Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo rang it on Friday. He's also won 70% of the 47 draws he's taken this year (tops in the League among those who've taken as many), including 73% in the defensive zone.
Marcus Johansson Got back in the lineup against the Leafs and proceeded to do nothing for three games (literally no points, one shot on goal and a deserved minus-two rating). Johansson is feeling more and more like a guy who needs a change of scenery.
Brooks Laich Skated with the team in Toronto, so he's progressing, which is nice, but this team is certainly more than Brooks Laich away from being good.
Alex Ovechkin Had his moments, particularly against Pittsburgh, but it's just not happening (a soft power-play goal against Toronto and a secondary helper with the man-advantage against the Pens were all Ovechkin could muster this week). We noted how big a non-factor he's been at even-strength (and some of the "why"), but he's now gone a dozen games and more than 192 minutes of even-strength ice time without a goal. That's just absurd.
Mathieu Perreault Took two questionable penalties in Ottawa, but when you're trying to stay in the lineup, that can't happen... and when it does, healthy scratches (three of them) can't come as much of a surprise.
Mike Ribeiro Continues to shine (outside of the faceoff circle), posting two-point games in Toronto and against Pittsburgh. If he can get Ovechkin going, they may have to retire his jersey at Verizon Center.
Joel Ward Tallied goal number four of the season against the Sens (and continues to enjoy quite a resurgence), but also got dinged with a high-stick late in that one which led directly to the game-winning Ottawa goal. [Not gonna make the reference... nope... not gonna do it.]
Wojtek Wolski Set up two nice goals - Brouwer in Ottawa and Green against Pittsburgh - and scored the Caps' one game-winner of the week against the Flyers. A bargain at twice the price!