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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 9

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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 Made his first start in over a month in Carolina and turned in a stellar 36-save performance in a 3-2 win, earning the start in Boston two days later where he didn't fare quite as well (largely through no fault of his own), facing another 38 shots but stopping just 34 of them. Consistency will be the name of the game for Neuvirth from here on out - if he's good, he'll play; if he's up and down, he'll be in and out of the lineup.
Braden Holtby Speaking of much-needed consistency, in his last eight starts, Holtby has two shutouts, has been yanked twice, has given up three goals or more five times and one or fewer three times. In fact, Holtby has given up other-than-two-goals in his last ten starts and in 16 of his 18 starts this season, including a pair of three-goals-against outings in his two games last week - a 4-0 loss to Carolina and a 5-3 win over Buffalo. The Caps need more from their number one netminder.
Karl Alzner On the ice for five of the Caps' seven even-strength goals on the week (assisting on one) and four of the goals they allowed at five-aside, Alzner's blocking shots and doing his Alzner thing with whomever Adam Oates partners him.
John Carlson No one (goalies included) was on the ice for more Caps goals last week than Carlson, who was on for six of the nine the team scored, while playing the tough minutes and only seeing four pucks go in the net behind him, one of which was into an empty net and another came with the Caps down a man. Carlson had a single assist and isn't necessarily making the most of his prime power-play time with Mike Green sidelined (protip: stop jamming Alex Ovechkin with passes and watch the point totals skyrocket), but he's turned around a rough start and is having a quietly solid campaign.
John Erskine Was eligible to return from what would've been a short stint on the IR on Sunday night... but didn't.
Mike Green Oates is hopeful that he'll get Green back at some point during the four-game roadie that starts tonight in Pittsburgh, but they won't rush him... or so they say.
Jack Hillen Returned over the weekend for just his second and third games of the season and drew the praise of his head coach, even if some of the underlying numbers tell a different story.
Tomas Kundratek Left Thursday night's game with a lower body injury when his leg/ankle buckled unnaturally under the weight of Jeff Skinner. As admirably as Kundratek has played this season, take a moment to realize what it says about the state of the organization that his loss is lamented.
Steven Oleksy Oleksy's week included his first NHL fight and having Steve Ott decline the opportunity to be his second (maybe this partially explains Ott's decision). Oleksy has been a surprisingly adequate stopgap, but the reality is he's a fringe NHLer, and more of that reality was apparent in his Week 2 than was on display in Week 1 - he was on for six goals-against, five at even-strength, more than any Cap defenseman over the four-game stretch.
Dmitry Orlov Recalled on Monday after a brief rehab stint in Hershey, Orlov should help an ailing blueline.
Tom Poti Left Sunday night's game, the third Caps rearguard to be unable to play out a game in the previous eight days, which is tough on the other five guys... especially the five the Caps have iced.
Cameron Schilling Made his NHL debut on Tuesday night and didn't look markedly worse than anyone else in the lineup (which is damning by faint praise). Still very much a work in progress, and hopefully that progress can continue in Hershey.
Jeff Schultz The one that will stick out will be Riley Nash's second goal on Tuesday night on which Patrick Dwyer beat Schultz on what would have been an icing touch-up had the rangy Caps' defender out-touched the 'Canes forward. Alas, this is apparently Schultz's lot in the NHL - generally solid play with cringe-worthy gaffes mixed in.
Nicklas Backstrom Finished the week on an uptick with a pair of helpers against Buffalo after just one point and a surprisingly bad 39% efficiency in the face-off circle over the week's first three games. Now that he's been reunited with Ovechkin, let's see what he can do.
Jay Beagle Another Cap pivot who had a rough week on the dot, Beagle won just 44% of his draws and just 40% (8-of-20) in the defensive zone. He's pointless in March (after two-point months in January and February), but that doesn't hurt so much when coupled with the fact that he hasn't been on the ice for an even-strength goal-against in over a month.
Troy Brouwer Scored his tenth goal of the season Sunday night and is potting goals and assists at career-best rates (though it's worth noting that he has one even-strength goal in his last 15 games).
Jason Chimera Finally. Jesus.
Joey Crabb Scored his second goal of the season (and "Crabb from Volpatti and Alzner" must've paid off at, like, 75:1), but is still in search of that elusive first helper. F'real.
Eric Fehr After a hot three-game stretch earlier in the month, Fehr has now gone a half-dozen games without a point and has just two shots over the past two games (perhaps not coincidentally after getting blown up in Boston... please don't be broken... again).
Matt Hendricks Had an eventful trip to Beantown that included two fights, including a bizarre Two Goons, One Cap episode. But besides the rough stuff, Hendricks has been on the ice for two even-strength goals-against in each of the Caps' last three losses, and that's certainly an undesirable trend.
Marcus Johansson Continued his (relatively) strong play since returning from a concussion with goals in both games this weekend (even if one was an early Christmas present from David Krejci), and eight shots on goal over the two games. He's getting chances... if he can convert with more regularity, he'll go a long way towards realizing some of the potential of his.
Brooks Laich After missing the first twenty-eight games of the season (six more games than he'd missed in his entire career to this point), Brooks is back in the lineup tonight. Weagle-shaped confetti for everyone!
Alex Ovechkin Down a goal entering the third period on Thursday night, Ovechkin scored a power-play goal to tie the game, then had the primary assist on the game-winner (after fumbling the puck a bit on a breakaway, but whatever... I'm sure NBC lost their tape of the game anyway). And after a decent game in Boston, he opened the scoring just 19 seconds into the game on Sunday night with career goal number 350. Back with (and sticking up for) Backstrom and comfortable on the right wing, things may just be looking up for ol' Numero Ocho.
Mathieu Perreault Scratched for two games after seeing limited ice on Tuesday, Perreault responded with a big game Sunday night that included a goal and an assist. We keep saying play the guy, but no one's listening to us...
Mike Ribeiro Had that game-winner on Thursday night to cap the comeback in Raleigh and dished out a couple of assists on Sunday night, and in between had his first NHL fight after more than 800 games in the League. Of course it was against Brad Marchand because why wouldn't it be? Tick tock goes the deadline decision clock...
Joel Ward That puck luck that Ward had early in the season has turned a bit as he was on the ice for eight of the 13 goals the Caps allowed this week, only one of which came while the Caps were down a man. That said, he had two helpers on Sunday night but is still looking for his first goal of March. If Perreault keeps getting a sweater, Ward won't be searching long.
Aaron Volpatti Scratch, gorgeous assist, spot on the top line for three shifts, scratch. All in a week's work.
Wojtek Wolski Had four shots on goal (most among Caps forwards) in the loss to Carolina, then sat the next three games out, and it's hard to understand why. Good possession numbers? Check. Shot-generator? Check. Shot-limiter? Check. Due some puck luck? Check. Oh, and he's left-handed, so could easily skate on the top line if and when Volpatti or whomever flames out there, which would presumably pump his boxcars up to the point that he could be a tradeable asset at the deadline. Mind-boggling.