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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 15

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
Philipp Grubauer Turned aside 63 of the 67 shots he faced in two starts this week, including a phenomenal split save against Tampa and all but one in regulation (and all but one in the shootout) against Buffalo Sunday afternoon. Say what you want about the Caps' goaltending situation - and we can certainly think of plenty of things - but Grubauer's performance has been solid.
Braden Holtby Three games, no starts. Well... okay, then.
Michal Neuvirth When Michal Neuvirth got the call to start Friday night against the Leafs, it was, to say the least, a surprise. It was also his first action since the end of November, after which followed an injury and a series of healthy scratches (plus one public request for a trade by his agent) - so he would have been forgiven if he had looked a tad rusty. Instead he faced 34 Toronto shots, turned aside all but two of them and finished as the game's first star. Whatever happens next, that was pretty darn impressive.
Karl Alzner On for three goals-against (although two of them were on the power play), and was on the wrong side of 50% in Corsi For % in two of the three games (although as usual that's partly a result of being out against the toughest competition night to night). He did pick up his second assist in a week with a helper on Fehr's tally and remains on pace to equal his best offensive output of his career, a 17-point explosion two seasons ago, so there's that.
John Carlson Two goals-for, three goals-against, an assist and a penalty - except for that last part, that's about the norm for Carlson (his minor against the Sabres was just his seventh of the season and his first in over three weeks).
Connor Carrick A surprise call-up after Alexander Urbom's departure from the team via waivers, Carrick performed adequately in all three games, with good-looking possession numbers overall and his first career NHL assist (to go with his first career NHL goal from way back in Game #2 of the season). Could probably still use some time in the AHL and would fare better alongside a different defensive partner, but wasn't too scary in his return to NHL action.
John Erskine Was beaten - and badly - by B.J. Crombeen on Thursday night but wasn't on for any other goals-against on the week and had decent numbers in two of the three games. He did go on a bit of a penalty parade against the Leafs, with a double-minor and a fight Friday night, but apparently that fired up his team, so... truculence?
Mike Green Picked up two assists against Tampa for career assist #200 and career point #300 (either which could have been career goal #100), and then added an assist against the Leafs while being on for all three Caps' goals and no Toronto goals. Still waiting on that century-mark tally, but was strong in terms of CF% and FF% on the week - and dominant against the Sabres - and has looked much better of late, so it can't be far off.
Jack Hillen That name sounds so familiar...
Steve Oleksy It's not that he's been so dominant, but of the guys on the Caps' blue line who should have been sitting in favor of Connor Carrick, Oleksy's not the first one who would jump to mind. And yet here we are.
Dmitry Orlov Didn't have quite the same success as his defense partner, but did pick up an assist of his own. He was also on for more goals-for (three) than goals-against (two, both against the Lightning) and wasn't really to blame for either of the goals-against - continues to be high risk, but was smarter about jumping into the play this week and perhaps is starting to find his stride alongside Green.
Nicklas Backstrom Picked up an assist on Johansson's power-play goal and added a goal of his own against the Leafs, but has been fairly invisible this week - probably thanks in no small part to his two new linemates. Unsurprisingly, his possession numbers took a pretty big dip overall during the week's three games. He also took the tripping penalty late in the third against the Sabres that negated Alzner's go-ahead goal... although the penalty was probably what gave the puck a clear path to the net in the first place, so that's kind of a wash.
Jay Beagle Averaged about nine minutes a game, won the majority of his faceoffs and didn't get burned for a goal-against on the week. Also had one so-so game, one awesome game and one ugly game as far as possession is concerned. All in all? A fourth-line week for a fourth-line player.
Troy Brouwer Brouwer had been playing pretty well overall up... until this week, that is, when not so much. It started early, with a bad turnover in the first period against Tampa that led to the game's opening tally, and ended with him taking two bad penalties less than four minutes apart in Sunday's game against Buffalo. He's now gone four games without a point, his longest such stretch in two months - totally not related to the fact that the drought coincides with his reunion with Laich, obviously.
Jason Chimera On for two goals-for and two goals-against in Tampa and then lucked into the team's only goal against the Sabres when his centering pass clicked off a Buffalo defender - a game in which he had the second-best CF% among forwards. Not quite the early-season Chimera but was better this week and now has points in three of his last six games.
Martin Erat Has Erat played his last game in a Caps' uniform? Three straight healthy scratches and increased trade chatter would seem to point to that being the case.
Eric Fehr It's been pretty fun to watch Fehr's ongoing emergence into the player we hoped he'd be earlier in his career, and the confidence that goes with it - since moving up in the lineup he's shooting more, and scoring more, with 45 of his 79 shots and five of his eight goals coming over the last month. Two of those goals were scored Thursday against Tampa, including the last-minute goal that proved to be the game-winner. That marks the first time he's scored two goals in a game since March 2011 (and just the third time in his career, the other occurring on January 1 of that same year... which we all remember).
Mikhail Grabovski Scored on a power-play deflection against the Bolts (in a move reminiscent of his first goal as a Cap back in Game 1) for his 12th goal of the season. Drew a couple of penalties and added an assist against his old team on Friday night, and was one of the team's top Corsi For performers - and the best among forwards - Sunday evening.
Marcus Johansson Picked up a goal in the dying seconds of the first period Thursday night (and did so by doing what he does best, going to the net), added an assist against the Leafs and created enough of a diversion in front of Ryan Miller for the Caps' only goal against the Sabres. Continues to be a bit streaky as far as point-production goes, following up a five-game pointless stretch with points in four straight (which was snapped on Sunday), but is shooting more and providing an unexpected net presence at even strength and on the power play.
Brooks Laich Possession numbers above 50% in two of the three games is good, especially considering the history he's had when paired with Brouwer. No points on the week? Bad (though not unexpected). All in all he's looked a bit more like himself this week as he continues to work his way back from that injury-riddled slow start, but isn't quite there yet and was dinged for a couple of goals-against in the process.
Alex Ovechkin Continues to shoot buckets of pucks on or towards the net, and ended up with a goal and a couple of assists on the week, but hasn't looked quite himself of late even as his new line has been strong overall and had a particularly sluggish game against the Sabres. And oh so many missed shots against Tampa... was it the ice or was it the captain?
Aaron Volpatti Was credited with six hits against the Sabres... which makes sense, considering how little he had the puck compared to the opponent when he was on the ice.
Joel Ward Assisted on Grabovski's goal Thursday night, added the eventual game-winner in front of Mama Ward on Friday and picked up another assist on Chimera's goal against the Sabres. That assist also extended his point streak to four games (tying his career-best streak and giving him points in five of the last six).
Tom Wilson Another fight on Friday, another charging minor on Sunday... at least we know the kid's not afraid to play a physical game.