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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 16

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

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Philipp Grubauer The bloom is officially off the Grubauer rose as the rookie netminder got yanked after giving up three goals before the 22-minute mark in each of his last two starts before being returned to the AHL on Monday. Even with a strong showing against San Jose to kickoff the week, the Caps' rookie ended up 0-2-1/4.02/.863 over the three games and was 1-3-4/2.60/.912 over his last eight starts. Used up, discarded... he'll be back... at some point.
Braden Holtby Holtby looked good out of the bullpen in mop-up duty against the Rangers (after allowing an early shorty), and decent in his relief appearance against the Jackets. Now his mission to reclaim the Caps' cage begins anew.
Michal Neuvirth Even-strength goals - four of them - were Neuvirth's downfall against the Pens in his only action of the week. With Grubauer out of the picture for the moment, Neuvirth will once again have a chance to show what he can do.
Karl Alzner Struggled in terms of puck possession against Columbus and New York after a couple of solid games (with an assist in each) against San Jose and Pittsburgh in which he and partner Carlson did a pretty nice job of bottling up two of the League's top lines.
John Carlson Entered Friday night's game on a 12-game goal-less streak and snapped it for the Caps' only tally. Interestingly enough, that was one of only two five-on-five shot attempts for the Caps while Carlson was on the ice to go against 14 Columbus tries (that's a woeful 12.5% Corsi-For).
Connor Carrick Got schooled a couple of times in Pittsburgh and was on for a pair of Columbus power-play tallies, but all of that is to be expected for a 19-year-old defender who just hit double-digits in NHL games played.
John Erskine Ultimately, if you get a four-game stretch over which your third defensive pairing allows just one five-on-five goal, you've gotta be pretty happy. That was last week for Erskine and Carrick... and tack on the two before it.
Mike Green You've gotta feel for Green, who had a gorgeous goal against the Rangers wiped out contributing to a tough night - and week - all around, despite a couple of helpers and solid possession numbers. Caps goalies only stopped 27 of the 32 shots they faced at five-on-five when Green was on the ice, and that's not all on the 52 car... but it's not all not on him, either.
Jack Hillen So... how different would things be if Hillen was healthy? If you said, "Not very," you win a prize.
Steve Oleksy After not playing since January 4, Oleksy was placed on waivers on Monday in what was a bit of a surprising move. He cleared and will report to Hershey.
Dmitry Orlov Routine plays were adventures all week for Orlov, who was on the ice for seven of the 11 non-power-play goals the Caps surrendered last week, and plenty of them were the result of either his poor decision-making or execution. Like this one versus San Jose. Or this one right out of the gate in New York. Anyway, there's a certain risk tolerance a team accepts when the reward is high enough, but if Orlov continues to play like this, that calculus isn't favorable.
Nicklas Backstrom Eventually the point-production will return - in 462 NHL regular season games, Backstrom has 464 points. But with no goals and one assist in his last five games, Backstrom is struggling offensively (and his defensive game left a bit to be desired against both the Pens and Rangers, where he was on the ice for three goals-against in each).
Jay Beagle Just another all-around low-impact week for the center of the Caps' fourth line.
Troy Brouwer Unlike last season, lady luck hasn't been with Brouwer much in 2013-14, as he has just one point (an assist) in his last eight games and just nine goals and 11 assists through 49 games after posting 19 and 14 in 47 last year. That 17.1% shooting percentage of his was unsustainable? The devil, you say!
Jason Chimera Scored a pretty goal against the Pens (thanks, MoJo), but a somewhat nondescript week otherwise... which, come to think of it, is relatively good.
Martin Erat The Caps' only player with a positive on-ice goal differential (the Caps' only player who wasn't on for a goal-against, in fact) on the week and strong possession stats don't mitigate three bad offensive-zone penalties against New York (including this, uh, ungentlemanly poke) that all but cried out, "Trade me, already" or the fact that Erat has played the most minutes in the League of any forward without a goal. This shotgun marriage seems beyond reconciling.
Eric Fehr The offense has to come from somewhere and it just isn't, which is why Fehr's current cold spell (he's scored in just one of his last 11 games while getting top-six minutes) is particularly frustrating... to say nothing of the fact that he tied Orlov for a team-worst minus-five goal differential last week (one of which was a power-play tally).
Mikhail Grabovski Even the Great Grabo has a down week every now and again, and it's nice that his down weeks include things like a 58% CF at even-strength (57% in close situations). The production will return... we think.
Marcus Johansson Reunited with Backstrom and Ovechkin on the top line (which is good, considering that his third line wasn't), but not until after not one but two beautiful helpers in Pittsburgh.
Brooks Laich Registered his first goal since November 27 on a shorty against the Pens and had a strong week in terms of possession, but was on for two of the first three goals against in each of the weekend's losses.
Alex Ovechkin It's hard to say the captain isn't doing his part, as he scored half of the Caps' goals last week (ridiculous shot, ridiculous shot, ridiculous shot) and had a 56.5% Corsi-For in close five-on-five situations. But guess what - he can't do it all by himself.
Aaron Volpatti Back-to-back strong possession games (and a serious throwdown with Mike Brown) followed by back-to-back scratches. <Shrug>
Joel Ward Lagged behind all of his teammates in terms of possession this week (40.7% shots-for at five-on-five), and, unsurprisingly, had nothing to show for it but a minus-one. It's probably time to put a real third line back together with Chimera, Laich and Ward.
Tom Wilson Emotions got the better of Wilson on Friday night in Columbus, and he certainly is responsible for keeping them in check... but given his minutes and his role, it's not hard to see why he might go a little bit overboard sometimes trying to make an impression. Oh, also he has one point in his last 33 games and is averaging one shot on goal every four games over his last 28.