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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 7

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

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Braden Holtby After an up and (mostly) down start to the season, Holtby's on a nice little roll, posting a 4-2-0/1.67/.942 line over his last six starts, including 2-1-0/1.65/.937 over this past week. Those rate stats should be yielding a better record, of course, but at least he seems to have righted whatever was wrong with him early on.
Justin Peters Well, that's one way to make sure Peters doesn't allow any soul-crushing bad goals - staple him to the bench.
Karl Alzner Had a great view of the Sabres' game-winning goal to cap a pretty typical week for Burnaby Karl - no points, good penalty killing, pretty decent underlying numbers and not a whole lot of material on which to base a blurb like this.
John Carlson Speaking of prime seats for a Buffalo tally, Carlson had a crease-side look at both of them, the first coming after his failed clear led to an unfavorable bounce and a Matt Moulson tally and the second after he was caught out of position and couldn't recover. It was a fine week for Carlson otherwise (including the secondary assist on the game-winner against Arizona and nearly five minutes of perfect penalty killing), but "very good most of the time" isn't very good, is it?
John Erskine Still out. Still probably wouldn't be playing if he wasn't.
Mike Green "I don’t think it’s too serious, but I have not talked to my trainers yet." Uh oh. Green was having a rough week before the injury (the Colorado game, in particular), and hasn't scored a goal in more than a month (October 22), but he's arguably been the team's MVP and any prolonged absence would be a big blow indeed.
Jack Hillen Seems the most likely candidate to see some action if Green is out short-term (after all, he played the first game of the season in Green's place), but the Caps may look to Hershey if they need a longer-term plug-in.
Matt Niskanen Scored his first goal as a Cap on Saturday night (and in Green's place on the top power play unit), snapping a six-game scoring drought and putting him on pace for around four goals and 25 points on the season. But you know better than to judge him on his box car stats - Niskanen continues to be solid in the second pair.
Dmitry Orlov With a fully healthy stable of rearguards, Orlov is likely going to be in a battle for playing time with Nate Schmidt (who is waiver-exempt, so the battle may not last long at all). Two men enter, one gets a sweater?
Brooks Orpik Played the tough minutes and played them well - with Orpik on the ice at five-on-five last week, the Caps had a 64-46 edge in shot attempts, and the big blueliner picked up the primary assist on the game-winning goal in each of the Caps' two wins. Seriously. He won't be happy with his positioning on the first Buffalo goal, but the Caps will gladly take weeks like this from their much-maligned investment.
Nate Schmidt Struggled mightily against Colorado and was the only Caps defender to be under 50% in both Corsi and Fenwick at fives last week (including a Fenwick percentage under 40%) despite playing relatively easy minutes. A bump in the road? A wall? It was Schmidt's second run of three-straight games with a negative Relative Corsi this season, with the other coming earlier this month (with three positive games in between).
Nicklas Backstrom Good. At. Hockeythings. Backstrom snapped a three-game pointless streak (the horror!) with a goal and an assist in Colorado, then added a helper on Saturday night against Buffalo and posted the team's second-highest Relative Fenwick and Corsi for the week despite facing tough opponents and (mildly) relatively unfavorable deployments. But is one five-on-five point in the last five games enough for the top line center? It happens... but can't happen too often if the Caps want to be successful.
Jay Beagle Scored against the 'Yotes and had an assist against the Sabres, which gave Beagle points in four of his last six games. But his underlying numbers remain poor and he's been on the ice for the last three goals the Caps have allowed; you can't be having that from an ostensibly defensive center.
Chris Brown
Hershey Kiss Icon
Played a game, didn't do much, headed back to Hershey.
Troy Brouwer Contributing to the team's scoring drought, Brouwer has gone six games without a goal and five without a point. Like many of his teammates, Brouwer's underlying numbers are still good, but at some point, you've gotta score some goals - here we are 20 games into the season and the Caps' second-line right wing has just two five-on-five goals.
Andre Burakovsky Similar to linemate Brouwer, Burakovsky is goalless in his last seven outings and pointless in his last five. Burakovsky wasn't on the ice for a goal-for or -against last week and had fine possession stats, but again, secondary scorers have to secondary score.
Jason Chimera And then there's Chimera, whose underlying numbers have been pretty terrible all year and were last week... and he managed a goal and an assist. Hockey's a funny game. Not always "ha ha" funny... but funny nonetheless.
Eric Fehr The underutilized Fehr potted the overtime game-winner in Glendale in what was surprisingly his only game in the last four with a positive Relative Fenwick percentage. He's gone a dozen games without an assist, something that's less likely to change any time soon if he stays on the fourth line.
Marcus Johansson See Brouwer and Burakovsky. Since his two-goal game against Columbus, Johansson has gone five games without an even-strength point. So that's five games for that line without a point, despite taking nearly 60% of the shot attempts while on ice. How long will Barry Trotz stick with the trio of they don't start producing again (and soon)?
Evgeny Kuznetsov Has gone eight games without a point and three without a shot on goal. Kuznetsov hasn't scored an even-strength goal yet this season and has just a pair of even-strength assists as he continues to try to learn a new position while languishing on the fourth-line. Development status: arrested.
Brooks Laich Theoretically (and, if history is any indication, temporarily) back in action later this week, which should help some. And while it's much more correlation than causation, the Caps are 4-0-2 with Laich in the lineup.
Michael Latta It's been a dozen games since Latta had his last point, but he's had a couple of fights since then and... not much else.
Liam O'Brien Should return to the lineup this week to add a little energy to the fourth line.
Alex Ovechkin Scored a vintage Ovechkin goal to beat Colorado (after deftly setting up Backstrom's early score in a bit of role reversal). But that's his only goal in the last five (and he's only scored in two of his last nine games), despite the Caps out-attempting opponents by a 131-74 margin over that five-game span (84-66 at five-on-five).
Aaron Volpatti Shrug.
Joel Ward Rough week for the 42 car, as Ward was on the ice for four of the five goals the Caps allowed on the week (all at five-on-five) and posted the worst Relative Fenwick percentage among the forwards (Schmidt was lower among all skaters). Whether he's a shutdown winger or a depth scorer (or both), the Caps need Ward to be better than this.
Tom Wilson Raise your hand if you'd have guessed that Wilson had the best Relative Corsi percentage on the week. Yeah, me neither, but sure enough, the sophomore destroyer posted a monster Fenwick plus/minus of +20 and a percentage of 67.2. Points? Who needs 'em? Le sigh. Wilson doesn't have a goal or an assist in his last six games despite spending most of that time riding shotgun on the top line. Tenable? We'll see.

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