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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 19

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

Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Braden Holtby Is the Holtbeast back? Two starts, two wins, two goals-against and 59 saves are encouraging signs that that might be the case, but perhaps the greater reason for optimism is that he's gone back to what he was doing when he was winning. That's a nice fix for something that never should've been broken in the first place.
Michal Neuvirth Neuvirth was super in a 27-save/1-0 loss to the Isles on Tuesday night, but was under the weather and missed his scheduled start on Thursday. As has so often been the case throughout his career, Neuvirth's health once again got in the way of opportunity.
Karl Alzner Snapped a 10-game scoreless streak with an assist on the game-winner against the Jets and pitched in with ten minutes of spotless penalty killing.
Julien Brouillette Went from "Who?" to posting a helper in his first NHL game on Thursday to scoring the game-winner on Saturday. At this rate, he'll be hoisting the Cup in March and entering the Hall of Fame at some point during the summer.
John Carlson Had a three-game point streak snapped at the beginning of a point-less week, but continues to be the Caps' most reliable defender... and now he once again gets to show the world what he can do.
Connor Carrick Picked up an assist against Winnipeg (one of four Caps defensemen to do so) on a night for which he and his 18 career NHL games ranked fourth among the team's blueliners in experience. Interesting times, these.
John Erskine Missed the last two games of the week with some soreness in his leg, which may have been hampering his mobility (see, for example, Tuesday night's only goal-against). At least, Erskine had better hope that rest will help his skating and quickness... because neither has been at an NHL level lately.
Mike Green Notwithstanding the surprisingly good play of the latest rearguards recalled from Hershey, the Caps' playoff hopes likely depend on a healthy Green being ready to go after the Olympics - the power-play is struggling, and the team's five-on-five Corsi percentage is 50% with Green in the lineup and just 43.6% without.
Jack Hillen Another Cap who could be available to play after the break, it's a little tougher to see where Hillen might fit in at this point, although it could well be ahead of Erskine.
Dmitry Orlov It's a bit surprising that Orlov has gone 26 games without a goal, given the chances he's created, but it might be more surprising that he and Carrick haven't drowned in second-pairing minutes.
Tyson Strachan Who would be more insulted by calling Strachan a poor man's Erskine, Erskine or Strachan?
Patrick Wey Picked up his first NHL point (on the same Tom Wilson goal on which Brouillette did likewise), added another on Saturday, and had two very solid games overall during his second cup of coffee in the bigs. No Cap skater was on the ice for more goals last week than Wey and Brouillette's four, and neither was on for a goal-against.
Nicklas Backstrom Takes a 15-game goal-less streak with him to Sochi, but did manage a trio of assists and solid possession numbers on the week, so there's that. But a power play that has failed to score in 12 of the last 16 games falls in no small part on its quarterback, and that's Backstrom. Yes, the Caps need more from the League's #3 assist man.
Jay Beagle Over last week's three games, Beagle was far and away the Caps' worst possession player, culminating in a spot on Extra Skater's "Worst Possession Players" list for his woeful 18% Corsi against the Devils.
Troy Brouwer Had a poor week in terms of possession (the Caps were outshot 19-7 at five-on-five in close situations with Brouwer on the ice, and the numbers weren't much better elsewhere), but he scored twice against the Jets (here and here) and potted the 100th goal of his career into an empty net against the Devils, so good week, TB20.
Jason Chimera Not Chimera's best week by any measure, who saw his 10-game multi-shot game streak end on Saturday night when he couldn't muster up even one.
Martin Erat Finally scored his first goal of the season on Saturday night (after kicking one into his own net the game before). Next up on the post-Sochi to-do list? Scoring one with the opposing goalie in the net.
Eric Fehr A goal at the end of January is Fehr's only point in 16 games as he struggles to get anything going while being shuffled around the lineup.
Mikhail Grabovski The Caps are actually 6-3-1 with Grabovski out of the lineup, but that doesn't mean much - they're a better team when he's playing.
Marcus Johansson Had a couple of nice helpers on Brouwer's goals Thursday night, but had similarly terrible possession numbers for the week on the makeshift second line. Good enough to be an Olympian, though.
Brooks Laich No Caps skater saw a higher percentage of shots on goal go his way last week than Laich (17-9, 65.4%), but it's been a dozen games since he last found the back of the net, and has only one assist over that span. Keep the pucks going towards the other guy's net, though, and the points will come.
Alex Ovechkin Scored the game-winner against Winnipeg and had an assist on the Erat empty-netter against Jersey, but also led all Caps in terms of possession for the week, coming in above 60% in Corsi, Fenwick and SOG in five-on-five play both close and overall. (Note: the best defense is a good offense.) Now go give 'em hell in Sochi, Alex.
Aaron Volpatti Placed on long-term injured reserve earlier in the week, which stinks for Volpatti but isn't the worst thing that's ever happened to the Caps, truth be told.
Joel Ward What? No Ward goals? See Chimera and Fehr - no offense, no possession, no good.
Casey Wellman Casey Wellman may be a lot of things, but a second-line center on an NHL team with any sort of aspirations is not one of them. That said, his effort and results while here were more than adequate, and he certainly can play in a pinch.
Tom Wilson Dude scored, dude gets up arrow.