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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 18

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

Gregory Shamus

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Braden Holtby Gave up nine goals on 56 shots in his two games of work this week, which adds up to a save percentage of roughly .839... which is just rough. At some point you have to think he regains his stride, and his confidence, but aside from a shutout in Montreal last week it hasn't happened quite yet.
Michal Neuvirth Was brilliant against the Red Wings Friday night, turning aside 42 of Detroit's 45 shots (including going 22-for-22 in the first period alone) and giving up just one goal in the shootout - although it turned out to be the winner. Wasn't quite as sparkling in the second half of the home-and-home, with at least one goal of Detroit's five you'd think he would want back, but he also continued to make great saves and has stepped up his game since getting back in action.
Karl Alzner Not the best of weeks for Alzner, one that saw him on for at least one goal-against in three of the four games (a better performance in Detroit the lone exception), four at even strength. And while the Caps don't rely on him for offense - thank goodness - he hasn't had a point since January 15, and his shots aren't hitting the mark like they were earlier in the season, with just two total in the week's four games.
John Carlson A big five-point week for the Real American Hero, including two multi-point games, and agoal in Sunday's matinee that brought his season total up to ten - a new career-high, with 26 games to go. Amazingly, with that goal Carlson also became just the third Caps' defenseman to hit double digits in goals since the 2005-06 season, joining Dennis Wideman and Mike Green (who has done it four times over that span).
Connor Carrick No defenseman was on for more even-strength goals-against than Carrick this week, who was dinged for seven and is often prone to the teenage mistake (which makes sense, considering he's a teenager). He did pick up his first career multipoint game on Sunday with a pair of helpers, but hard to think the organization is putting him in a position to succeed considering who he's paired with more often than not...
John Erskine ...and that would be this guy right here. Erskine was certainly at the center of a lot of the action this week, particularly on Sunday, when he was on the ice for half of the goals scored - including a run that saw him get a firsthand look at five straight goals (two for the Caps, three against). He also threw in a couple of bonehead penalties (one more deserved than the other) in the loss to Columbus, just to round out the week.
Mike Green Had one of his better games of the season against the Sabres, putting up three points including his 100th career goal and then the overtime winner. Unfortunately that's about as far as his week got, as he skated just 5:48 against Columbus before being knocked out of the game with an injury and hasn't played since.
Jack Hillen Seems to be getting closer to a return, which is promising. The team could really use him... which is not.
Dmitry Orlov On for just two goals-against in a week that saw the Caps cede a whopping 17, and somehow managed to not be on the ice for a single goal - for or against - in Sunday's 11-goal explosion. Also picked up assists in back-to-back games, snapping a five-game pointless streak, but he continues to be a bit more turnover-prone than we would like and needs to tighten it up a bit.
Tyson Strachan Had a decent night possession-wise on Friday night but was on for one goal-against, then got pretty well beaten in yesterday's matinee but managed to avoid being on for any Detroit goals. Because hockey is a weird, weird sport.
Nicklas Backstrom Picked up four points on the week, which isn't bad (especially considering he had just one point in the eight games prior). And with all four coming on the power play, he's extended his League-leading power-play assist total to 28, while playing a huge role in getting the once-stagnant power play back on track. Still, now that he's back on a line with Ovechkin you'd like to see him contributing a bit more at even strength - or chipping in with a goal or two, something he hasn't done since January 10. Also might be nice to see him knock off the offensive-zone penalties he's taken a liking to of late...
Jay Beagle Extended his personal point-scoring streak to a whopping two with an assist against the Sabres. Nice to see, but perhaps not the kind of offense one would want from a second-line center... and yet thanks to injuries, here we are.
Troy Brouwer Snapped an eleven-game goalless drought with a power-play marker against Buffalo on Tuesday (and added an assist for his first multipoint game in over a month), then followed that up with a great individual effort on Sunday to pick up another goal against Detroit. Pretty decent week as far as possession is concerned, as well, finishing three of the four games on the right side of 50% in CF%.
Jason Chimera The first half of the week wasn't great for Chimera, with an invisible outing against the Sabres and a pretty awful one against his former team in Columbus. Things turned around against the Red Wings, however, with a goal Friday night and a very strong three-point game - his first multipoint game in three months - in Sunday's matinee.
Martin Erat Continues to rack up the assists, picking up helper #19, 20 and 21 over the course of the week, while still failing to find the back of the net in his own right. So... status quo.
Eric Fehr Picked up his first goal - and first point - in three weeks in a losing effort against the Blue Jackets, but had a CF% of below 50% in three of the four games this week and continues to struggle offensively. Of course, he's also bounced around the lineup quite a bit, so that can't be helping.
Mikhail Grabovski Skated on Saturday but continues to be out with an ankle injury, giving us all a terrifying look at what the team would be if GMGM doesn't manage to get him re-signed before the summer. Hint, hint.
Marcus Johansson A five-game pointless streak came to an end for Mojo with an assist against the Sabres, and he followed that up with another helper on Sunday, putting him just five assists shy of his career high two seasons ago.
Brooks Laich Played a couple of nondescript games to start the week (albeit with brutal faceoff percentages), then saw his night in Detroit cut short with "tightness" and proceeded to sit out. Again. If there's anyone who could use a lengthy Olympic break to heal up, it's this guy.
Alex Ovechkin Okay, admittedly a minus-five against Columbus isn't good, even if you don't put much stock in plus-minus... and you shouldn't. But that game aside, this was a heck of a good week for the captain, with two goals and two assists against Buffalo (including the sweet set-up for the overtime winner), two assists against Detroit (including a helper on the game-tying tally in the dying seconds of regulation) and the overtime winner on Sunday afternoon. Trade the bum, he's awful.
Aaron Volpatti Three healthy scratches, 8:36 of ice time, four hits, two penalty minutes... yup.
Joel Ward Picked up a shorthanded goal against Columbus to (momentarily) give the team a bit of life, got a stick on an Ovechkin shot in the final seconds of regulation to tie up Friday's game, then scored twice on Sunday to round out a fantastic week and give him his first three-game goal-scoring streak since November. Keep it rolling, Joel.
Casey Wellman Hard not to like what Wellman's brought so far. He's played fairly limited minutes but has two goals in his short time here (adding his second as a Cap on Friday night) and was at or above 50% in FF% in all four games this week. Can't ask for much more from an AHL call-up.
Tom Wilson With an assist on Thursday night, Wilson now has points in three of his last six - which is something, considering his limited ice time and the fact that prior to this little run he had gone almost two months since his last point. He also was easily the team's best player against the Blue Jackets (low bar, but still) and seemed to get under the skin of the Columbus bench while keeping it clean. Now if only he could crack the ten-minute mark on a more regular basis...