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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 22

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

Rob Carr

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Jaroslav Halak Turned aside 114 of 124 shots he faced for a save percentage just a shade under .920 on the week. And while giving up three goals on just 20 shots in the first of two against rival Pittsburgh won't endear him to the locals, the rest of his week was solid and he made some key saves late in the two wins (as well as 24 of 25 power-play shots-against). Of course, the fact that he faced 124 shots in four games in the first place is not only out of his control but another reminder that the team's got bigger issues than who starts in net on any given night. But you knew that already.
Braden Holtby One might have thought he'd get one of the starts against the Penguins. Or the call against a reeling Vancouver team. Or perhaps the pre-road trip visit from Toronto. Well... one would have been wrong.
Karl Alzner Was on for just a single goal-against at even strength (although it was the game-tying goal by Vancouver Friday night) and picked up a pair of assists on Sunday for his first multi-point game of the season. Did get run around a bit by the Canucks as far as possession goes, but he also helped hold the Evgeni Malkin-James Neal duo off the scoresheet at even strength Monday night, which is no easy feat.
John Carlson Picked up an assist against the Penguins Monday night and added another helper against the Canucks - both on the power play, natch. Got even more trampled possession-wise by the Canucks than his partner, but was also on for just one even-strength goal-against on the week, which considering the week featured Crosby/Malkin times two, a Sedin twin and Phil Kessel, that's not nothing. Nice to see the top pair stepping up and acting like a top pair again.
Connor Carrick Was weirdly one of the few Caps to come out of the Vancouver matchup on the positive side of 50% in FF%, which is something... but also was just one of two Caps to come out of the Toronto game on the wrong side of 50%, which is something else. He was on the ice for five goals-against on the week, all at even strength, and got beat on two of those by the Crosby line in back-to-back games. Which really makes you question what the heck he was doing on the ice against Sidney Crosby (...twice), doesn't it?
John Erskine Hasn't played since getting sucker-punched by Vincent Lecavalier back on March 5 and the team has been weirdly quiet about his status since noting he passed his concussion protocol three days later. So... what's up, Big John?
Mike Green Got absolutely undressed by Chris Kunitz Monday night, and then again by Jussi Jokinen the following evening in Pittsburgh. He did, however, finish the week with a FF% above 50% in three of the four games this week, scored a beauty of a game-winner against the Canucks Friday night and had one of his better all-around games vs. Toronto yesterday despite not showing up on the scoresheet.
Jack Hillen Has played a little better each game since returning from the leg injury that has kept him out since the start of the season, and has seen his numbers tick up pretty dramatically since being paired with Green. He also fired a season-high five shots on net in the 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, the most shots he's taken since the seven he had against the Devils exactly three years earlier (and the second-highest mark on the team that night).
Dmitry Orlov No Cap was on the ice for more goals-against than Orlov this week, who got dinged for seven of the ten goals - all of which were scored at even-strength. That's not really what you want.
Nicklas Backstrom Picked up a point in each of the three games in which the Caps scored, and won 37 of his 59 draws this week for a healthy win percentage of 62.7% overall, including a dominant game against the Canucks in which he won 13 of 14 faceoffs. That's the good. The bad? Only Orlov was on for more even-strength goals this week, with Backstrom getting a front-row seat to six of the ten goals scored on the team overall. He also took penalties in three of the four games, and only Laich had a worse SF% than Backstrom's 27.1% (with Laich's SF% accumulated over a much smaller sample).
Jay Beagle Is on a bit of a roll offensively these days, as his assist Friday night gave him his third point in the last two weeks (almost half of his total output this season). Also posted some decent possession numbers while seeing time on all four lines, and was an even 50% in faceoffs. Tough to ask for much more from a guy who... well, probably shouldn't be seeing time on all four lines.
Troy Brouwer A relatively quiet week for Brouwer to start, but opened the scoring on Sunday with a power-play goal for his 19th of the season, then got some help from a selfless Swede for his 20th. That's just the second time in his career that he's hit the 20-goal mark (his first since 2009-10), putting him two goals shy of his career high with 13 games to go.
Jason Chimera The Caps scored six even-strength goals this week; Chimera had a hand (or foot) in three of them, with assists against Pittsburgh and Vancouver to go with the goal that bounced in off his skate yesterday against Toronto. After a bit of a cold streak, he now has points in seven of his last ten games, and scored his first goal since the beginning of February.
Eric Fehr Scored a nice goal against the Pens on Monday and added an assist against Vancouver... but it's hard to overlook the fact that he won just 12 of the 42 draws (28.6%) he took this week. It's almost - almost - as if he's not a center. Wait...
Mikhail Grabovski Continues to be out, with no timetable for return, and hasn't skated with the team lately. That's... not great.
Marcus Johansson Picked up an assist on Brouwer's power-play goal yesterday to snap a six-game pointless streak, and finished just one of the four games below 50% in FF% (despite being on for at least a goal-against in each of the week's last three games). And after a ten-game stretch in which he didn't have more than a single shot (if that), he's now got 12 shots in his last eight games... always something to watch with MoJo.
Evgeny Kuznetsov Jumped into the lineup - and the fire - by making his NHL debut against the Penguins and proceeded to lead the team in FF% right out of the gate (albeit in a small sample size). He then picked up his first (and second and third) career point just two games later, including a beauty of a pass on Wilson's goal, and added another one against the Leafs. Points aside, the adjustment to the NHL game seems to be going pretty smoothly overall for the long-awaited youngster. Next up? To find him a good spot in the lineup. Now where could the team use a talented left wing, hmm...
Brooks Laich Picked up an assist against the Penguins, then sat out the second of the home-and-home. Played against the Canucks (with abysmal possession numbers) but didn't finish the game... and now has had his day-to-day status downgraded to perhaps done for the remainder of the regular season. So there's that.
Alex Ovechkin Took a couple of undisciplined penalties on the week, and was on for six goals-against at even strength - including the eventual game-winner in both Penguins games, two of the three scored by the Canucks and both of Toronto's goals on Sunday. He did snap a four-game pointless streak with a power-play tally against the Canucks, but it's also been almost three weeks since his last even-strength goal (or point of any kind). The captain's slump continues...
Dustin Penner Continued to put up good CF% and FF% numbers throughout the week, and wasn't on for a goal-against in any of the four games. Great possession stats aside, we'd been waiting for Penner to crack the scoresheet for the first time as a pass - and he finally did just that against the Leafs, and did so in pretty snazzy fashion with a nifty backhand pass to Ward for the eventual game-winner.
Aaron Volpatti Not sure where he'd fit into the lineup at this point, but as always we wish quick healing to all those in pain. Feel better soon, sir.
Joel Ward The third line was one of the team's most dominant lines this week (thanks to efforts like this), but no member of the trio was better in the four games than Ward, who added two goals and two assists to his season totals. His second goal of the week also gave him 20 on the season - his first 20-goal campaign of his career, and according to Elias, the 8th-oldest to hit that mark for the first time.
Casey Wellman Got the call to replace an ailing Brooks Laich on Tuesday, replaced him again on Sunday, and skated roughly 20 minutes of quiet but consistent hockey over those two games - a couple of shots, good FF% and CF%, but not much else.
Tom Wilson Picked up his third goal of the season - and his first since February 6 - on a nifty Kuznetsov pass Friday night and has seen a marked improvement in his possession numbers over the last week. You mean playing with better players means playing better? Oh, unknowable universe.