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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 24

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 Riding a 3-0-1/1.96/.944 hot streak (and a 4-2-1/2.13/.935 record since arriving in town), Halak did the unthinkable - he didn't respect the streak and ditched his plain white mask for a red, white and blue eagle-covered number. Since then, he's gone 0-0-3/2.47/.913 and missed a start, and was 0-0-2/3.23/.892 last week (with some big saves, some bad rebounds, and some poor shootout efforts mixed in). Hey, don't say we didn't warn you.
Braden Holtby Was arguably the best Capital on the ice in the 4-2 loss to Boston, and that's not just damning by faint praise - he was fantastic in the first period of that one, stopping all 15 shots he faced, and gave the team a chance to get something going. They couldn't, but that loss wasn't on the netminder.
Karl Alzner Was on the ice for four of the eight five-on-five goals the Caps surrendered and ended up in the neighborhood of 40% in possession metrics for the week while facing opponents' top competition, as usual. It's not all on him, of course, but the top pair's shutdown defender has to do a better job of shutting down the opposition.
Julien Brouillette Recalled from Hershey for the Nashville game and wasn't particularly effective, to put it mildly - in just over 12 minutes of five-on-five ice time, the Caps were out-attempted 12-1 and outshot 8-1 with Brouillette on the ice. It's almost as if a guy who made his NHL debut at 27 might not be all that good.
John Carlson Picked up power-play assists against the Kings and Preds, was dinged for one less goal than Alzner, and had slightly better underlying numbers. Not a terrible week for the Caps' top defenseman.
Connor Carrick It seems unlikely that Carrick will get into any more Caps games that matter, and one really has to wonder why he wasn't sent to Hershey on a paper transaction to make him eligible for the AHL playoffs. Add it to the list of questionable personnel decisions the team has made this year.
John Erskine Got back in the lineup for the first time in more than three weeks against the Bruins and, let's be honest, he's had worse games (he even managed his third assist of the season in garbage time). If he's healthy, he's a better option than Brouillette... right?
Mike Green In a week in which the Caps scored just five goals that didn't come on the power play (where Green has been relegated to second-unit duty), Green was on the ice for three of those, assisting on two (with the first coming as a result of his puck-carrying and the second the result of his vision and hands). He was also on the ice for just one goal-against in the three games (though his underlying numbers were nothing to write home about), and he picked up the slack in a big way when the Caps were down a defensman for most of the Nashville game, playing a whopping 34:08. Green is living at the extremes these days - flip a coin and see what you're gonna get on a given night.
Jack Hillen Hillen's bad-luck Caps career continued to be just that as he collided with teammate Alex Ovechkin in overtime against the Kings and took the worst of it (in much the same way a bug might take the worst of a collision with a speeding car's windshield).
Dmitry Orlov How this guy isn't getting points (none in his last 11 games) is a mystery, but he's showing an awful lot of promise... with some mind-numbing mistakes scattered in.
Patrick Wey Was having a bad week (was on the ice for six of the nine goals the Caps had allowed and the team was outshot 24-6 at fives when he was out there) before fighting Rich Clune, which made his week a heck of a lot worse.
Nicklas Backstrom Picked up a helper against Los Angeles and then pretty much willed the Caps to a point in Nashville with the game-tying goal and two assists. No Cap skater was on the ice for more Caps goals than Nicky's six (and just one opposition tally), and with possession numbers hovering around 50%, he was among the team's best there as well. If the Caps had a struggling wing they wanted to provide a kickstart for, pairing him with Backstrom would seem a logical move. Know of anyone?
Jay Beagle No. Just no. The Caps were brutally out-shot, out-attempted and out-played when Beagle was on the ice last week, which wouldn't be so bad if he was toiling away on the fourth line, but for six utterly fruitless games, he's been centering the top line. And while he might not be an anchor that's preventing the S.S. Ovechkin from going anywhere, he's certainly not a rising tide that's going to lift any ships.
Chris Brown Picked up an assist against the Kings with some hard work and was fine the rest of the week before giving way to a (presumably) healthy Grabovski in the lineup on Sunday night and heading back to Hershey (then recalled this morning). Brown has looked like a capable fourth-line NHLer in his time in Washington, so there's that.
Troy Brouwer Continues to roll with a pair of helpers against the Kings and one against the Bruins and then two big goals against the Preds to set a new career high with 23. Like Backstrom, Brouwer was on the ice for six of the Caps' nine goals on the week and just two goals-against.
Jason Chimera Scored a late first period goal against Boston to cut the lead to 3-1, but was on for three power-play goals-against and two five-on-five markers in the first two games of the week before settling down for a relatively quiet night in Nashville.
Eric Fehr Had the secondary assist on the game-tying goal against L.A., but a mediocre week otherwise, as the third line's improbable run has started to slow a bit.
Mikhail Grabovski Grabo's back! Help us, Mikhail Grabovski, you're our only hope...
Marcus Johansson Has gone 13 games without an even-strength point, despite spending almost all of that time skating on the top line. What's more, no Cap skater was on the ice for more five-on-five goals-against last week than Johansson (five, including the last three), and his underlying numbers were bad. Marcus Johansson may be a fine third-wheel on a skill line, but he clearly can't be the second option right now, which is what he's being asked to be.
Evgeny Kuznetsov How about a game-tying shorthanded goal with under a minute left for your first NHL tally, and a shot from an absurd angle for your second? This kid has been super so far, a real bright spot going forward and, yes, worth the wait.
Brooks Laich Sounds confident that he's ahead of schedule and could return before the end of the season... but will there be any need to rush him back?
Alex Ovechkin Scored twice on the power play early against the Kings and added the primary assist on the Kuznetsov shorty late. But March concluded with Ovechkin failing to register even a single even-strength point and posting a minus-17 rating in 15 games while putting up some pretty atrocious underlying numbers. Some of that has to do with his coach, linemates, goalies and bad luck... but a lot of it has to do with Ovechkin. The lead-by-example captain isn't leading his team anywhere right now.
Dustin Penner There's a lot to like about Penner (including his goal on Tuesday night against his former team)... so get to liking it while you can, because it probably won't be around too long.
Aaron Volpatti It's tough to come up with something to fill this space every week, so if you're interested in placing a personal ad here, contact blog management.
Joel Ward No goals this week? What the what?
Tom Wilson Ramped up the physicality against the Kings (credited with nine hits in just 14 shifts) and the anger against the Preds (oh, the daggers he shot at Clune), but stayed under control in both games, as well as against the big bad B's. Quiet week otherwise.