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Capital Ups and Downs: Week 25

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

Bruce Bennett

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Jaroslav Halak Yanked halfway through the Dallas debacle, Halak has gone 0-2-2/3.29/.899 since returning home from that West Coast swing (and is 0-2-3/2.75/.912 since changing his mask in his last five games after a hot start in DC that saw him go 4-2-1/2.13/.935). For what it's worth, Halak now has a worse goals against average and save percentage for the Caps this season than Philipp Grubauer. Cristobal Huet he ain't.
Braden Holtby Was good in relief of Halak and playing behind a non-existent team defense against the Stars, and then stopped 29 of 31 even-strength shots and three shootout attempts in a win over the Isles. Holtby hasn't been great, but he does have the Caps' last two wins. Unfortunately for everyone involved, those wins were two weeks apart.
Karl Alzner Had great views of the Stars' first, Devils' second, and Isles' third goals while posting middling possession numbers. That should probably be enough for a down arrow, but how much have expectations on Alzner been lowered?
Julien Brouillette In just over 39 even-strength minutes in three games, Brouillette managed to be on the ice for half of the eight even-strength goals the Caps allowed last week (looking particularly bad on the first New York goal), the most of any skater on the team. That he got so much ice time (or any ice time, really) in critically important games speaks to the Caps' lack of depth at the position.
John Carlson On the ice for three of the four goals the Caps scored last week (seriously, the Caps scored just four goals last week), Carlson picked up an assist on Saturday night and was only on for two goals-against. That's almost Norris-worthy compared to the rest of this crew.
Connor Carrick Sometimes it's good for young players, especially defensemen, to watch some games from the press box and get a different perspective, so hopefully Carrick is doing just that... and learning what not to do by watching his teammates.
John Erskine Picked up a quick minus-two against Dallas (getting caught on a bad line change for the Stars' second tally and taking part in a picture's-worth-a-thousand-words microcosm of the Caps' season on the third). But Erskine wasn't particularly bad, he was just particularly Erskine (we'll leave it to you to note the difference).
Mike Green Green was at his worst against Dallas, caught sleeping/chasing/who-knows-what-ing on three goals that included a shorty and a 2-on-0 (as well as the goal that launched a thousand Ovechkin criticisms). And now, he's out for at least the next two games with an upper-body injury. Rough week.
Jack Hillen Hasn't played since getting run over by Ovechkin in overtime against the Kings, and not heading to St. Louis or Carolina. Poor guy.
Dmitry Orlov Orlov has gone 14 games without a point, but continues to pace Caps blueliners in most possession stats while posting the lowest PDO of the group. Hard luck for a kid with a bright future.
Tyson Strachan Played two games and actually posted decent underlying numbers in both. The overlying numbers, however, included being on the ice for three of the five goals the Caps allowed in those two games. Do not want.
Patrick Wey Joins Green and Hillen on the shelf with an upper-body injury that we can probably speculate on but won't. Get well soon, Pat.
Nicklas Backstrom Assisted on the lone Caps' goal on Friday night before picking up a goal of his own en route to a comeback victory over the Isles the following evening. By the way, that assist against New Jersey was his 60th of the season, the third time in his career in which he's hit that plateau (and the first since the 2009-10 season). In fact, since Backstrom entered the League in 2006-07, only five other players have had at least three 60+ assist seasons - Sidney Crosby, Joe Thornton, Henrik Sedin, Marc Savard and Pavel Datsyuk. Not bad company.
Jay Beagle Had a weirdly dominant night in terms of possession in Tuesday's lopsided loss to Dallas, but then followed it up by being on the ice for both Devils' goals on Friday. By Saturday he was back on the fourth line where he belongs... and wasn't on for a goal-against, which is something.
Chris Brown Was summoned from Hershey - again - as the Caps hosted the Stars and proceeded to get absolutely run around by his fellow Texans in his roughly eight minutes of ice time, posting the worst CF% on the team and getting dinged for two goals-against. A "healthy" Penner's return to the lineup meant a return to the Bears for Brown... who is probably better off there for at least a little while longer.
Troy Brouwer Had a relatively quiet week overall, with just a single assist on the Caps' first goal Saturday night and a minor penalty later in the game serving as his only appearance on the scoresheet. Brouwer's hot hand appears to have cooled a bit of late (which isn't wholly unexpected), with his two-goal performance last week marking his only two goals in the last eight games.
Jason Chimera Speaking of hot hands cooling off, Chimera's suddenly gone ice cold, with just a single point of any kind over those same last eight games, a goal against the Bruins - and no points over the last week (although one could make the argument that he deserved an assist on Ward's game-tying tally on Saturday, considering he was one of the objects the puck bounced off of). With just five goals in their last three games overall, the Caps could certainly use a bit more secondary scoring from the likes of Chimera and friends.
Eric Fehr Fun fact: Every single Caps' player was on the ice for at least one of the Stars' five goals on Tuesday night... except for Fehr. How that happened is a bit of a mystery, but in a game like that you take whatever "positive" stat you can. Beyond that weird little blip was a quiet week for another member of the Green Line, with no points and just two shots-on-goal for #16.
Mikhail Grabovski Set up Ovechkin for the Caps' lone goal on Friday night and still needs to regain his rhythm as he makes his return from a long injury-induced layoff. Maybe signing a new contract with his current team would help him find it... just a thought.
Marcus Johansson Remember when Marcus Johansson never shot the puck ever? He took a little break from that this week, racking up eight shots on goal over the three-game span (including four against the Stars). Even his "pass" to Kuznetsov on the team's first goal on Saturday was a bluffed shot attempt-turned-pretty assist. Keep that shooting mojo going, MoJo.
Evgeny Kuznetsov Still appears to be finding his legs in the NHL, as he was abused a couple of times in the defensive zone this week (including twice in that fiasco against Dallas). Nice awareness on what became the Caps' first goal on Saturday, though, and a beautiful shootout-winning goal to boot. Hard not to imagine what this kid will look like when he finally finds those NHL legs, isn't it?
Brooks Laich Well, at least he's got plenty of time to catch up on his favorite television programs...
Alex Ovechkin Had the great honor of being thrown under the bus by his coach for what was admittedly not a great play against the Stars, but bounced back with the Caps' lone goal against the Devils on Friday night - which was *GASP* an even-strength goal, his first since the end of February (and added an even-strength assist a night later for good measure). The captain now sits at 49 goals... with four games remaining. Stay tuned.
Dustin Penner Sat out Tuesday's game against the Stars with an illness, played just over six minutes against the Devils (and took a penalty) and then was out again on Saturday with an upper-body injury and is day-to-day. Heal up quick, Penner - those fourth-line minutes won't fill themselves.
Aaron Volpatti Made his first appearance in over two months when he dressed for Saturday's game, and proceeded to skate a relatively uneventful 9:22. So Volpatti returns to the lineup and the Caps snap a five-game losing skid. Coincidence?? ......yes. Very much so. But welcome back, Aaron.
Joel Ward Had a bit of an undisciplined week, with penalties in back-to-back games for the first time this season (including another double-minor for high-sticking....seriously, Joel, it's still too soon). But it's easy to forgive him for that when he goes out there and just does his thing, which this year apparently is goal-scoring, as he picked up his 23rd of the season with a huge game-tying goal against the Islanders.
Tom Wilson Was on for two of the Dallas goals Tuesday night, gave Patrick Elias a bit of a rough run on Friday night with a slightly late but otherwise legal hit... then had to drop the gloves on Saturday after a somewhat less legal one on Mike Halmo. Just a reminder that he's twenty and still learning where that line is. He'll get there.