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Capital Ups and Downs, Week 5: Working for the Weak End

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

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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

Goalies Trend Rink Rank* Notes
Braden Holtby
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One up, one down with a 1.52 goals against average and .936 save percentage is pretty good, and allowing a goal or two every time out certainly gives your team a chance to win a lot of games. But Holtby can be better, and some of the goals he's allowing (like the one in Detroit) have been a bit soft. Good? Yes. Good enough? Mostly yes. Good as he can be? Not yet.
Philipp Grubauer
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In his first start in nearly two weeks, Grubauer stopped 25 of 27 Flames shots through regulation, and then was beaten on a 2-on-1 break in overtime. He might want that second Calgary goal back, but turned in the type of performance you'd reasonably expect from him, all told.
Karl Alzner
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Alzner's strong season continued last week, especially at five-on-five, where he posted a 53.7 Corsi-For percentage, an assist, a team-high plus-ten high-danger scoring chance plus-minus, and a team-high four on-ice goals-for (in a week in which the team had just five total) while being on the ice for just one goal-against at fives in 58 minutes of ice time. Alzner may not like analytics, but they like him just fine.
John Carlson
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Now pointless in four-straight, Carlson lost his defensive partner in the Detroit game and was on the ice for three of the four goals the team allowed at five-on-five over the week, despite possession numbers that (probably unsurprisingly) got better as the week went on and ended up looking pretty good. The big question with Carlson at this point continues to be whether or not he can effectively quarterback a struggling power play.
Taylor Chorney
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Played his first games since before Halloween in the wake of the Orpik injury, and that's about all we have to say about Taylor Chorney.
Matt Niskanen
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Snapped a seven-game pointless streak with assists in back-to-back games to end the week and posted the blueline's best five-on-five Corsi-for percentage (56.6) and Corsi plus-minus (+16), while also managing a stout 73.7 high-danger scoring chance percentage at fives. The Alzner-Niskanen pair has been up and down in the past, but is riding high at present (and posting a 54.9 CF% and 64.3 GF% for the year).
Dmitry Orlov
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Going from Nate Schmidt to Taylor Chorney is going to have a negative impact on just about anyone's possession numbers, and Orlov is no exception - after four-straight games comfortable above 60% in five-on-five CF%, Orlov posted a 41.9% in last week's three games (but still has respectable numbers with Chorney overall)  and a team low minus-10 Corsi plus-minus. This just wasn't Orlov's week.
Brooks Orpik
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Injured against the Wings, Orpik is day-to-day, which carries with it the silver lining of allowing the team to see what other options it has to partner with Carlson in the top pair (i.e. Nate Schmidt).
Nate Schmidt
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Elevated to top-pair duty, Schmidt struggled a bit against the Flyers (his 44.4 CF% was a season-low), but bounced back in a big way with a dominant effort against the flames (68.1 CF%, +17 CF). Could he be a long-term option in that role? The small sample begs to be expanded.
Nicklas Backstrom
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Potted his sixth goal of the year in Philly (more than a month earlier than he reached that mark a season ago) and caved in opponents at five-on-five, doubling them up in on-ice shot attempts (52-26). You've gotta think a torrid run of points is on the horizon if he can keep this up.
Jay Beagle
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Had a goal and an assist and won 64 percent of the draws he took on the week, and bounced back to post a 57.7 Corsi-for percentage in the week's last two games after getting utterly destroyed in Detroit (to the tune of a minus-17 in shot attempts and an accompanying 13 CF%).
Andre Burakovsky
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The confidence is back into Burakovsky's game (he must be better-read than we realized), and it's only a matter of time before the results start showing up on the score sheet. Burakovksy picked up a primary helper on the week's last Caps goal, and led the team over the three-game stretch in five-on-five Corsi-for percentage (67.9, including two games above 70%), Corsi plus-minus (+28), individual high-danger scoring chances (six, all at five-on-five), and penalties drawn (three). Kid's a timebomb ready to explode.
Jason Chimera
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Who led the Caps in goals (two), points (three) and power-play points (scoring the team's only two extra-man tallies)? Why, Jason Chimera, of course. Granted, all of that production came in just one of the week's nine periods, and Chimera did post a ghastly 9.1 Corsi-for percentage in Detroit (two shot attempts for, 20 against). But lead the team, get the green arrow.
Marcus Johansson
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The third member of the all-Swedish second line, Johansson's story is similar - strong possession numbers and little to show for it (other than a sublime helper on the Backstrom tally). One thing that would help? Cleaner zone entries on the power play, one of Johansson's real strengths... generally.
Evgeny Kuznetsov
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Had a gorgeous assist in Philly on his patent-pending fake wrap-around reversal, as well as a less flashy set-up on one of the Chimera tallies, and was nearly dead even in possession and face-offs for the week. He can create more offense, though, and the Caps need him to.
Brooks Laich
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Picked up his first assist of the season (really) against the Flames to double his season point total (really). Laich's underlying numbers continue to be markedly more impressive than his production, and at some point you've probably got to come to grips with the reality that if the gap is going to close, it's probably not going to be via a spike in the latter.
Michael Latta
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Scored his first goal in nearly two years (and the second of his career) to get the Caps on the board against Calgary and, like Laich, has both of his points on the season in the Caps' last five games. What a coincidence.
T.J. Oshie
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Made good on that beautiful Kuznetsov dish against the Flyers, but that's his only point in the last seven games. The Caps need more from Oshie, whether it's at even-strength or on the power play (or, preferably, both).
Alex Ovechkin
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Pumped a ridiculous 15 shots on goal in Detroit as he keeps trying to score that elusive 484th career goal (that will count) to push him past Sergei Fedorov for the all-time lead among Russian-born players. But he's clearly starting to press at this point, and didn't register a point all week.
Chandler Stephenson
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Sent down to Hershey with no points in nine NHL games to show for it, but he'll be back.
Justin Williams
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On the one hand, there was the goal and assist against Philly (which gave him 11 points over his previous 11 games) and the decent possession numbers (despite taking regular shifts with Corsi anchors). On the other hand STOP ERASING OVECHKIN GOALS, DUDE.
Tom Wilson
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Engaged in his first fisticuffs of the season (and, really, had no choice in the matter), and doubled his own point total on the campaign with a couple of helpers against the Flyers, snapping a nine-game pointless skid. Wilson is still finding his way, but is hopefully starting to do more of the things that matter.

*Rink Rank number is the percentage of total votes received by each player over the past week that were "thumbs up" - check all of them out here. Stats via and Hockey Analysis.