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Capital Ups and Downs, Week 6: A Historical Week

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

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

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

Goalies Trend Rink Rank* Notes
Braden Holtby
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Holtby is a fantastic goalie. Two dozen teams in this league would clamor to sign him if they could... but there needs to be a little more consistency. Saving the showstoppers is great, but saving the softies counts just as much.
Philipp Grubauer
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Grubby Gruby took an L this week in Washington's clash with Dallas. Fortunately, the loss was squarely not Grubauer's fault, and honestly, that's about what you shoot for from your backup goalie. Good job, Phil.
Karl Alzner
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You liked Karl this week, and he was one of four defensemen to pick up a goal against the Avs... but a couple bone-headed plays against Dallas on Thursday leave lots of question marks for this second pairing.
John Carlson
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Carlson continues to be an offensive dynamo, chipping in with one of the seven goals scored Saturday night (although that was his only point of the week), but he also has been something of a defensive liability. Of course, ol' Orpik wasn't doing much to pick up any of Johnny's slack - quite the opposite, potentially - and now paired with a fresh-faced youth like Schmidt might not make Carlson's assignments any easier.
Taylor Chorney
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Chorney's holding a regular place in the lineup while Orpik heals, and while he's not likely to become more than a fringe sixth or seventh defender, he deserves credit for what was his best week to date with the Capitals. Chorney tallied his first point with the Caps when he assisted on Backstrom's goal against Dallas, and then backed it up with his second on Ovechkin's goal against Colorado. More importantly for his role on the team, he wasn't on the ice for any goals against this week.
Matt Niskanen
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Niskanen was on the ice for more high-danger scoring chances than he was off this week. That second pairing was real...quirky. Let's say quirky.
Dmitry Orlov
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The finest potato from the Russian Blueliner motherland in a while. Orlov is decisive, quick, rarely sloppy, and adds a ton on the offensive end - including literal magic, apparently. Add that to the fact that Orlov's Relative Corsi percentage was through the roof this week, and that the Caps had more high-danger scoring chances while he was on the ice, and Dima is really turning into exactly what the Caps hoped he would be.
Brooks Orpik
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N/A Still healing, but if he has to miss games these are the games for him to miss.
Nate Schmidt
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Nate Schmidt is the most exciting defensive prospect since Cochran brought out the glove. His Relative Corsi percentage was down this week - actually, way down - but that's due in part to the fact that with Brooks Orpik out, Schmidt was playing on the top pairing against opponents' star players.
Nicklas Backstrom
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Is Backstrom's destiny to forever assist on history, like a geography T.A. or the guy who helped Teddy Roosevelt pick out his moosing outfit? Shall he ever be our Russian Batman's Robinov? Heck, if it means he continues playing like he did this week, let's hope he does. Against the Stars, Backstrom's had a +16 corsi and the Capitals improved their possession by almost 27% when Nick was on the ice running things.
Jay Beagle
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The Dogfather brings a lot of jump to the bottom six, although he did have a less-than-Beagle-esque week in the dot, winning just a shade over 50% of his draws.
Andre Burakovsky
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*INSERT RECORD SCRATCH NOISE HERE* Andre was not invited to the party on Saturday, instead seeing time as a healthy scratch. Let's not sound the alarms yes - Burakovsky is still young, still rough, and much less experienced with nearly-this-high level hockey as, say, Kuznetsov is. Hopefully, he takes the message the scratching is intended to be.
Jason Chimera
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Yes, his speed is still a remarkably valuable asset on nights when the team is forced to play dump and chase, but some nights, they play dump and chase because Chimmer and his ilk aren't controlling the puck well enough. Life, non? Still, nice way to bounce back from a disastrous turnover against the Stars with a couple of points against Colorado.
Marcus Johansson
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Marcus Johansson is an exceptionally talented hockey player. He is not soft. He is good at sports. I like him and he probably does nice things for people let them merge even though they signaled far too late, that sort of thing. BUT, with one goal and three points in his last 10 games on a talented top-six and PP unit that spit hot fire, MoJo is a hard Down this week. He didn't even score against the Avalanche, and EVERYONE scored against the Avalanche!
Evgeny Kuznetsov
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What can you say about Evgeny "The Doozy" Kuznetsov that hasn't already been said about exceptionally fine cheesecake or Man's general love of flight? He's consistent, excellent, and was naught but a quivering phantasm until he arrived. In the press box on Saturday against Colorado, a reporter-who-shall-remain-nameless leaned over to me and said, "Jesus, is it possible Ovechkin isn't the best Russian on the team?" Now, no. No, it's not. But, it's a fun question. I like this question. Ask it to me again in five years.
Brooks Laich
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Like the difference between his Ups and Downs this week, Brooks Laich has been pretty much invisible. He has one goal and one assist in November, and while he is not costing the Capitals games, he is not doing much to help them win, either. Will Stan Galiev get a shot at Laich's spot on the fourth line? It's possible.
Michael Latta
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Michael got a whole Latta love this week from voters; and you say there's no place for the fight in hockey! Yeah, sure, Latta has added a jump to the fourth line that is precisely what the doctor ordered, but don't look now - he's also a positive possession player. The Caps took more shots than they gave up when Iron Mike Latta was on the ice this week.
T.J. Oshie
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Oshie picked up two points this week, an assist against LOLorado and one on Ovechkin's milestone tally. T.J.'s play has been a little bullheaded, squandering possession by over-relying on his talent in the zone. Hard to fault a kid for a quality you actually like about him, but, there it is. Cold world.
Alex Ovechkin
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None of you, literally NONE of you voted down the Great 8 this week (okay that's not true) and good on you for it. How did the newly-minted greatest Russian goal-scorer of all time celebrate his crown? By adorning it with a slap-happy other against the Avalanche on Saturday. Keep your jewels; give me Ovi goals, from now til Ragnarök.
Justin Williams
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J-Will was Up in your hearts and minds this week, and deservedly so. He tallied against Colorado (who didn't, am I right? Hey-O!), and that, plus some other twirling dipsy-doos, were enough to forgive the fact that he was actually a negative possession player this week, not actually doing much with many of those twirls.
Tom Wilson
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Took a penalty against the Stars that probably should have been coincidental minors, then took a coincidental minor penalty against the Avalanche for doing... well, not a heck of a lot, unless you count getting cross-checked in the head as a punishable offense. Wilson claims he is aware of the new attention he is under from officials and opposing teams. I believe him. He also claims he does not hit "to hurt people." I believe him, though that has little to do with being a reckless player - not that I'm saying he is. He was an Up from you this week, with his fourth line getting some good chances, but this is a guy for whom the discovery of his identity will be one of the major story lines this year.

*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.