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Capital Ups and Downs, Week 18: Back-Up Shake-Up and Goal Droughts

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

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Philipp Grubauer
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Got recalled for a spot start on Friday night against the Ducks and stopped 23 of the 25 shots he faced en route to earning a shootout win and the game's First Star honors. Grubauer was returned to Hershey on Saturday, but it seems likely that when Braden Holtby needs a breather the rest of the way, it'll likely be Grubauer getting the call.
Braden Holtby http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Continued his break-out campaign with a 2-1-0/1.01/.961 week that included a 27-save shutout over the Kings and a 25-of-26 winning effort in Ottawa. In his last five games, Holtby has posted a .970 save percentage (130 saves on 134 shots against) and a goals against average of 0.80... but somehow has lost two of those games. C'mon, guys.
Justin Peters http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Welp. Looks like Barry Trotz has had all he can take of Peters for now, and he's not alone - it's hard to imagine there are too many fans, players or even members of the Peters family that have a lot of confidence in his ability to stop a puck right now.
Defensemen
Karl Alzner http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Picked up an assist against the Kings and put up good possession numbers for the week. Got caught a bit flat-footed on Wayne Simmonds' game-winner on Sunday, but was otherwise solid in his own end.
John Carlson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Snapped an 11-game goal-less drought on Friday night, but has now gone seven games without a helper (though he remains among the top-five among NHL defenders in that category).
John Erskine http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png No news is no news.
Mike Green http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Assisted on a power-play goal on Tuesday night against L.A. (and had a highlight-reel hit), but that was pretty much it for a week that included fairly lousy possession numbers and a scratch on Friday night when Green was unable to go after taking a knee-on-thigh hit from Ottawa's Chris Phillips the night before.
Jack Hillen http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Has gone 15 games without a point and the last three without a shot on goal, and the underlying numbers aren't any prettier. Hillen's not bringing a whole lot to the party right now.
Matt Niskanen http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png It's been seven games since Niskanen's assist and 27 since his last goal, both of which are surprising dry spells. But his defense remains solid (there's that word again describing a guy in the second pair) and he even pounded on Scott Laughton's helmet in a fight that he had to accept because honor or something.
Dmitry Orlov http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png The Caps could obviously use Orlov, not only for his play, but also for the depth he adds to the blueline as the trade deadline approaches.
Brooks Orpik http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Notched an assist in Ottawa (giving him as many as he had last year with 11) and had terrific possession numbers against both the Sens and the Ducks.
Cameron Schilling
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Stepped in for Green on Friday night and didn't look entirely out of place, and was returned to Hershey earlier today. Schilling has now played a single NHL game in each of the last three seasons.
Forwards
Nicklas Backstrom http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Had a goal and an assist against the Kings and another helper against the Flyers, all while putting up strong underlying numbers... and yet, Backstrom didn't look quite right in either of the last two games (though he did pick up the shootout-deciding goal Friday night). Then again, a struggling Backstrom is better than plenty of players on their best days.
Jay Beagle http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Had a terrific net-drive and assist on the game-winner in Ottawa, and had better-than-usual possession numbers (granted, they're not "play this guy on the top line" numbers, because those numbers don't exist).
Troy Brouwer http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Scored a pair of goals in his 500th career game on Tuesday night, then had one of the more impressive assists you'll ever see on Friday. The results outpaced the process for the week, as his underlying numbers lagged, but at least that production was there.
Andre Burakovsky http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Struggled a bit in his return to his natural left wing (on the second line) and was scratched for the second half of the week's four games (technically, he was reassigned to Hershey for Friday night's match). But if tertiary assists were a thing, he'd have had one on each of the Caps' first goals in the games he did play. When put in a position where he can succeed, Burakovsky does a lot of things that help hockey teams win hockey games, but he has to get back to doing those things, and Trotz can help with that.
Jason Chimera http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Through the week's first three games, Chimera had the best five-on-five Corsi-For percentage on the team (62.9, just a tick above... Orpik?) and had a goal and an assist against the Ducks slotting in as the second-line left wing. He wasn't as good on Sunday and doesn't belong in the top-six on a regular basis, but maybe the tank isn't completely empty.
Eric Fehr http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Hammered the nail in L.A.'s coffin with his 16th goal of the year, but has gone a dozen games without an assist. Fehr was also on the ice for a team-high four of the six goals the Caps allowed on the week, but his line did what they do (which apparently doesn't include scoring much any more).
Marcus Johansson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png From the penthouse to the outhouse, Johansson spent most of the week back on the top line with Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin (except on the right side this time around) and looking pretty good, picking up an assist in each of the week's first two games (including this beauty). But during the second period on Sunday Johansson found himself on the fourth line for a bit. Pretty strong week nonetheless.
Evgeny Kuznetsov http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Four games and five points (and eight points in his last eight games, seven at even-strength) have Kuznetsov looking like the player we've been waiting to see for what feels like forever. The possession numbers haven't been great, but his individual puck possession, at times, has been. Is it enough for the Caps to feel good about him as their second-line center? We're not quite there yet.
Brooks Laich http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Laich has gone 15 games without a goal and has just one assist in his last nine outings... but all of those games have come consecutively, so there's that. Some production, though, would be nice.
Michael Latta http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Only four NHL forwards have played more games than Latta has without a goal this season, but you can't score if you don't shoot.
Alex Ovechkin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Similar to Backstrom, Ovechkin had a good-for-mortals week that was just okay in his book, potting a couple of goals and adding an assist while putting up good possession numbers. Of note, Ovechkin had three shots on goal in each of the last four games after putting up 18 in the previous two, but it's not for a lack of shot attempts - his sites have just been a little off.
Aaron Volpatti http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Made his season debut against the Kings, but doesn't seem likely to play too many more any time soon.
Joel Ward http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png With no goals in his last 13 games, one in his last 23 and two in his last 32, maybe it's time to shake up that third line a bit; they're ice cold.
Tom Wilson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png It's been 30 games since Wilson's last goal, and his boarding minor late in the Philly game essentially ended any hopes the Caps had of tying the game up. There aren't a lot of positives in Wilson's game right now.

Advanced stats and this week's five-on-five usage chart (below) via war-on-ice.com (note: through Friday's game; to be updated when updated chart is available):

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