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Capital Ups and Downs, Week 21: Reinforcements Arrive... and None Too Soon

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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
Braden Holtby Wasn't at his best against Pittsburgh, but did his part in the loss to Carolina and then picked up his seventh shutout and 30th win of the season against Toronto to snap a modest three-game losing streak. All-in-all, it was a 1-2-0/2.06/.937 week for the Caps' number one netminder, who just keeps on keepin' on.
Justin Peters Chaired the Tim Gleason Welcoming Committee, but otherwise had a quiet week. It's tough to see Peters getting more than a few starts the rest of the way.
Karl Alzner A pair of assists on the week give Alzner a career-high (tied) 18 points on the campaign and four points in his last six games. Alzner (and partner Matt Niskanen) got beat up a bit in terms of five-on-five possession - Alzner had the worst relative Corsi-For percentage of any Caps blueliner and of any Caps skater who played more than one game and has been under 41% in each of the last four games (ouch) - but Holtby had his back (a .967 save percentage at fives), so the damage was minimal... for now.
John Carlson With a goal and an assist against the Pens and a helper against the Leafs, Carlson has four points in his last four games and six in his last seven (and if he sticks on the top power-play unit, look for a further spike in those numbers). Carlson's possession numbers were good, but his goals-against was ugly, as he was on the ice for all four Pittsburgh goals and two of Carolina's three (so six of the seven the Caps allowed on the week). Guess Holtby didn't have his back like he had Alzner's - Carlson only had a .833 save percentage behind him at five-on-five last week.
John Erskine How much would John Erskine have played for Barry Trotz? The world will likely never know.
Tim Gleason Acquired for Jack Hillen and a pick on Friday, Gleason slots in as Mike Green's partner in the third pair and the duo looked good in Gleason's debut (in which he led the team in five-on-five Corsi and Fenwick plus-minus). Then again... Toronto. Still, Gleason is a good depth move for the Caps, and gives Trotz renewed confidence in that pair, which will take a burden off the top-four defensemen as well as getting Green more ice time. What's not to like?
Mike Green Pointless in five games and goalless in 15 (with just one in his last 31 and two in his last 50... seriously), Green has lost his spot quarterbacking the top power play. But now that the trade deadline has passed and he's still here and playing alongside a new partner, expect good things from Green, whose production should start to catch up to his strong possession numbers.
Jack Hillen
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Thanks for the memories, Jack, and good luck going forward... because we all know you didn't have good luck here.
Matt Niskanen Similar to Alzner (unsurprisingly), Niskanen had a rough week in terms of possession, but it didn't show up on the scoreboard as Braden Holtby stopped 49 of the 50 shots he faced with Niskanen on the ice. The one that got through? Niskanen probably could've been credited with the primary assist on Brandon Sutter's shorty.
Dmitry Orlov Take it away, Mac: "Orlov is still in limbo. It’s improving slowly and we’re waiting for it to get to a level where he’s 100 percent or close to 100 percent before he can play and I’m not sure when that is going to be."
Brooks Orpik Picked up his 15th assist of the season with a good point shot against the Leafs and had relatively good underlying numbers to go along with a miscue or two for the week. Those "relatively good underlying numbers" have been a bit of a trend lately, as Orpik has posted a positive five-on-five relative Corsi-For percentage in five of his last six and nine of his last 13 games. In fact, dating back to February 4, no Caps defenseman that has played in more than three games has posted a better relative CF% than Orpik. For real.
Cameron Schilling
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Played the Pittsburgh game and posted impressive possession numbers... which were misleading because Schilling was largely overmatched and forced to take two obstruction penalties. He's got work to do, but a 61.2 CF% in three games this year isn't nothing.
Nicklas Backstrom Has just one assist in his last four games and was conspicuously absent from the team's six-on-five unit against the Pens (though he'd skated a lengthy shift immediately prior). Just a blip... we hope.
Jay Beagle Scratch, fourth-line center, second-line center (?!). All in a week's work for Jay Beagle, who doesn't have a point in his last eight games, but actually posted the best relative CF% at fives among any of the team's skaters that played more than a game (sitting out that Pens game helps).
Troy Brouwer Had a goal and an assist (off a big offensive-zone power-play faceoff win... something he's done a lot of lately) against Pittsburgh and a helper against Toronto. For all of Trotz's line-shuffling, Brouwer's spot on the right side of the second line is about as etched-in-stone as it gets, as he's now started 58-straight games there.
Andre Burakovsky
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Relegated to Hershey (for now), despite having the team's best 5v5 CF% and on-ice goal rate and the third-best point-rate and goals-for percentage on the squad. The answer to the team's first-line right wing search may have been under their nose this whole time... but for now, Burakovsky is only the answer to, "Who's the Bears' most talented player?"
Jason Chimera Picked up two assists against the Pens (his only two points in the last nine games), and that earned him a promotion to the second line for the Hurricanes before being dropped to the reunited "Gang Green" line with Eric Fehr and Joel Ward on Sunday. Chimera has been up and (mostly) down all year, but hopefully that trio can find a spark like they did around this time last year.
Eric Fehr What a long, strange trip it's been for Fehr, the most recent leg of which has produced four points in his last five games, despite woeful possession numbers - a 43.9 CF% last week and a 43.7% mark since February 2. His line needs to get going again like they were before the All-Star break (and you can say that for most of the team).
Curtis Glencross Acquired for a couple of picks, Glencross improves the Caps' depth up front and is playing for his next contract so he should be plenty motivated. Is he a fit on the Caps' top line? Not ideally... but we'll likely get to see for ourselves before long.
Marcus Johansson It looks like Johansson is the first-line right wing du jour, which isn't a terrible option... if he clicks with Backstrom and Ovechkin and it looks more like 2012 or this year than 2013-14. But his game has slid a bit lately and needs to get back on track.
Evgeny Kuznetsov Hasn't scored in 12 games or had an assist in eight, but looks to be the second scoring line center that the Caps are going to head into the playoffs with, so there's that. Perhaps Glencross proves to be a shot in the arm for that line, but regardless, Kuznetsov is likely going to have to figure out a way to provide some secondary scoring if this team is going to go anywhere in April and beyond.
Brooks Laich Twenty-five games and counting for Laich, who has been bumped down to the fourth line as his struggles continue.
Michael Latta Only drew in for the rough-and-tumble Pittsburgh game and held his own in those skirmishes better than in the Corsi battles.
Alex Ovechkin Three games, three goals and an added assist to boot. Ovechkin had solid numbers across the board and has jumped into a tie for the League lead in points with Backstrom and two others. Fun fact: if Ovechkin didn't score a goal in the 2014 portion of this season, his 24 tallies in 2015 would have him tied for 15th in the League.
Aaron Volpatti
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Cleared waivers and was assigned to Hershey, probably never to be heard from again in D.C.
Joel Ward Potted an empty-netter against the Leafs to continue his one-goal-every-three-games pattern that goes back ten games... so expect a pair of games off for Ward before his next tally.
Tom Wilson It was a penalty-filled week for Wilson, who picked up six minutes against the Pens, a boarding minor and a fight against the 'Canes and then got dinged for embellishment against the Leafs. Sideshows aside, Wilson's underlying numbers were solid, and he could be in line for another look on the top line before the season is out.

Advanced stats and this week's five-on-five usage chart (below) via

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