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Capital Ups and Downs, Week 25: Secondary Scoring Shows Up

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

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Braden Holtby Didn't last 15 minutes in Saturday's debacle against the Preds, but bounced back with a huge win in Gotham (and had beaten Jersey earlier in the week). Take away that Nashville stinker and Holtby's 2-0-0/1.98/.929 line for the week is more of what we've been used to since early December ("Other than that, how'd you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?").
Justin Peters Picked up a hard-luck loss in relief of Holtby on Saturday, surrendering just one goal on 14 shots in 43:30 (and if this was baseball, the loss would've been Holtby's). Peters has quietly posted a 1.88 GAA and .929 save percentage in his last three appearances, albeit that comes over nearly a month-and-a-half span.
Karl Alzner Keeps bumping up those career-high offensive numbers as he picked up a goal and an assist against the Devils and continues to be a key contributor to a penalty kill that hasn't allowed a goal in the last four games. Alzner was on the ice for two five-on-five goals-for and two -against last week, which is about what you'd expect given that he was on for 34 shot-attempts-for and 36 -against. Funny how that works sometimes.
John Carlson Had a secondary assist on the opening marker at MSG, breaking an eight-game assist-less drought, but Carlson managed seven shots on goal in the week's first two games and had the best relative Corsi-For percentage of any of the team's blueliners and a plus-13 in Corsi for the week (at least plus-three in each game), not to mention a perfect week as the team's top penalty-killer. Now, if he can just cut down on those "Big Mistakes"...
John Erskine Whether or not Erskine's NHL career is over remains to be seen, but he's skating with the boys and it sounds as if life for Big John is getting back to normal, which is obviously the most important thing.
Tim Gleason No Cap defender has a worse raw or relative Corsi at five-a-side since the trade deadline than Gleason (though he's still on the right side of 50% in the former metric), and the burly blueliner hasn't been on the right side of the possession ledger in any of his last six games against NHL teams (he was plus-six against Buffalo), despite some favorable deployments. If not for a .940 save percentage behind him at fives, Gleason would be looking a lot worse right now.
Mike Green Scored an early third-period goal on Saturday to pull the Caps to within one and up the drama for the last twenty, but didn't have much more to show for his three-game efforts.
Matt Niskanen Had two primary assists against the Devils (including the shot that was redirected for the overtime win), another against the Preds on Green's goal and then added a secondary helper against the Rangers on the game-tying tally. No Cap skater was on the ice for more goals-for on the week than Niskanen (six of Washington's 11)... or goals-against (four of the eight D.C. allowed), and the underlying numbers told a similar story. Niskanen has seven assists in his last six games; no other Cap has more than four assists (or five points, total).
Dmitry Orlov
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Rehabbing in Hershey and possibly slated to join the Caps later this week, Orlov has three assists in his first two games since last April. If he and Green could recapture the chemistry they had last year, that would be a huge boost to the third pair going forward.
Brooks Orpik Picked up his 17th assist on the season on the empty-netter in New York, which is the most he's had in a campaign since 2009-10 (and second-most in his career), and posted the second-best possession stats on the blueline, behind partner Carlson. Solid.
Nate Schmidt
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Reassigned to Hershey once Gleason was ready to return to the lineup, and that's probably unfortunate for Green, who has a 55.1 CF% with Schmidt (though his 52.8 CF% with Gleason is nothing to sneeze at).
Nicklas Backstrom Assisted on the Ovechkin power-play goal in New York, marking Backstrom's first point in four games (as he continues to look for his first goal since February 19 and his first even-strength tally since February 3). Backstrom is too good for slumps like these to continue, so expect a breakout any game now, whether that's with Ovechkin on his flank or not.
Jay Beagle Still out, and the Caps have missed his goal-scoring (seriously?) and effort (seriously) at times in his absence.
Troy Brouwer Snapped a lengthy goal drought with a pair against the Predators (including a shorty), and added an assist on the nail-in-the-coffin empty netter against the Rangers, but continues to get second-line and top-power-play minutes regardless of production (or lack thereof).
Jason Chimera Had the game-winning goal (his first in 20 games) and an insurance marker (his first in three minutes) on Sunday afternoon and had good underlying numbers for the week. MSG faithful have to be sick of Chimera, no?
Eric Fehr Snapped an eight-game goalless string with a seeing-eye shot from the point against the Devils and assisted on both Chimera goals Sunday. Perhaps as importantly, Fehr has posted plus-eight Corsi games in three of his last four outings (the exception being a minus-eight against Nashville), which is something the team desperately needs from him and his linemates going forward.
Curtis Glencross After a hot start to his Caps career, Glencross has cooled off (no points in his last five games) and has been relegated to the fourth line at times. His four goals and six points in 12 games for Washington is about all that could reasonably be expected of him, but this wasn't a great week.
Marcus Johansson Assisted on the week's first goal, scored the last one and added a pair of helpers in between, and was on the ice for a team-high six Caps goals. Johansson needs three points to tie his career high, and hopefully is getting back on track after a pretty cold second-half of the winter.
Evgeny Kuznetsov Deflected a Niskanen shot past Cory Schneider to beat the Devils in overtime and had an assist against the Preds. Since March 4, no Cap has more points than Kuznetsov (eight, tied with Ovechkin and Niskanen), but his underlying numbers remain a concern - over that same span, he's the only Caps skater who has played more than two games and is in the red in five-on-five CF percentage and has the worst relative CF percentage on the club.
Brooks Laich With assists on both Chimera goals and a third helper for the week a day earlier, Laich has points in back-to-back games for only the fourth time this season. Those points represent a due reward for strong play - Laich had the team's second-best CF percentage on the week, second-best relative CF% among forwards, and a plus-10 differential over the three games (despite getting killed against Nashville). More of this, please.
Michael Latta Is Latta going to go the whole season without a goal? He's 47 games in without one, and the clock is ticking. (He did have good underlying numbers last week, for what it's worth.)
Alex Ovechkin Snapped a three-game goalless span (gasp!) with a couple of lamp-lighters against the Rangers. His possession stats, however, weren't particularly good (second-worst on the team, in fact), and that he was only able to generate one shot attempt at five-on-five against New York is problematic... and why this trial separation from Backstrom isn't likely to last.
Joel Ward Assisted on Ovechkin's first goal in New York, but that's about it for positives from Ward's week, which included the worst CF% and relative CF% on the team (and a negative Corsi plus/minus in each game) and being on-ice for a team-high four goals-against. So why is (was?) he on the top line?
Tom Wilson No Cap skater had a better CF% (73.6) or Corsi plus/minus (+25) than Wilson on the week, but unfortunately the scoresheet didn't reflect that strong play. Wilson continues to agitate - which is a good thing - but needs to be careful as he's starting to get a bit of a reputation and seeing calls go against him.

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

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