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Capital Ups and Downs, Week 22: Know Ovechkin, Know Wins; No Ovechkin, No Wins

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

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Braden Holtby Was every bit as good as he needed to be to give the Caps a chance to win each of the three games last week, but ended up with a 2-1-0/2.02/.922 line after surrendering a couple of third period goals to Minnesota in a rare blown-lead regulation loss.
Justin Peters Hasn't played since the night after Valentine's Day, and likely won't see action again until the beginning of next week when the Caps host Boston and then travel to Buffalo on back-to-back days. And if Peters can't get in on the road against the Sabres on the back-end of back-to-backs...
Karl Alzner Posted +5 and +9 shot-attempt differentials when he was on the ice for the week's last two games, breaking a string of eight-straight games without a positive differential (a span over which he was minus-30), so that's certainly a step back in the right direction for Alzner, who's struggled a bit in terms of possession since the All-Star break.
John Carlson Carlson's point total continues to climb, thanks now to top-unit power-play time that yielded a pair of helpers last week and gives him eight points in his last ten games. The Caps' top blueliner had a rough night against Minny (his Corsi +/- was an ugly minus-14), but was solid against the two terrible teams he faced (including a plus-21 night against Buffalo).
John Erskine QMI ran a nice piece on Erskine and his (slow) recovery from neck surgery... but let's pump the brakes on stuff like "he remains a crucial piece of the team’s makeup, as integral, it can be argued, as superstar Alex Ovechkin" and "[h]e’s the guy who can put Washington over the top."
Tim Gleason Picked up his first point as a Cap with an assist against the Jackets, but posted the worst relative Corsi-For percentage among the team's blueliners on the week... which may well be a trend going forward. Meanwhile, Nate Schmidt is back and playing full-time for Hershey. Just sayin'.
Mike Green Notched two assists against the Sabres (his first points in eight games) while posting decent underlying numbers. Two thoughts: first, you kept Mike Green through the trade deadline, use him on the top power-play where you can maximize the return on that investment; second, playing alongside Gleason, Green likely won't be the possession-driving machine he has been with Schmidt or Dmitry Orlov, but The Big Mistakes may be less frequent. Then again... this.
Matt Niskanen Posted the best relative CF% of any Caps blueliner last week and assisted on the team's only goal against the Wild. The Caps are going nowhere fast if their second pair isn't good, so getting Niskanen and Alzner back on track is critically important to their fortunes.
Dmitry Orlov Has been skating with the team, but it's anyone's guess as to if and when Orlov might be made available to Barry Trotz this season, to say nothing of how effective he might be, having not played in a year.
Brooks Orpik Assisted on the first goal of the week and then had one of the more dramatic two-game swings you'll see in terms of five-on-five Corsi plus/minus, going from minus-16 against Minnesota to plus-24 against Buffalo. Orpik has generally been quite good for more than a month now, but he's gotta be good against good teams... because the Blue Jackets and Sabres of the League aren't going to be around come playoff time.
Nicklas Backstrom A pair of helpers in each of the week's first and last games has Backstrom tied with Michal Pivonka for first on the franchise's all-time assist ledger, and it looks as if he'll break that mark this week and never look back (as it should be). Backstrom had a better week than his previous week (on-ice for four Caps goals and none against), but clearly missed his usual running mate on Thursday night, when the top line was only able to muster eight five-on-five shot attempts (two of which were his).
Jay Beagle Beagle assumed the second-line center slot for the last two games and the results weren't as bad as one might expect (or would expect going forward), with good possession numbers and his tenth goal and ninth assist on Saturday night. Beagle led the team in even-strength points with three for the week and had the second-best relative CF% of any Cap who played all three games.
Troy Brouwer No Cap skater was on the ice for more Caps goals last week than Brouwer, who was on for five of the team's 12 tallies (though he only picked up a single point - an assist - on those markers). Brouwer had the team's best relative CF% (among those who played more than one game) and has a string of five-straight games in which his relative CF% has been positive.
Andre Burakovsky
Hershey Kiss Icon
Recalled on an emergency basis when Alex Ovechkin missed Thursday night's game and returned to Hershey when Ovi was ready to play on Saturday night, Burakovsky's possession numbers weren't good against Minnesota and he only attempted one shot while skating with fellow Swedes Backstrom and Marcus Johansson... which runs somewhat contrary to what appeared to be a pretty dangerous trio all night.
Jason Chimera Had his third two-point game in a month (and second in four games) with a pair of helpers against Columbus, and dropped the gloves in that game and again against Buffalo. It's almost as if Chimera knows that his spot in the lineup isn't to be taken for granted at this point... though defense (if you can call it that) like this certainly doesn't help his cause.
Eric Fehr A goal against the Jackets gave Fehr five points in six games, and his line looked alright against the Wild before Fehr ended the week as the only Cap with a negative Corsi +/- against the Sabres. And here's a fun fact: Fehr hasn't won less than 50% of his draws in any of the last 11 games (and that's with taking a minimum of eight face-offs in each game).
Curtis Glencross After an unimpressive Caps debut, "GlennX" has goals in each of his last two games and added two assists against Buffalo. Not a bad start.
Marcus Johansson Scored against the Jackets and Sabres and rang iron twice against the Wild. As importantly, Johansson is shooting the puck (nine five-on-five attempts and seven on-goal in the last two games), which is exactly what he needs to do to be successful... and to keep building on his career-high 17 goals.
Evgeny Kuznetsov Dropped to the fourth line, Kuznetsov broke a nine-game pointless drought with an assist on the lone goal in the Minny game but hasn't scored one himself in 15 games. The Caps didn't address their need for a second scoring-line center at the deadline, so there's pressure on Kuznetsov to get it together over the last month of the season... because Jay Beagle certainly isn't the answer.
Brooks Laich Snapped a 26-game goalless streak with one against the Sabres, but was the Caps' worst player in terms of relative CF% this week and has been on the wrong side of zero in that metric for six-straight outings. Any sort of return-to-form from Laich would be a huge boost to the Caps' depth up front, but who knows if that'll happen.
Michael Latta Hurt his shoulder courtesy of a questionable hit by the Jackets' Jared Boll, but it doesn't sound as if the injury is too bad. How a healthy Latta fits into this lineup right now is another question.
Alex Ovechkin Scored twice in Columbus and then missed the Minnesota game with a mysterious injury before returning to the lineup to drop a goal and an assist on Buffalo, running his multi-point game streak to three (5G, 2A). He's really, really good.
Joel Ward Us on Ward, last week: 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.

Ward, this week: No goals, no goals, one goal. #science
Tom Wilson Had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick... on the week, with a goal and a fight (and an instigator and a misconduct in defense of Latta) in C'bus and an assist against Buffalo. We'll take it.

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

Usage 3.7

And if we exclude that Buffalo game...

Usage 3.7b