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Capital Ups and Downs: Trending Towards the Postseason

A look at individual Washington Capitals ups and downs as they head into the playoffs

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Your look at individual Washington Capitals' ups and downs heading into the postseason:

Goalies Trend Notes
Braden Holtby Holtby's been a bit up and down over the last ten games, facing 268 shots and turning aside 245 of them for a slightly sub-par (at least where #70 is concerned) .914 save percentage. The numbers look slightly better at even strength, where he posted .924, but overall he hasn't finished the season as strong as one might have hoped. That said... Holtby thrives on big moments, and they don't get bigger than the playoffs. He'll be fine.
Justin Peters Finished the season with disappointing numbers across the board, but was solid in his final three appearances and gave up just one goal in his last two (both relief appearances, which together equal roughly a full game). Needless to say, if we're seeing him in the playoffs, the team has some big problems, so it probably doesn't matter how he's played down the stretch - but hey, thanks for the work, Petey.
Karl Alzner Over the last ten games, only John Carlson has a better Corsi-for per 60 rate among Caps' defensemen, which... is surprising, and yet not really, as Alzner has really gotten involved in the offensive side of things this season. But as much as he's been involved in getting shots on net, his own offense (such as it is) has dried up a bit, with just two points in that ten-game span - the results of a multi-point effort against the Devils back on March 26.
John Carlson Carlson has racked up eight points in his last ten games, including picking up the eventual game-winner against the Bruins - his first goal since March 15. Four of those eight points were at even strength, an area in which he's thrived all season (despite running the Caps' #1 power-play unit); his 38 even-strength points were just one shy of the League-lead among defensemen, trailing only P.K. Subban.
John Erskine Best wishes and happy trails, Big John.
Tim Gleason Of the Caps' six main defensemen, only Gleason checked in with a CF% below 50% over the last ten games - but he's not going to be the guy generating the offense (and he didn't, with just one assist over that span), and the Caps gave up just three goals while he was on the ice. He also made Tanner Glass bleed his own blood in the team's final game of the regular season... if you're into that kind of thing.
Mike Green Fun fact: only six defensemen in the League have more even-strength points since March 21 than Green, who put up five over that span. Funner fact: four of those were goals, tied with Montreal's Jeff Petry for the League lead. He was also on for a whopping 71 scoring chances by the Caps over the last ten games, besting his blueline mates by a wide margin. He's heating up, and exactly at the right time.
Matt Niskanen Also heating up? Matt Niskanen, who has ten points in his last 12 games - roughly a third of his offensive output for the season - and has seen his underlying numbers roll in the right direction, with a CF% below 50% in just three of the last ten games (although he was on the ice for more even-strength goals then any other Caps' blueliner, with eight). The best news is that Niskanen really likes to play against the Islanders - he's got 11 points in 19 career games against them, the most he's put up against any team, with five of them this season (including three in one game).
Dmitry Orlov The most important trend for Orlov is a move towards better health... but will he get to see any postseason action? Time will tell, but against a speedy Islanders team, it might be nice.
Brooks Orpik Picked up three assists in the last ten games, giving him the second-highest assist total of his career... but let's be honest, that's not why he's here. Orpik's been solid in his own end over the last ten games, and was on for only five goals-against during that span (and six goals-for). And yes, hits in general usually mean you don't have the puck (and tend to be subjective and skewed from arena to arena), but the fact that Orpik's racked up an insane 48 is a reminder that he's part of why this team is going to be tough to play against in a seven-game series.
Nicklas Backstrom His six points in the last ten games are among the most by any Cap over that span... and yet it's not quite where we expect Backstrom to be. The career point-per-game player hasn't quite had the impact on the team's new-look second line as one would have hoped, and his on-ice scoring chance percentage has taken a hit (which will happen when you're not playing with a guy who finished with just shy of 400 shots on net). With Backstrom, though, it's not about the trend - the one thing his illustrious career is missing is a consistent, productive playoff presence. There's no reason to think he won't bring it this year; make it happen, Nick.
Jay Beagle After sitting out the better part of a month to wrap up the regular season, it sounds like he's on the mend - he's not the one who drives the team, of course, but depth is good. And coming off of a career year, it'll be interesting to see what he's capable of doing on a bigger stage.
Troy Brouwer His numbers on paper look good over the last ten games, with improved possession stats and seven points - five of them at even strength, surprisingly enough - since March 21. As a result, Brouwer cracked the 20-goal mark for the third time in his career, one of three Caps to do so, and thanks to his improved play of late (and that of his linemate, Kuznetsov), he's seen his ice time tick up in recent weeks. Now the key will be keeping it rolling into the postseason, where he hasn't really stood out in the past, in DC or elsewhere.
Andre Burakovsky Hasn't been back long enough to really trend, but for now, it seems like he's sticking around for at least some of the postseason run. Unsurprisingly, he has been very good in the three games in which he's appeared since returning from the Bears last week. No points during that admittedly small sample, but made up part of a pretty impressive fourth-line trio alongside Latta and Galiev. Should Barry Trotz decide to a) keep him around and b) reunite Backstrom and Ovechkin, it might be nice to see him back up on that top line for the playoffs.
Jason Chimera
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Picked up three points in the last ten games, which still wasn't enough to prevent him from having his worst offensive season in over a decade. And while he did manage to create some offense over that last stretch, he also had the worst CF% at even strength of any Cap - just more of the same in a season to forget for Chimera... but hey, no minor penalties down the stretch, either. Bonus?
Eric Fehr Missed the last few games of the season with an upper-body injury, but prior to that he'd started to find his offense again after a lengthy drought, with four points in six games (albeit just one goal).
Curtis Glencross
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Shockingly enough, the breakneck scoring pace Glencross had been on to start his tenure in DC wasn't sustainable, and he finished the season with just a single assist in his last ten games. But he was on the ice for as many goals-for as goals-against, which is about what you want from a guy like Glencross (even if the shot attempts-against weren't). Weird stat time: since joining the Caps, he's faced the Rangers three times, and put up a Corsi-for percentage of at least 60% in each of those meetings.
Marcus Johansson Johansson capped off a career year with eight points in his final ten games, including a goal against Boston to give him his first 20-goal season (and a new career-high in points, edging out his previous high by a single point). And over that final stretch of the regular season, only Backstrom was on the ice for more shot attempts at even strength. All good signs for MoJo heading into the playoffs.
Evgeny Kuznetsov Since the beginning of March (19 games), only Ovechkin and Backstrom have more points than Kuznetsov's 13 - which is some pretty good company, to be sure. It's been a long season of adjustment for Kuznetsov, but he's recently found his stride and it's starting to show up on the scoreboard. As a result, he's been rewarded with the job of centering Alex Ovechkin (albeit with somewhat mixed results... shoot the puck, Kuz!).
Brooks Laich
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Towards the end of March, it looked as if Laich had finally rediscovered his offense, picking up four points in the final three games of the month. Since? Nada. Zip. Zilch. And no forward has a lower CF% in all situations then Laich's 40.41% over the last ten games. Of course, that includes a healthy dose of penalty-killing time - but even that wasn't great to wrap up the season (a crazy Laich-ian shot-blocking clinic in the Rangers game aside), with the team giving up five power-play goals in 16 chances to finish the campaign.
Michael Latta Latta played a big role in helping the Caps ice a highly effective fourth line over the final stretch of the season, regardless of who else was on the line with him. In fact, no forward who appeared in all ten of those games posted a higher CF% at even strength... which is why it's kind of disappointing that Latta wasn't able to get himself off of this list. Saving it for the playoffs, right?
Alex Ovechkin It's important to preface this with the disclaimer that, yes, Ovechkin had himself a dominant season - one which he wrapped up with his 53rd goal of the season, a typical shot from the Ovi-spot. And he did put up eight points in the final ten games, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at. But the underlying numbers, the possession stats in which he's excelled all season, suffered a bit down the stretch. No doubt some of this can be attributed to not having Backstrom on his line for some of that; if Backstrom's offense suffers from not being with the Great 8, Ovechkin's defensive play suffers from not having Backstrom as his pivot. Of course, if there's one player that we don't need to worry about come playoff time... it's this guy.
Joel Ward Went on a bit of a scoring spree after getting promoted to top-line duty alongside Ovechkin, but the offense dried up over the last handful of games - and like Ovechkin, Ward struggled with possession over that stretch, as well. The fact is, as successful as that line was initially, Ward probably (probably?) shouldn't be getting top-line minutes - especially once the playoffs roll around.
Tom Wilson Until taking a slapper to the side of the head, Wilson was playing some very good hockey - to the point that he led all Caps in both Corsi-for and Fenwick-for at even strength, and by a healthy margin. If he can get back into the lineup (and all signs point to him being on the mend), his physicality and ability to play first-line or fourth-line minutes make him an asset for the Caps... to say nothing of his ability to get under the other team's skin.

Advanced stats and five-on-five usage chart over the last ten games of the season (below) via

Caps usage last 10