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Capital Ups and Downs, Week 26: Clutch Clinching

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

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Braden Holtby Picked up his 100th career regular-season win and 40th of the season in his franchise-record 23rd-straight start and 71st appearance of the season Sunday in Detroit, capping a 3-0-1/2.66/.905 week. The wins are great, but Holtby's peripheral numbers have slipped just a bit to "mere mortal" - after a 21-9-6/2.10/.929 December-through-February, Holtby's gone 11-4-1/2.38/.918 since. But he'll be 0-0-0/0.00/.000 come this time next week.
Justin Peters Depending on how the week plays out elsewhere, Peters could be in line for a start in one of the Caps' last two games... but don't bet on it.
Karl Alzner No Caps skater was on the ice for more goals-against than the seven for which Alzner and partner Matt Niskanen were victimized (four at five-on-five, two at four-on-five and one at three-on-five)... but that number would've been eight if not for Alzner's remarkable game-saving shot-block at the end of the Wings game. Couple that with decent possession numbers (in the toughest minutes of any pair) and it all adds up to an even week.
John Carlson Picked up a trio of power-play helpers against the Habs and added another two at even-strength against the Sens (and four of those five were primaries - nothing new for Caps defenders). Carlson was also dead-even in five-on-five shot attempts and only on the ice for two goals-against (one at five-a-side, one at four-on-four) in just over 94 minutes of work. That'll do.
John Erskine Nowhere close to a return, so just watch this for fun.
Tim Gleason Gleason had the easiest five-on-five minutes of any Caps defender last week and posted the best relative Corsi-For percentage. He also picked up a nice primary assist on the game-winner in Detroit (his second point as a Cap) and posted a plus-three rating against his former team on Tuesday, so all-in-all a good week for the Caps' sixth rearguard.
Mike Green With even-strength goals in three of the week's four games (and four in the last six) and assists in two others, as well as shot-attempt numbers on the right side of 50%, Green had a strong week that bodes well for the weeks ahead. In fact, Green and Gleason were on the ice for five of the nine five-on-five goals the Caps scored last week and just one against, and have been on for 11 Caps tallies at fives and just three-against overall since being paired up after the deadline.
Matt Niskanen Had a four-game assist streak snapped in Montreal, but might have started a new one Sunday in Detroit. Like Carlson, Niskanen had an even split on five-on-five shot attempts, but unlike Carlson (and like Alzner), Niskanen saw seven of those shots-against find the back of the Caps' net (four at even-strength). Eh, it happens.
Dmitry Orlov Travelling with the team but not yet activated from IR, Orlov should probably get a game or two here before the playoffs.
Brooks Orpik
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Added another assist to his best-in-five-years total, but had a couple of rough games in terms of possession (Montreal and Detroit) and took penalties in three of his four outings. Orpik, though, is definitely high on the list of Caps who will be judged less on these first 82 games and more on what comes next.
Nicklas Backstrom Backstrom helped (helped?) drive his line to taking nearly 60% of the shots attempted at five-on-five for the week, won 56% of his draws, and chipped in with solid penalty killing, but has had little to show for these strong efforts of late, racking up just two assists last week (one on the power-play) and failing to score in 21-straight games. It's almost as if Troy Brouwer isn't Alex Ovechkin after all...
Jay Beagle With Eric Fehr nursing an injury and Tom Wilson now likely shelved, the Caps could use Beagle back in the bottom-six... but it doesn't seem imminent.
Troy Brouwer Helped secure a point in Ottawa with a late third-period goal after picking up an assist a few minutes earlier and posting strong possession numbers, and got the shootout winner in Montreal. One goal and one assist every four games is pretty much what we expect from Brouwer at this point, but the shot-attempt numbers and impact of what he did that showed up on the scoresheet bumps him up a bit for the week.
Andre Burakovsky Recalled in the wake of the Fehr injury, Burakovsky played his fourth game in five nights on Sunday and provided the fourth line with quite a spark, as he was on the ice for ten Caps shot attempts and only four against in 6:06 of five-on-five ice time. Burakovsky should be around to stay at this point; the only question is how much ice time he'll see.
Jason Chimera
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Had a pretty set-up on Brooks Laich's game-winner over the 'Canes, but was silent the rest of the week while getting fairly beat-down in possession and notching just one shot on goal in the four games. That might be okay for fourth-liner Chimera... but if he's going to stick in the top-nine, the Caps will need more.
Eric Fehr Losing the versatile Fehr for any length of time would be a significant blow to the Caps, but it doesn't sound as if this injury is too serious and hopefully a little time off now will have F-16 ready to go come playoff time.
Curtis Glencross
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Goalless in nine and on the wrong side of the possession stats too often lately, Glencross seems to be cemented in the bottom-six... which probably isn't what the Caps had envisioned when they gave up a second- and a third-round pick for him.
Marcus Johansson Got the comeback rollin' in Ottawa and posted the best shot-attempt numbers of any Cap who played more than one game on the week, with Washington taking more than 60% of the five-on-five shots while Johansson was on the ice. When Johansson and Backstrom are on the ice together at fives this season, the Caps have taken 55.9% of the shot attempts, but just 40% of the goals. That's not supposed to happen, but it's a trend that has persisted over larger samples.
Evgeny Kuznetsov Centering Alex Ovechkin, Kuznetsov had four points in four games last week (two at five-on-five) and was on for four five-on-five goals, the most of any forward (and just one -against). But his shot-attempt numbers are worrisome - 47.1% with Ovechkin - even as goal percentages tip in their favor (sorta the anti-Backstrom/Johansson). Sustainable? Guess we'll see.
Brooks Laich
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Had the game-winner against the 'Canes but that's it for the positives, as Laich brought up the rear in CF% (39.6) and Relative CF%, and was on the ice for five goals-against (three at fives), the most of any forward.
Michael Latta He's played better than this stat would indicate, but just two games stand between Latta and a goalless season, which would be... something. Since the 2004-05 lockout, only six forwards have played 50 games, skated 400 minutes and not scored once. Latta would be number seven.
Alex Ovechkin Scored his 50th goal of the season on Tuesday, unleashing an avalanche of "wow, this guy might actually be pretty good" coverage near and far, then took his rightful place atop the Capitals' all-time goal-scoring list with a pair of goals Thursday. Ovechkin's possession numbers weren't good for the week, but he's pumped at least four shots on net in six-straight and has five or more five-on-five shot attempts in four-straight, so hopefully his linemates can chip in a bit more in that respect.
Joel Ward Snapped a nine-game goalless streak with one against Carolina and then two against Montreal (top-line livin' ain't bad, eh?), but Ward is more of a stopgap than a solution at first-line right-wing.
Tom Wilson Horrifyingly took a slapper right to the side of his head in a valiant (albeit unwise) attempt to block a shot late against Detroit. Wilson was having a(nother) strong game at that point, and would be a decent-sized loss for the Caps if he's out for more than a game or two.

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