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Capital Ups and Downs, Week 4: Home-and-Home Sweet Home

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

Florida Panthers v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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

Forward Line Trend Notes
Alex Ovechkin
The top line went through a couple of different incarnations this week, but the most successful one seems to be the one that finished out the week - which isn't all that surprising, considering how much success this trio had most of last season. Ovechkin and Oshie led the scoring for the week, with each picking up three goals (including one game winner apiece), while Backstrom added four points in his own right. That's enough to make us ignore a lousy possession week across the board (largely due to some rough games against the Jets).
Nicklas Backstrom
T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson
Two-thirds of this new-look line has spent much of the young season struggling, so it makes perfect sense - in theory, at least - to put those two players with the red-hot Marcus Johansson. As to whether it worked (or will work), it's too soon to tell, but their first outing was something of a mixed bag. They finished their first game against Florida with no points but all above 50% in even-strength CF, but Kuznetsov also ended up spending some of that game on the fourth line. Not ideal.
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Justin Williams
Andre Burakovsky
The only other line besides the top line to put up any points on Saturday night, Burakovsky, Eller and Wilson combined for some strong shifts, some positive possession numbers and the fourth goal of the night. In fact, Burakovsky finished with an even-strength CF% of 66.67%, tops among all forwards, and none of the three were lower than 55%.
Lars Eller
Tom Wilson
Zach Sanford
Beagle's late game-winning goal in Winnipeg was the only offense to speak of from the fourth line this week, but it was a pretty important piece of scoring for the team. That aside, the four members of the fourth line were on for roughly the same amount of even-strength scoring chances for as against (and in Winnik's case, that was zero in both directions). Not a great week for them possesion-wise, though, as none of the four cracked 50% in ES CF.
Jay Beagle
Daniel Winnik /
Brett Connolly
Defensive Pair Trend Notes
Matt Niskanen
If you thought it was crazy that Alzner was the first Caps defenseman with a goal this season, you'd probably agree that it's even crazier that he's added to that total (with a goal against the Jets this week) and the rest of the blueline still hasn't found the back of the net. That offensive explosion aside, it was something of an up-and-down week for the team's top D pair, with Alzner on for ten scoring chances at even strength - seven of which were taken by the other team - and Niskanen at 50%, five for and five against.
Karl Alzner
John Carlson
One of Carlson and Orlov's strengths has been in posting impressive CF numbers, but they dipped a bit this week (no doubt in large part to a couple of lopsided contests against the Jets), with Carlson dropping below 50%. They also were pretty close to 50% when it came to scoring chances, and those chances made up roughly a fifth of their total shot attempts against. That's the not so great... but on the flip side, Carlson finished the week with four assists, tied for second in points among all Caps this week and among all NHL defensemen.
Dmitry Orlov
Brooks Orpik
Another strong week for this duo, as Schmidt and Orpik have really started to take to their partnership nicely. Their best game of the week was against the Panthers, when they combined for three points and two of the top three CF percentages at even strength. More importantly, they were limiting the scoring chances by their opponents, as neither was on for more than five total (although they did get dinged for a couple of goals against).
Nate Schmidt
Goalie Trend Notes
Braden Holtby UP Holtby still seems a few steps away from his best performances of last season, but he looked more like his old self in three games this week - one of which was easily his best of the season, despite the comeback, when he stopped 43 of 45 shots in Winnipeg. All told, he turned aside 89 of 96 shots total for a save percentage of .927 (.947 at even strength), which is pretty great.
Philipp Grubauer EVEN No work for Grubauer this week, but expect to see him back in net soon.
Situational Trend Notes
Even Strength EVEN The final game of their road trip was probably the worst even-strength performance of the season to date, but they did much better in the rematch against the Jets and were fairly dominant by the time the Panthers came to town. And looking at pure results, the Caps outscored opponents 10 to six at evens.
Power Play DOWN One for 12. 8.3%. That's just...mystifying.
Penalty Kill UP On the flip side, seven for eight on the penalty kill is right about where the team needs to be (as is keeping the penalties down to less than three per game).
Stats from,,, Hockey-Reference, and