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Capital Ups and Downs, Week 19: Put Three More on the Board

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

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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

Goalies Trend Notes
Braden Holtby
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He added two more wins to his ever-increasing season total, but there continues to be something just slightly off with Holtby's game lately. Make no mistake, he's still making some huge saves - and that first period against the Devils Saturday night looks a lot worse if he doesn't do just that. Still, some of the short-side goals in both games were un-Holtby-esque, and his save percentage in the two games combined was even more so at just .891. Here's hoping it's just a bump in the road.
Philipp Grubauer The Caps have had a "next man up" mentality all season long - when someone struggles or gets injured, there's someone else ready to step up and fill in. This week, that next man was Philipp Grubauer, as he faced down 40 shots from the always-dangerous Kings and turned aside all but one, and was the main reason the Caps got even a point out of that game.
Karl Alzner
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Something of a rough week for the usually stalwart Alzner, as he was on for all three of the Devils' goals on Saturday night as well as the late game-tying tally in Brooklyn. More troubling than that is the fact that he saw 35 more shots go towards his own net than the opponents' at even strength, giving him an abysmal CF% of 28.
John Carlson There still seems to be something missing from his game since returning from injury a few weeks ago, but he was a little better this week, relatively speaking. He was on for more goals-for than goals-against, more even-strength shots-for than against, and picked up an assist (his third in the last five games). 100%? Not exactly, but there are at least some promising signs.
Taylor Chorney With the return of Orpik, Chorney resumes his spot in the pressbox as the odd man out on the blueline. That doesn't diminish any of the work he did while #44 was out of the lineup, though, and it was nice to see him get rewarded with a two-year extension earlier this week. Very well deserved, indeed.
Matt Niskanen
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Not quite as rough a run for Niskanen as for his defensive partner this week, but it still wasn't pretty - particularly against New Jersey, a game in which he (and the entire team) struggled to contain the Devils' second line.
Dmitry Orlov Orlov continues what has been a very strong season overall with an excellent week, despite the fact that he was paired up with a new defensive partner. Three points, no goals-against, and as many shots going towards opponents' nets as his own when he was on the ice? That'll do.
Brooks Orpik After missing the last three months or so with an injury, Orpik would have been forgiven if he'd struggled a bit in his return to the lineup. It's been anything but a struggle, though, as he's looked as good (if not better) this week as he had at any point prior to being injured. He capped it all off with a two-point performance against the Devils, which included his first-ever regular-season game-winning goal... and all you had to do was watch the reactions of his teammates to know how much that meant to every single one of them. Welcome back, Brooks.
Nate Schmidt He definitely needed to be a bit stronger on John Tavares when the Islanders' captain drove to the net for the game-opening tally on Thursday night. Other than that, though, just another solid week for the team's most cheerful player (even if he was one of just three Caps to not register a point this week).
Nicklas Backstrom Picked up an assist on the power play against the Islanders for his 20th extra-man helper of the season, which leads all NHL forwards (and trails only Erik Karlsson and P.K. Subban for the overall lead). Not much happening beyond that for Backstrom this week besides some rough possession numbers against both the Kings and the Devils.
Jay Beagle
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Sounds like he could be about a week away, which is excellent news... even if it means Barry Trotz is about to be faced with some very tough decisions.
Andre Burakovsky The recent line shuffling may not have been the best thing for Burakovsky short-term; he "only" had two points this week (both against the Kings and both with his usual linemates) and struggled a bit possession-wise. Still, he's skating with more confidence and swagger than ever before and that's a great thing for him and the team.
Jason Chimera Picked up the empty-netter against the Kings Tuesday night for his third goal in four games, and is now just four away from his career-high of 20 with 27 games to go.
Stanislav Galiev Have to think it's only going to get tougher for Galiev to get back into the lineup in the coming weeks, especially once Beagle returns.
Marcus Johansson
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Johansson's week ranged from decent to very, very ugly. He assisted on Chimera's empty-netter and put up some decent possession numbers overall, but it was his pass that got intercepted en route to the Kings' shorthanded tally on Tuesday, and his failed clearing attempt (and misplacement of the puck) that led to the late game-tying goal by the Islanders two nights later. That kind of stuff is going to happen, but it's a bit more painful to have it happen in back-to-back games.
Evgeny Kuznetsov What makes Kuznetsov so magical is that even on a bad night, he can do something that turns it into a good one in the blink of an eye. That was him against the Kings, as he potted the eventual game-winner after having what was really not his best outing. He did it again against the Islanders, pulling off his now-signature behind-the-net pass to set Ovechkin up for the easiest goal he'll ever score (as if he needs help there). All part of another ho hum, four-point week for the team's leading scorer.
Brooks Laich It seems as if Laich's been due for a point for roughly eleven billion years, so it was nice to see him get rewarded with an assist Saturday night - even if he only really got it for being the second-to-last guy to touch the puck before a goal. Good way to cap off a week in which he led all forwards with an even-strength CF% of 62.5%, as well (although we could do without the penalties in two straight games).
Michael Latta Kuznetsov's goal against the Devils over the weekend doesn't happen without a strong shift by Latta, who did the hard work to win the puck battle, get the puck around the net and then through traffic to #92. Just part of an all-around great game by Latta, and the fourth line in general, in the win over New Jersey.
T.J. Oshie Probably needed to play Anze Kopitar a little bit better on the LA forward's shorthanded goal Tuesday night, but it's important to remember two things: 1) Oshie's not a defenseman and 2) Kopitar is really stupidly good at hockey. Other than that, good to see him get off the schneid a bit with points in two straight games for the first time since the beginning of the month, as he picked up an assist on the power play against the Islanders and then got the luckiest of bounces for a goal against the Devils. They all count, right?
Alex Ovechkin Another three goals this week (and *gasp* an assist!), ten goals in his last seven games... yawn. Wake me when he gets to 50 again.
Mike Richards Richards has looked better almost every game since arriving in DC, and seems to be oh-so-close to picking up his first point as a Cap - just hasn't gotten the bounces. But points aren't everything, and between being tasked to take the big draws in big moments and the hefty penalty-killing load he's taken on, it's clear that he's earned the trust of his coach to do the little things well.
Justin Williams Many have tried, many have failed, but Williams was able to nail the Kuznetsov-esque pass from behind the net to the play's namesake to set up the game winner against the Kings. And all he did was follow that up with some strong work on the boards to set up the Caps' first goal two nights later in Brooklyn, and then get one of his own to down the Isles in overtime. Stud.
Tom Wilson
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Part of the added responsibility of getting penalty-killing time is not taking penalties, and Wilson's been better at that of late... but he slipped a little bit against the Kings, taking a stupid interference penalty (and getting into a fight because of it). He also joined Schmidt and Richards as the only Caps to be held off the scoresheet this week, and finished with an even-strength CF% of 45.5% on the week, second-lowest among Caps' forwards.

Stats via and Hockey Analysis.