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Capital Ups and Downs, Week 17: Grinding Out the Wins

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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 After a nice long layoff and a trip to the All-Star Game, Holtby returned to action on Thursday and picked up right where he left off. He shut the door after two goals in each of his three games, turning aside 79 of the 85 shots he faced and playing a big part in some wins the team otherwise likely wouldn't have gotten. Same old, same old.
Philipp Grubauer
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He's been really good in relief of Holtby so far this season, but Grubauer's one game this week was a rough outing for him. He gave up four goals - including at least a couple he should have had - on just 18 shots to the Panthers (with the fifth goal of the night going into the empty net). Chalk it up to rust?
Karl Alzner Was one of just five Caps to dip below 50% in even-strength CF%, and took a couple of penalties against the Flyers yesterday (although one could argue that at least one of the calls was questionable) to go with his two assists. He's now just one point shy of 100 in his career, which is pretty impressive.
John Carlson
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His return to active duty hasn't been exactly smooth (which is probably to be expected), as he was on for five of the ten goals given up by the Caps this week. He's also mired in a five-game pointless streak - albeit a streak that started before his injury - which is the second streak of at least five games without a point this season.
Taylor Chorney
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Posted a team-low CF% of 46.3 at even strength, and the fact that he was on for just two goals against is probably more a product of good goaltending, and minimal ice time, than anything he was necessarily doing. Chorney's been consistently steady overall, but this wasn't a great week for him.
Matt Niskanen On for six more high-danger scoring chances by the Caps than against at even strength, and only Alex Ovechkin had more shot attempts at even strength this week than Niskanen. That paid off in the form of an assist against the Devils, and then against the Flyers, he... well, just watch for yourselves. Did you know he could do that? We didn't know he could do that.
Dmitry Orlov Niskanen wasn't the only one to score a pretty goal against the Flyers, as Orlov showed off those hands and that shot with a snipe over Steve Mason's shoulder Sunday afternoon. He also added an assist against the Islanders, and has six points in his last 13 games.
Brooks Orpik
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Might Orpik be inching ever closer to a return?
Nate Schmidt No defenseman had a better CF% (57.4) or was on for more high-danger scoring chances for the Caps at even strength than Schmidt... and yet no points on the week, and he was on for four goals-against.
Nicklas Backstrom His goal against the Panthers proved to be just a sidenote in an ultimately futile comeback attempt, but he added a couple of sweet assists against the Islanders (his 106th career multi-assist game, no big deal) before being held off the scoresheet the next two games.
Jay Beagle
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Might Beagle be inching ever closer to a return??
Paul Carey His first tour of duty with the Caps wasn't all that memorable (at least not for good reasons); his second one was much better, as he helped the fourth line put together some very good shifts. The best shift? The one where he deflected a shot from the point to pick up his first NHL goal - not bad for the 27-year-old "rookie".
Andre Burakovsky No one is hotter right now than Burakovsky, who has found his confidence, and with it his scoring ability. He saw his five-game goal-scoring streak snapped against the Flyers, but picked up an assist to keep the point streak alive at a career-high seven games. He also tied Kuznetsov with the team-lead in points this week, and now has 13 points in his last 10 games.
Jason Chimera Relatively quiet week for Chimera, as he assisted on a goal against the Islanders Thursday night but didn't do much else on the scoresheet. Nothing to worry about, though, as he's done fine in the possession department (with the exception of that Islanders game, when he got creamed at even strength).
Stanislav Galiev His one game this week was one in which he had the unenviable task of trying to fill Ovechkin's shoes against the Panthers. While he didn't come close to doing so (because really, who could?), he made the most of his brief time on the top line with a couple of scoring chances, saw more shots go towards Florida's net than his own, and wasn't on for any goals.
Marcus Johansson
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Might Johansson be inching ev-... okay, you get the point. Sounds like at least a few of the team's walking wounded are slowly returning to health. The team (and the power play in particular) miss you, Marcus.
Evgeny Kuznetsov His only goal in the past two weeks was scored in the All-Star Game, but that doesn't mean he's stopped producing altogether. Kuznetsov picked up four assists this week, tying linemate Burakovsky for the team lead, and continues to put up points at an insane pace.
Brooks Laich Was on for two goals against this week, but maintained a positive even-strength CF% and had five even-strength scoring chances for himself. And, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, picked up his first point in over a month against the Devils.
Michael Latta Nothing to show for it on the scoresheet, but Latta had a nice week for himself (part of a pretty decent run for the fourth line overall) with a team-leading 64.1% CF at even strength.
T.J. Oshie His 15 scoring chances (in all situations) tied Burakovsky for the most on the team this week. That helped Oshie put up three points in the week's four games, as he continues to roll right along - although he probably won't be replacing Ovechkin on the power play anytime soon.
Alex Ovechkin The team may be more balanced and less dependent on Ovechkin than it's ever been, but that doesn't mean he's not still needed... as evidenced by the fact that both games he's missed this season have been among the worst for the Caps. He still seems to be nursing whatever kept him out of the All-Star Game, but it didn't stop him from potting two goals and hitting the 30-goal plateau for the 11th straight time in his career.
Mike Richards
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Richards struggled a bit in terms of possession this week, and his usually-stellar penalty killing took a hit with a couple of power-play goals against. The numbers don't tell the whole story for Richards, though, as he's definitely a smart player and is likely still adjusting from the long layoff and to new linemates.
Zach Sill
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He arrived, he played less than seven minutes for an injury- and suspension-shortened squad, then headed back to Hershey before his waiver eligibility kicked in.
Justin Williams It was his point shot that deflected in off of Burakovsky to open the scoring against the Devils, but that assist just about wrapped it up for the offensive side of Williams' game this week. Still strong on the possession side of things (unsurprisingly, and in spite of one rough run against the Islanders on Thursday).
Tom Wilson Was on the ice for a rare power-play goal against this week, and saw his possession numbers slide a bit, but that was mostly the result of a horrific 18.18% CF at even strength against the Islanders - a team low.

Stats via and Hockey Analysis.