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Capital Ups and Downs, Week 21: Three in Four, Three of Four

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 Had a better outing against the Penguins Tuesday night, but was inconsistent - and uncharacteristically sloppy with his puckhandling - during the Ranger game. His prolonged slump has brought his numbers back down to career average, which probably should have been expected, and it's possible that he's just getting the "bad" games out of his system now and will rebound in time for the playoffs... but at what point do we start to worry?
Philipp Grubauer Another stellar week for Grubauer, who was a big reason why the Caps survived a parade to the penalty box in Boston (along with a little bit of luck). We're still nowhere near goalie controversy territory, but it is comforting to know that he's able to carry the load while Holtby sorts out his play.
Karl Alzner On for more shots-for than shots-against at even strength, on for the same number of goals-against (one) as goals-for at even strength, and did some nice work to pick up the game-tying goal against the Bruins Saturday night. Because when you think Alzner, you think "battles in the corner and then goes to the front of the net for the tip-in goal"... right?
John Carlson
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The team is treading water without him (and even if they weren't, they've got a healthy-enough cushion that it wouldn't matter) - best for him to get as close to 100% as possible before the postseason.
Taylor Chorney Picked up his first goal of the season (and as a Capital), and brought his career goal total up to two, with the opening tally against the Leafs. Pretty nice shot for a guy not all that familiar with the ways of goal-scoring, too. Dad strength!
Matt Niskanen His possession stats dipped a little below 50% for the week at even strength, but with the added minutes and responsibility that go with replacing Carlson's minutes, that's not all that surprising. For Niskanen, the week boiled down to two things: awesome penalty killing and timely, game-winning goals. He skated over six minutes shorthanded in the Bruins game alone, and scored two game-winners (against the Leafs and Bruins), assisting on the third one against the Penguins. There may not be a stat for clutch, but it's hard to deny that he's been exactly that this week.
Dmitry Orlov
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Continues to be an adventure at both ends of the ice, which is to be expected... if not a little scary when he's given a bit more ice time. His low point on the week was probably the Penguins game, a game in which he picked up a couple of minor penalties and was on for the opening goal by Malkin (a play that he'd probably want to be a little more decisive on next time around... although granted, that's a pretty good player he went up against).
Brooks Orpik Finished the week with one of the best Corsi differentials at even strength (+19) on the team, and the best differential among all Caps defensemen. But no points? What's up with that, goal-scorer?
Nate Schmidt Picked up an assist against Pittsburgh, albeit one that was basically his point shot bouncing off of Evgeni Malkin, then missed a couple of games with a lower-body injury before returning for a solid outing against the Bruins Saturday night.
Mike Weber Made his Caps' debut against his hometown team on Tuesday and earned some high praise from his coach for his performance, than added appearances against the Leafs and Rangers. Get this - in two of his three games this week, he tied for the team lead in shots on goal, registering seven shots combined against the Rangers and Leafs.
Nicklas Backstrom Had a rough outing against the Rangers, but picked up points in each of the three games this week and capped it off with a ridiculous pass to Alzner for the game-tying goal on Saturday. Even with his four points total this week, he and the rest of the top line haven't looked themselves lately - but it's tough to worry too much about that trio. Because most of the time, even when they're "off", they're on.
Jay Beagle Scored what was probably the most bizarre goal of his career in a net-front scrum against the Rangers, a goal that was first reviewed, then challenged, but upheld both times. Add in the fact that he (and the rest of his line) dominated in even-strength possession, and it's been a strong return to the lineup for Beagle.
Andre Burakovsky His two assists on the week were wildly different, but both important. His first, which set up the game-tying goal against the Penguins, was earned by making a strong zone entry and starting the play around the net. The second, in overtime in Boston, was a savvy play to shift the overtime trio around and get Niskanen's hot hands in position for the eventual game-winner. Two very smart plays by a kid who is just oozing with confidence.
Jason Chimera
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No points, a couple of penalties and some pretty rough possession numbers at even strength make for a less-than-stellar week for Chimera.
Stanislav Galiev Galiev has generally been able to at least put together some good underlying stats in his minimal appearances this year, but in the less than eight minutes he saw against the Pens, that wasn't quite the case. Twice as many shots went towards his own net while he was on the ice, all at even strength - small sample size, though, so take that with a grain of salt.
Marcus Johansson Picked up a secondary assist on the overtime winner in Boston, but otherwise a quiet week for Johansson.
Evgeny Kuznetsov His assist on Chorney's goal Wednesday night was a rare secondary assist, but his goal the night before to bring the Caps even with the Pens was his usual magical fare. Just keeps chugging along, even with a slight dip in production for him and the second line in general.
Michael Latta Four games on the week, not a one for Latta. Given the way the fourth line has clicked, it might be a little while before he gets back in the lineup.
T.J. Oshie Tipped the eventual game-winner past Pittsburgh's Matt Murray, a play which was immediately preceded by a diving effort to keep the puck in the zone, then picked up his first three-assist game as a Cap (and just the fifth in his career) against the Leafs. He rounded out his week with a gorgeous unassisted goal against the Rangers Friday night, and finished with a team-leading five points in this tough stretch of games.
Alex Ovechkin Scored a typical Ovi-spot goal against the Leafs and added a helper on Alzner's goal (as well as a boarding call that got ramped up to a major penalty) Saturday night. All of that excitement aside, something's been a little off with Ovechkin's game lately; here's hoping he's just conserving energy for the games that matter.
Mike Richards Almost had his second goal as a Cap before Wilson stole it away, but at least he got an assist on it. More importantly, Richards has really clicked with his new linemates, Winnik and Beagle, and that trio has been the most noticeable (and often the most effective) of any Caps line this week.
Justin Williams His drive to the net helped set up Kuznetsov's goal against the Penguins, giving him an assist in what even he described as an otherwise bad game for himself. Really not the best of weeks for him overall, although his underlying numbers still looked decent - just a bit of sloppiness from the second line in general that needs to be ironed out.
Tom Wilson Did a nice job getting to the front of the net for the tip on the first goal against Pittsburgh, a big goal that answered right back after the Pens took a 2-0 lead, and racked up some serious penalty-killing time this week - just under nine minutes between Wednesday and Saturday. Of course, on the flip side, he also racked up some serious penalty minutes against the Bruins, dropping the gloves with McQuaid and adding an interference penalty later in the game.
Daniel Winnik His integration into the lineup has been pretty seamless so far, as he's moved into a fourth-line role and (along with Beagle's return) helped it become one of the most impressive lines this week. No points in his first three games, but he had four shots on net and ended up with the team's best even-strength Corsi-for percentage at just a shade over 70%. That'll do.

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