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Capital Ups and Downs, Week 5: Home Cooking

Our weekly look at individual Caps’ ups and downs

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Our weekly look at individual Caps’ ups and downs:

Snapped a career-high pointless drought with an assist on the insurance tally against the Penguins... but that was his only point in this week’s games, and so we remain concerned about just what is going on with the usual point-per-game stalwart.

Almost made it a second-consecutive week without being on the ice for a single goal-against before being nicked by Edmonton’s lone tally Sunday night - an impressive stretch that included 11 penalties taken and killed by the team. Of course, he may have to chalk that up to his goalies being pretty good, as the ice was tilted in the wrong direction when Beagle was out there this week.

Miss u, Burky.

No points (again) for Chiasson, but there were only four players on the positive side of 50% CF at evens this week and he was one of them.

Missed the last seven games with his first concussion but returned in time for the win over Edmonton, a game in which he did... well, not much. But that’s to be expected in his first game back. Hopefully as he returns to full strength he’ll be able to start chipping in again.

In his first season with the Caps, Eller managed just three points through his first two months (20 games total); just halfway through November of this season he’s sitting at 11 points, adding another two assists to his total this week. If he keeps up this pace, he’ll top 50 points on the season... which, let’s be honest, is probably unlikely. But he is roughly a third of the way to his career-high 30 points with 64 games to go, and that’s not nothing.

Graovac was on the ice with a few of the other walking wounded last week, which is a good sign that he could be on his way back.

It’s easy enough to get frustrated at him for all the times he doesn’t shoot the puck, but it’s worth noting that Kuznetsov had at least three shot attempts in each of the four games this week, and led all forwards with three shots on goal against the Oilers. No goals to show for it, alas, but he did pick up a trio of assists to keep him tied with Ovechkin for the team’s scoring lead.

He came, he saw, he fought, he got his butt kicked and he was sent back to Hershey. Those last two things (probably) aren’t related, though.

Picked up a cool-looking, totally-on-purpose-and-not-at-all-accidental assist on the OT game-winner against the ‘Yotes, then snapped an eight-game goalless streak with a power-play marker against - who else? - the Penguins Friday night. And of course he came up big in the shootout against Edmonton, scoring the only goal of the gimmick frame to give the Caps the extra point. Perhaps that will be enough to kick-start his sluggish stats of late; over the last nine games, he has just three points.

Scored the team’s first five-on-four power play goal in nine games - from the Ovi spot, natch - to force overtime against the ‘Yotes, then scored the team’s only goal against the Sabres to remain hot hot hot.

Some may say that he’s not suited for top-line duty (ahem), but he’s settled into that role rather well of late, and added another goal and assist in four games this week. He’s not outperforming his linemates - in terms of points or possession - but he’s not dragging them down, either. Is he the long-term solution for that slot on the top line? Probably not, and once Andre Burakovsky returns the conversation changes, but he’s doing okay there. For now.

His goal against the Penguins gave the team a little breathing room en route to victory, but other than that it was a (relatively) quiet week for Stephenson (and the rest of his line, so it’s not entirely on him).

Continues to struggle with consistency, but when he breaks out the moves... man, it’s fun to watch. Just wish it would happen a little more often, and that the underlying numbers would start to show up on the scoresheet. But as noted last week, there are going to be some growing pains for Vrana’s first full season as an NHLer.

One game, 8:29 of ice time, not much else to write about here beyond continuing to be puzzled at the lineup choices being made when it comes to the team’s depth forwards.

Continues to pick up points, adding a beauty of an assist on Orlov’s goal Sunday night that was Backstrom-esque in its slickness. That’s the good side... the bad? Three fights in four games is three fights too many (and he probably could have had more against the ever-charming Ryan Reaves had cooler heads - and an awareness of the scoreboard - not prevailed). He’s shown that he can be trusted to kill penalties, and he’s starting to show that he can contribute offensively - now he needs to show that he can keep the gloves on and not go after every challenger.

Missed the team’s lone loss of the week with a mysterious lower-body injury he incurred against the Coyotes,but thankfully whatever it was that was ailing him cleared up pretty quickly. He registered another assist - his fifth of the season - against the Oilers and continues to look more and more comfortable on the NHL ice as he gains more experience.

He’s had to shoulder a hefty load for the Caps since Niskanen’s injury, and it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but this week Carlson performed about as well as one could expect. Not only did he lead the team in scoring, with a two-goal, four-point week (including the game-winning OT goal against the Coyotes), but he also put up the second-best CF% at even strength among Caps’ defensemen while leading the team in even-strength ice time.

Not the worst of weeks for Chorney, who finished about middle of the pack among the Caps in CF and was on the ice for just two goals at even strength - both scored by Caps (and one of which he assisted on). That’ll do.

That early scoring burst from Djoos has seemingly dried up, as he’s now gone nine games without a point. Thankfully the rest of his blueline chums have picked up the slack a bit - and it’s not like Djoos hasn’t been active offensively, even if the puck isn’t finding the back of the net at the moment.

It took him 18 games, but Orlov finally picked up his first goal of the season - and it came at the best possible time, helping the Caps to salvage at least a point in a game they probably deserved to lose. He’s been putting up the underlying numbers all season; nice to see them finally come to the surface, if only once.

Was on for at least one goal against in three of the four this week, the lone exception being the Penguins game - a game in which he actually performed quite well overall, teaming up with Carlson to shut down Sidney Crosby and friends. That game was the exception, though, as Orpik continues to show that he’s really better off in a reduced role. In other words... hurry back, Matt Niskanen.

Just became the second-fastest goalie to win 200 games in NHL history, no biggie.

He was stellar against the Sabres; the team in front of him, not so much. And so Grubauer continues to wait for his first win of the season - which seems to be taking its toll on him, to say the least:

Grubauer has deserved better outcomes than he’s gotten in just about every game, and the coaching staff has done him no favors with the workload they’ve given him. Perhaps with the roster changes and the team’s position in the standings, they no longer have the luxury of throwing him a better start now and then... but it might be nice if they tried, before the Caps have another pissed off goalie to contend with.

The Caps were only narrowly outscored at evens this week, 7-5, but continued to struggle when it came to generating shot attempts and controlling the play (and really owe a huge debt of gratitude to their stalwart goalie for getting them three wins). They were out-attempted 178-154 (46.4%) over that span, which put them in the bottom five for the week and kept them there for the season. Of course, the “good” news (such as it is) is that the bulk of that damage came against the Oilers; in two of the week’s three games, the Caps actually held the edge in shot attempts and were just below even against the Sabres. So... that’s something.

So far this year the power play has shown itself to be streaky and inconsistent, but this was a good week for the team’s extra-man squad. They kicked the week off on a good foot by finally snapping a nine-game five-on-four goal drought against Arizona thanks to Ovechkin being Ovechkin, then added two more against the Penguins en route to a 4-1 victory. Three goals on 16 chances is good, not great, especially for a team that should be much scarier on the power play, but after the horrific run that preceded it... we’ll give it the green arrow.

The Caps were shorthanded 11 times over this week’s four games, which is not that bad all things considered. Even better is the fact that they killed all 11 of them off, including all four minors taken against one of the best power-play teams on the circuit.

Stats via Corsica, Natural Stat Trick, HockeyViz and