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Capital Ups and Downs, Week 6: Central Casting

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Our weekly look at individual Caps’ ups and downs

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Our weekly look at individual Caps’ ups and downs:

Topped his one-assist week last week with two helpers this week, and added a cavalcade of oh-so-close chances against the Wild Saturday night - all of which seemed to suggest that this rough patch is just about over for the Swede. And thank god.

No points again this week for Beagle, and he finished the week with the, second lowest CF% at even strength (38.3%) - making him one of just 4 players (and one of just two forwards, along with Walker who played in only one game), to be below 50% in that department. Even faceoffs were down a bit, as he won “just” 52.6% of the draws he took in his three games.

If the original timetable of 6-8 weeks holds up, we’re just about at the halfway mark of life without Burakovsky.

Scored his second goal of the campaign - and on his only shot to hit the net this week, which is just darned efficient. Other than that, not much on either side of the ledger to talk about with Chiasson, as it was a quiet week for him and his linemates... although those two minor penalties were neither quiet nor good.

After a quiet return against Edmonton, Connolly was part of two attempted (but eventually quashed) comebacks this week when he picked up an assist on Chiasson’s goal in Nashville, then followed it up with a goal of his own in Colorado. If the Caps can get Connolly and some of the other secondary (tertiary?) scoring going, they’ll be much better off - so this is a pretty good start.

Had a rare week without a point, but continued to put up those strong possession numbers we’ve become accustomed to seeing from Eller. His stellar 70.49 CF% at even strength was the second-best on the team, although when it came to high-danger attempts, he was just about even - which probably isn’t ideal, and was a big reason why he had a front-row seat to a trio of Avalanche goals Thursday night.

The healing continues, as Graovac now makes his way to Hershey on a long-term conditioning stint.

Kuznetsov definitely seems to have regained his scoring touch from earlier this season, and put up two goals and two assists on the week - as well as 11 shots on goal. Of course, all four of his points on the week were scored on the power play, which is good for the power play but not so good when you’re thinking sustainable offense.

Scoring slump, be gone! Oshie was easily one of the best players for the Caps this week (although to be fair, that’s not the highest bar to clear given the two blowout losses) - his three goals and five points led the team and put him in the League’s top-ten scorers over that span.

Just the one assist for the captain over the last three games - although his lack of offense wasn’t due to a lack of effort, as he peppered opposing goalies with 16 shots and missed with another seven. Rough end to an otherwise (relatively) quiet week, though, as he took a puck to the mouth in Saturday’s win over the Wild. All appears to be well and all remaining teeth accounted for, so... that’s good.

Quiet, nondescript week for Smith-Pelly, with no points and an even-strength CF right at 50%. That’s perfectly acceptable for most players, but probably not what you’re looking for from a top-line guy.

Added another assist to his resume, giving him six points in 12 games so far this season, and got to take the first penalty shot of his career Saturday night (which he missed, but it was a very respectable effort). While he picked up the fourth-best CF at even strength, however, it would be nice to see him shoot the puck a bit more - he registered just two shots on net this week.

After skating a fairly uneventful 13:15 against the Predators, Trotz had Vrana take a seat in the penalty box for being in what he called “participation mode”. He made his return to the lineup two nights after the fiasco in Colorado for an even more uneventful - and shorter - stint against Minnesota. It’ll be interesting to see how the coaching staff handles the kid going forward, because at this point the team really needs to get more out of him than he’s shown so far.

In his limited ice time so far this season, Walker has, if nothing else, been fairly consistently good at out-attempting his opponents. That wasn’t the case in this week’s token Walker appearance, as he saw 10 shot attempts go towards his own net compared to four the other way in just over eight minutes of even-strength time. And... that’s all she wrote.

Still seems to be finding his legs a bit at the NHL level, although he’s much improved over his first few games (as is to be expected). He averaged about two shots on goal per game, but also was on the wrong side of 50% in shot attempts at evens and only Orpik had a worse CF% among Caps’ blueliners.

His average ice time dropped to “just” 25:04 this week with the return of Niskanen, but he didn’t miss a step when it came to his red-hot point production, as he picked up another four assists (three of them on the power play). That said, he got absolutely run around against Nashville, and was on the ice for 27 scoring chances against at five on five - tied with Orpik for the most on the team.

Averaged about 14 minutes a night in his two games and was on for just two goals-against - both against Colorado.

Played just under six minutes against Nashville before leaving the game with an injury, and he’s been out since... because the hockey gods are mean like that.

Only Alex Ovechkin fired more shots towards the net than Niskanen this week, as the returning blueliner racked up 20 shot attempts - all at even strength, which led all Caps’ players. He also led all defensemen in even-strength CF with a robust 68.8%, and picked up an assist on the eventual game-winner against Minnesota. He did struggle in his own end a bit, though, as four goals were scored by opponents on his watch compared to just two for the good guys.

The floodgates appear to be open on Orlov’s scoring touch, as he picked up his second goal in his last four games with the eventual game-winner against the Wild. On top of that, no Capital was on the ice for more even-strength scoring chances or shot attempts - blocked, unblocked or on net - than Orlov. All in all, another pretty decent week for #9.

On the flip side... there’s Orpik, who (at least based on numbers) had another rough week. No one was on for more shot attempts against at even strength than Orpik, and he finished the three games with a team-low -4 rating.

A bit of an up-and-down week for Holtby, as he ceded six goals on 25 shots (and five on 21 shots at even strength) against the Predators before bouncing back with a much better showing against the Wild.

Was solid in relief of Holtby against the Predators, turning aside all six shots he faced, but then got lit up in his own right while facing the Avalanche two nights later... and he continues to search for his first win. Hard not to feel bad for the guy.

Good news, bad news time. Good news: the Caps out-attempted opponents at even strength this week, racking up a shot attempt differential in double digits in two of their three games. The bad? One of those two double-digit games was due in part to a third-period comeback attempt in Nashville after they already trailed by three goals. Worse? They were outscored 9-4 when playing five on five.

It’s alive... it’s ALIVE! The Caps kept clicking with the extra man this week, drawing 13 penalties and capitalizing on four of them - a healthy 30.8% over the three games.

While the power play was effective, it was somewhat undone by another rough week for the penalty kill, as the team went 11 for 15 (73.3%) shorthanded; of course, even worse is the fact that they took 15 penalties in three games in the first place, which was tied with Nashville for second-most on the week and trailed only Dallas’s 16 (in four games).

Stats via Corsica, Natural Stat Trick, HockeyViz and NHL.com