Photo credit: Mitchell Layton
In Russia, they say the first crepe is always a clump. It describes the low expectations when something is attempted for the first time. The first NHL game for Dmitry Orlov, who debuted on the big scene Monday night against the Coyotes, was certainly not a clump – but it did turn out to be quite uneventful. His next game — a Thanksgiving Eve fixture against Southeast Division rival Winnipeg — was quite different. Dima’s name was in bold on the playing roster handout as one of the six Capitals’ starters. When the starting line-ups were introduced over the PA system, a loud cheer came from the crowd as the youngster was named one of the starting defensemen. Orlov was even featured on the jumbotron walking alongside his captain to the locker room. Expectations were certainly higher this time around.
Well, Dima certainly turned it up a notch or two for his second NHL game. Of course there were the obvious moments: his first NHL point – an assist on Nick Backstrom’s goal in the second period, a textbook-perfect hip-check on Blake Wheeler that sent the big Jets forward tumbling to the ice head-over-heels, and another thunderous collision with Evander Kane that launched his opponent’s stick into the stands. He even made an appearance on NHL Network. But as I talked to Dmitry in the Caps’ locker room immediately after the game, it quickly become apparent that helping his team win the game mattered much more to him than getting on the score sheet or landing a spectacular hit.