Only a few hours remain until the puck drops for the Capitals’ first game of the regular season. After their most recent second-round playoff exit, a summer of speculation ensued. The most nebulous question: How does this team
finally make a deep playoff run?
While there’s no definite answer, RMNB’s own Pat Holden, Elyse Bailey, Spenser Smallwood, and Chris Cerullo sought to answer a few questions I posed about the Caps’ chances at a Cup. See what they have to say, and, as always, feel free to argue with them in the comments.
Opening night is fast approaching and the Washington Capitals’ roster is taking shape, especially on the defensive end where there were no personnel changes during the offseason. However, it appears that a fairly significant change is coming to the back-end pairings. Dmitry Orlov will begin the season paired with John Carlson on the second unit while Nate Schmidt will start the season with Brooks Orpik. Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzer will remain together as the team’s shtudown pair.
Moving Orlov up in the pecking order to play with Carlson suggests that the the Caps are comfortable placing a greater deal of trust in him. Trust in a defenseman means putting him on the ice for big minutes and game-breaking situations, and believing that the good will outweigh the bad in both zones.
Let’s take a look at which of last year’s defensive pairs were the most utilized and trusted in terms of deployments, and how much that might have to change with Orlov no longer on the third pair.
Now that the Capitals have figured out their 2016-17 opening night roster, the team conducted their final photo shoots for the Caps Canine Calendar, Monday afternoon.
Caps stars Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Nicklas Backstrom dispersed across several different tourist attractions in Washington, D.C. — the Capitol building, the Supreme Court, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and the DC War Memorial respectively — to take some adorable shots with puppies.
The calendar, which goes on sale on November 18 and benefits Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, is being photographed by Taylor Winnik, the wife of fourth-line winger, Daniel Winnik.
Alex Ovechkin stepped onto the ice Wednesday afternoon, as usual, in a red sweater. But instead of saying Россия, his jersey said Washington Capitals. As the both captain of Team Russia and a nationalist, Ovechkin didn’t want to be in Arlington, Virginia, skating at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Instead, he wanted to be playing for a champion at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto along with Capitals teammates Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov.
But the Russians ran into Canada in the semifinals, resulting in another international defeat. Back with the Capitals, Ovechkin tried to move past the loss.
“You can talk about what if, what if,” he said. “It was fun. It was nice to represent my country out there and we do our best.”
After months of waiting, the Washington Capitals have re-signed restricted free agent Dmitry Orlov to one-year contract worth $2.57 million. With Washington’s training camp beginning on Friday, the need to finalize a deal was pressing, though Orlov is currently competing for Russia at the World Cup of Hockey. A source close to the negotiations told RMNB the deal was imminent shortly before the deal was announced by the team.
With Orlov’s salary on the books, the Capitals have less than a million dollars in cap room, according to GeneralFanager.com. Orlov, 25, played in all 82 games last season, posting impressive metrics, despite being stuck on the third pairing. He missed the entire previous season with a wrist injury suffered at the World Championships. Orlov’s minutes are expected to increase this year. In August, head coach Barry Trotz said he envisioned Orlov in a top-four role playing alongside Matt Niskanen or John Carlson.
Despite the regular season looming, Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov is still not re-signed. Alex Ovechkin spoke to CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Tarik El-Bashir about Orlov’s ongoing contract talks, stating, “I hope [Orlov’s] going to stay.”
On Sunday, Team Russia arrived at the Pittsburgh Penguins’ practice facility in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, to train for several days ahead of their game Thursday against Team Canada.
The bizarreness of the situation was not lost on Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov, whose Caps team was eliminated by rival Pittsburgh during the 2015-16 playoffs. While the teammates practiced, there was a giant Mario Lemieux banner hanging at the south end of the rink. According to CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Tarik El-Bashir, Ovechkin’s temporary locker was placed right beside where Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby normally dresses too.
Thursday, Team Russia hosted the Czech Republic at St. Petersberg’s Yubileyny Arena. It was the first time the Caps troika of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov had played an organized game since winning a bronze medal in the 2016 World Championship on May 22.
After falling behind early, Russia took a commanding lead before needing a ridiculous split save from Sergei Bobrovski in the final minute to hold onto the 4-3 win. Dmitry Orlov tallied a secondary assist while Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov went scoreless.
Last week, Barry Trotz said he envisions Dmitry Orlov playing in the Caps’ top four this season, paired with either Matt Niskanen or John Carlson. If Orlov were to be deployed as a top-four defender, it would have a ripple effect on the rest of the defense. For one, Brooks Orpik would likely be playing on the third pairing. It could also mean a reunion of Carlson and Karl Alzner, a pairing we’ve seen much less of since Niskanen and Orpik came to town.
But the part of this possible deployment I’d be most interested in seeing is Orlov paired with Niskanen. Doing this would not only mean more minutes for Orlov, who drove shot attempt differentials better than any other defender on the team last season, but it would mean minutes with a player whose steady defensive style could be a great compliment to Orlov’s high-risk, high-reward style.
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