Photo: Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

After missing 40 games with a lower body injury, 35-year-old Brooks Orpik returned to the Capitals line-up in mid-February. In his return, Orpik had a new defense partner in Dmitry Orlov.

The pairing was fascinating, at least for me, because it combined the Caps’ strongest and weakest defensemen, according to possession. Orpik and Orlov had rarely been a tandem before, with Orpik spending most of his Caps career beside John Carlson (currently injured) while Orlov had mostly been with his right-hand man Nate Schmidt.

Orlov’s and Orpik’s styles could not be more different. They’re defensemen from different eras, informed by different philosophies. Orpik is a physical player expected to clear the crease and limit opponent shot quality. Orlov, meanwhile, endeavors to move the puck out of the defensive zone quickly.

“Everybody’s changed a little bit right now,” Orlov told me after a recent Caps practice. “Everybody’s trying to do fast game and everything should be made fast. Make fast plays and, for sure, skating is a big part of this game right now and everyone should be a good skater.”

Orlov’s goal is to start an attack and generate shots in the offensive zone. There the 24-year-old Russian can be a game-breaker with his dangling ability and cannon of a shot from the blue line. His game is fast, fast, fast.

But Brooks Orpik is old school: the late 90’s definition of a shutdown defenseman. Like Scott Stevens before him, Orpik looks to rail players and inflict a physical toll on them in the defensive zone. The former Stanley Cup champion can be a steadying influence for a younger defenseman with limited minutes, but his best skating days are behind him. Orpik wants to slow the game down and play a war of attrition.

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Wednesday morning, Team Russia announced the first 16 players on its World Cup of Hockey roster. Among those first 16 were three Capitals players: Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov.

This is the first World Cup of Hockey in 12 years. The last WCH was in 2004 and was won by Canada. Unlike the IIHF World Championships, the World Cup of Hockey is organized by the NHL, with NHL rules, and is timed to not overlap with the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov scoarlov’d in dramatic fashion Friday, dangling past Nino Niederreiter before trickling a backhand past Darcy Kuemper. It was his seventh goal of the season and would stand up as the game-winning goal.

You gotta see this.

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Caps fans have always marveled at Dmitry Orlov‘s offensive ability, but the dude can absolutely wreck people too.

The latest example was Orly’s first period hip check of Anders Lee.

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Nate Schmidt Still Has a Valentine’s Day Gift From His Ex


Photo: @SLuhman

Sunday was Valentine’s Day, the most romantic day of the calendar year. Ahead of the holiday, On Tap Magazine asked Capitals players the best gifts they ever received, advice on the best gifts to give, and their favorite Valentine’s Day memories in general.

Dmitry Orlov and Mike Richards recommended fans give flowers to their loved ones. Nate Schmidt talked about the favorite Valentine’s Day gift he ever received and I need to tell you about it.

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What Caps Players Did During the DC Blizzard


Photo: @Kuzya92

Over the last two days, the DC Blizzard dropped two feet of snow in the district and three feet in surrounding areas. The snow forced the cancellation of both Caps’ home games this weekend including tilts against the Ducks and Penguins. That leaves the Caps in a really weird stretch, where they’ll only play one game in 14 days.

Without hockey, the players spent time with their families and messing around on social media. I went ahead and documented it all.

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Photo: Rafael Suanes

For the past eight games, the Caps have been without blue-line regulars Brooks Orpik (who has missed the past 28 games) and John Carlson. While there’s some gray area as to whether this duo was being used as the team’s first or second defensive pair when both were healthy this season, they were unquestionably a heavily relied upon top-four pairing.

Since Carlson and Orpik have both been out, Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt have been reunited as defensive partners on the Caps second pairing. This duo was fantastic for the team as the third pairing before Orpik got injured. While Schmidt has been playing in the top-four since Orpik went down, this is Orlov’s first time in the top-four this season and the first chance this duo has had to prove whether they can thrive in a larger role.

While small sample size warnings apply (eight games), so far the pairing has shown they are more than capable of not only handling, but also excelling in, a top-four role.

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Big bopper Dmitry Orlov just lit up a Sabre at the blue line in his first shift. It was like two beefy cows running into each other with skates on.

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Here’s How the Capitals Spent Their Christmas Break


Photo: @jc7474

The Washington Capitals have been on Christmas Break ever since Monday’s thrilling 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

So what has everyone been up to? I’m glad you asked.

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Caps Russians Catch Up With Old Friends in Canada


Photo: @AbateMarcello

The Capitals arrived in Montreal last night ahead of their game tonight against the Canadians. So what did the Caps Russians do? I’m glad you asked.

Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, and Stan Galiev had dinner with former Capital/forever-Habs-scratch Alex Semin. We know this because Ristorante Bis owner Marcello Abate published a photo of the group together on Twitter.

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