Photo: Patrick Smith
Wednesday morning, Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner was asked about the defensive pairing of Nate Schmidt and Dmitry Orlov. They were both set to make their NHL playoff debuts in Game One of the first round against the Philadelphia Flyers. He paused halfway through his answer.
“You know, I’m just thinking, laughing in my head about Schmitty,” Alzner said. “He’s always so excited for a regular season game, I can’t imagine what he’s gonna be like for a playoff game. It’ll be fun.”
The Capitals gave up one goal Monday night in their 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The victory clinched the President’s Trophy, but Barry Trotz wasn’t happy. He wanted a shutout.
“What I liked about us is that we didn’t give [the Blue Jackets] much,” Trotz said. “Their goal, I thought this could have have been a team shutout. I didn’t think Holts was worked too hard.”
Trotz was referring to Cam Atkinson’s 27th goal of the season that came late in the first period. The Blue Jackets forward scored after Dmitry Orlov turned the puck over in the defensive zone.
Photo: Rob Carr
Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov has been nominated for the 2016 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Nominees are voted upon by the team’s local chapter of the PHWA. Per NHL.com, Masterton Trophy nominees should epitomize “perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”
Orlov is a fitting nominee. This season marks his return to the NHL as a core part of the Caps’ defense. Under Adam Oates, Orlov was not afforded a chance to become a top-four defenseman; in 2013-14 he bounced between a limited role in the NHL and the AHL If that season was a disappointment, Orlov’s 2014-15 season (or lack thereof) was disastrous — or “forgettable,” in Orlov’s own words.
Saturday night, the Washington Capitals got shut out by the Blues 4-0. St. Louis’ first goal, by Kyle Brodziak, started with a turnover behind the net by Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov.
CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Alan May, a veteran of 393 NHL games and 17 professional seasons of hockey, broke down the play and showed how Orlov can learn from veteran Brooks Orpik. This is brilliant stuff (and no, he didn’t pay me to write that, though he probably should, considering how mean he is to me online).
24-year-old Dmitry Orlov just scored one of the biggest goals of his young career and it was nasty. I’m glad kids are in bed because I uttered some terrible, awful, happy things at my TV after Orly dented the twine. It was just one of those goals.
Saturday night in Boston, Dmitry Orlov welcomed recent call-up Noel Acciari to the NHL. Late in the third period, the 24-year-old Bruins forward tried to dump the puck into the Capitals zone and skate by Orlov. Orly had other plans however, stepping up and leveling Acciari.
The poor linesman, who was perched on top of the dasher boards, got deposited into the Caps bench and a player’s lap. Though I’m guessing there are worse things.
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.
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.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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