If you’ve been watching Dmitry Orlov play as long as I have, you’d know that his previous stints with the Washington Capitals have only shown bits and pieces of who he could be as a player. Dima’s 60-game audition with the Caps in 2010-11 was okay. He scored three goals and tallied 19 points, but played a timid, defense-first game under Dale Hunter.
In 2011-12, Orlov suffered two gnarly concussions and was never the same that season.
But in 2012-13, after working his butt off with Semyon Varlamov over the summer in Amish country, Orlov has finally put it all together. Despite not making the team out of training camp, Dima forced multiple call-ups after leading the Bears in points. Now that he’s finally playing in Washington, Orlov is showing off both sides of his game, which should (hopefully) make him a regular for the rest of the season.
On Thursday, when word surfaced that Washington Capitals defenseman John Erskinewas close to returning to game action, we all wondered what George McPhee would do to get Big John back on the roster. Would McPhee put favorite of the coaching staff, Alexander Urbom, on waivers? Would he send down he-of-unlimited-options, Nate Schmidt? Or would GMGM send Dmitry Orlov back to Hershey for a seventh time?
Against the Florida Panthers Friday night, Orlov tried to make the decision easy for the team’s management, playing perhaps the best game of his career. Orlov skated 20:04 overall and 2:42 in overtime, the most of any Caps defenseman in the frame. Oates also rewarded Orlov during the shootout, giving him an attempt in round eight.
For Dmitry Orlov, an off-day means the opposite. On Wednesday, the Washington Capitals defenseman did some more driving, but (thankfully) not up Route 15 to Hershey. Instead he went to The Gardens Ice House in Laurel to practice with the Tri-City Eagles. The Eagles’ mite squad is a co-ed youth hockey team consisting of 30 or so adorable children. The surprise visit thrilled them.
By our math, today marks Dmitry Orlov‘s 30th day on the Washington Capitals’ active roster. For the first two months of the season, Orlov had been wearing out a groove between DC and Hershey, recalled and re-assigned six times without playing a single NHL game. The reason for all those two-and-a-half hour trips was a mystery until The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera reported that Orlov’s contract contained an escape clause: if he didn’t spend one month in the NHL by January 1st, Orlov could have walked.
On November 30, 2013, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Ballgame. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
Like the Bond marathon on SyFy over the last few days, the Washington Capitals are a fickle thing. Lately, the Caps have mixed the sublime elegance of the Sean Connery era with the confusing stupor of the Timothy Dalton movies. More often than not, it’s been the latter.
Plainly, they didn’t deserve to win yesterday’s game. Only the godlike brilliance of Eric Fehr kept the Caps from a fifth straight loss. They did win, however, and got their tired asses on a plane to hell Long Island this morning. With Braden Holtby making his second start in as many days, the setup for this one didn’t look good.
Washington’s start, however, was better than we’ve come to expect. Though New York handily outshot them early, the Caps controlled possession. The teams traded chances, with no one converting. Hey, that’s better than being 3-0 after 20!
As usual, the Caps got it going in the second. The period was filling with odd-man breaks and open looks for Washington, with the fourth line converting midway through the frame. Martin Erat – yes, that one — made a nice play behind the net before setting up the puck for Tom Wilson, who fired it on net. Aaron Volpatti did the net crashing thing to put the Caps on the board.
In the third, though, the Isles got the goal back — and they did on a Caps power play. Four minutes into the period, local pariah Mike Green missed a pinch and CalClutterbuck took the puck the other way on a breakaway. Yeah, it was awful. Then, Thomas Vanek gave the Isles the lead with some whacking in front, to Braden’s dismay. With less than two minutes left, this one looked over. HOWEVER… Nicklas Backstrom was stone cold clutch, converting in front with the Caps down a man. In overtime, the big Russian — that would be Alex Ovechkin — did his thing. Boom. Crazy times. Caps top Isles 3-2 (OT).
Instead of seeing Dima in another jersey, however, fans will get another chance to look at the 2009 second round pick play in Capitals colors tonight against the New York Islanders. After weeks of poor play, Alexander Urbom will be scratched and watch from the press box.
Suffice to say, Orlov was excited about his opportunity. After the morning skate, Dima did his first ever English interview in front of cameras.
Coming into training camp, Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov was looking forward to his third full season of hockey in North America. A couple of months into the season though, his hopes and expectations remain unfulfilled, as Orlov started the season in Hershey, then lost some time battling an eye infection, and then spent the rest of the time alternating between a healthy scratch with the Caps and an occasional game or two with the Bears. While there had been speculation regarding the reasons behind Dima’s numerous short-term assignments to Hershey followed by gameless call-ups to the Capitals, last night, The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera’s finally shone light on this mystery – a special clause in Orlov’s contract allows him to sign a deal in the KHL if he is not on NHL roster for at least 30 days this season by January 1st.
Just a couple of hours before the Capitals announced that Orlov was returned to Hershey for the fifth time this season, we caught up with Dima after the Caps’ morning practice and talked about the situation and how he is handling it.
The Washington Capitals have assigned defenseman Dmitry Orlov to the Hershey Bears. With the expected return of Mike Green to active service vs Montreal tonight, the Caps have apparently hit their quota on offensive-minded, left-handed defensemen without a goal to their name.
So ends Orlov’s second stint with the Capitals this season. Orlov was first called up on October 30 before getting re-assigned on November 13th. While on the ice, Orlov did not allow a single shot or goal against his team.
Orlov now returns to the Hershey Bears, where he has been averaging a point per game (2 goals, 6 assists in 8 games). The Bears will play the Binghamton Senators twice this weekend.
Orlov has not played with the Capitals since his 60-game stint in 2010-11, which ended in Dale Hunter’s dog house after a few too many rookie mistakes.
The Capitals also have recalled pest Michael Latta, who has also been dominant since getting sent down to Hershey, tallying four points in six games. He is the team’s second leading scorer. Latta also has shown off his physical side too, dropping the mitts once and breaking a pane of glass on a bodycheck.
According to Mike Vogel, General manager George McPhee must make a corresponding roster move/s to accommodate his new toys. What do you think it/they’ll be?
UPDATE IMMEDIATELY AFTER WE PUBLISHED:
#Caps have placed D John Erskine on LTIR, retroactive to Oct. 26. That leaves roster at 23 and team in compliance with salary cap.