Photo credit: Alex Brandon
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 Friday, Orlov had the team’s best possession numbers. Sunday against the Flyers, Orlov did it again, but this time also played a crucial role in a huge Caps comeback from down three goals.
In the third period, Orlov skated 7:15, the second most among Caps defensemen. During that frame, he also scored the Caps third goal of the game — off the face-off — which brought them to within one of the Flyers.
GIF by welshhockeyfan
In total, Orlov had three shots on goal and a hit. But to really appreciate his game, you need look at the possession numbers again. Orlov tilted the ice better than any other Cap when he was deployed, on the ice for 19 even strength shots for and 7 against.
When asked about Dima’s play by reporters, Oates replied that he “thought the second half of the game he played very well,” which is a pretty lukewarm response.
“I’ve seen the offensive plays; I’ve seen the shot,” Oates reiterated. “The more he plays correct in our end, the more he’ll become a regular player. He’s got the ability to become a real good hockey player and we want consistency in our end.”
I don’t understand these weird responses from Oates, especially considering the myriad of struggles other Caps have had in their own end this year. The tough love is working I guess. Orlov’s dominating in possession, scoring goals, and playing the best hockey of his career.
I’ll take it.
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