Photo: Amanda Bowen
There didn’t seem to be a lot of anxiety surrounding Dmitry Orlov being penciled in on the Caps third defensive pair entering this season. After all, what could go wrong with a guy who only had 119 NHL games under his belt and had just missed an entire season due to injury? But so far, so good for the Caps Russian defender. Actually, so far, so great. Orlov has been great on the Caps third pair, tilting the ice at an elite level.
Orlov has always been a good possession player for the Caps, but he’d also often benefited from playing alongside noted possession freak Mike Green. During Orlov’s last healthy season, 2013-14, he had a 51.0 percent shot attempt percentage in 962 5v5 minutes. However, in the 439 of those minutes that were away from Green, Orlov had only a 45.1 percent shot attempt percentage. That’s the difference between a solid player and an absolute liability. So, with Green gone, maybe some concern about Orlov would have been warranted.
Through 11 games, Orlov hasn’t shown up on the score sheet too much, with just three assists to his name, but the Caps have positively owned the puck when he’s been on the ice.
Via Emmanuel Perry’s line combinations site, 105 defensive pairings have skated 50-plus minutes so far this season. Orlov is involved in two of these pairings, one with Nate Schmidt and one with Theo (?) Chorney. Of the 105 pairings, the Orlov-Schmidt pairing ranks first in shot attempts percentage and the Orlov-Chorney pairing ranks sixth. Here’s a look for yourself, courtesy of Emmanuel’s site.
Orlov and Schmidt are tilting the ice more than any other defensive pair in the league. While the third pair has great possession numbers when Chorney is on the ice, maybe it’s time to leave the third pairing alone and let Orlov continue to work his possession magic with Nate Schmidt as his partner.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.