After missing the entire 2014-15 season recovering from injury, Dmitry Orlov returned to the ice to start this season as a regular contributor on the Caps. He played all 82 regular-season games; produced highlights and lowlights; and he scored a rather strange goal where he seemingly was the only player on the ice to know that he had the puck.
This season was much more eventful than last for Orly.
|16.0||time on ice per game|
|54.2||5v5 shot-attempt percentage|
|56.1||5v5 goal percentage|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows various metrics for the player over the course of the 2015-16 season. A short description of each chart:
Here are a few facts about Dmitry Orlov’s season:
He was tied for the team lead in goals by a defenseman at even strength.
Orlov enjoyed an offensively dynamic season. He really began to shine offensively this year, and at times looked like the most explosive offensive option from the backend.
Orlov led the Capitals defenders in possession percentage.
Orly’s shot differential was as much about limiting shot attempts defensively as it was about creating them offensively. His CA/60 was the best on the defensive corps. While a lot of that is explained by his ability to possess the puck in the offensive zone more often than the defensive zone, some of that can be explained by usage…
Dmitry Orlov started in the offensive zone 40 percent of the time.
Orlov was the most sheltered defenseman on the Caps. In addition to zone starts, Orlov played against weak competition (lowest average CF percentage for his on-ice competition). He also saw a minuscule amount of PK time, only 11:21 (for comparison’s sake, Orlov saw 58 seconds more PK time than Mike Weber, but Weber played in only 10 games for the Caps).
Why did Barry Trotz not trust Orly defensively? Pizza and donuts. We will start with the pizza.
Orlov plays a risky game. He is willing to attempt things that other Capitals defenders are not. A lot of times they lead to good things, sometimes they do not. Ill-advised rushes, overly-ambitious exit passes, and poorly-timed pinches are a few of the toppings that Orlov likes to serve up on his pizzas.
Trotz likes the simple play. The risky play of Orlov makes him more dynamic and can lead to offensive output, but one turnover can lead to one goal against and those can be back-breakers. Orlov was second on the defense in giveaways, though he also led in takeaways, which is just another example of his high-risk high-reward style.
Unfortunately the Caps don’t play that way in the defensive zone. They protect the house. They allow outside possession to limit scoring chances. They stay in position to block passes and shots. Orlov liked to wander a bit more. He certainly forced more turnovers while wandering, but he also was out of position at times leading to scoring chances against, which brings me to the donuts.
Dmitry Orlov did not block shots. He averaged 3.07 blocked shots per 60 minutes, which is less than half as much as the two team leaders, Brooks Orpik and Karl Alzner (7.85 and 6.33 respectively). Before people try to argue that he blocks less shots because he allows less shot attempts, remember that Orpik played a high percentage of his icetime this year with Orlov and he was able to block shots at over twice the rate.
If that isn’t enough, let’s look at blocked shot rates. As a percentage of shot attempts, Orlov had the lowest on ice block percentage on the team at only 24 percent. The rest of the defense hovered around 28 percent, except Chorney who was paired with Orlov a lot and had a low individual rate as well. Orlov’s numbers had been much lower than that until being paired with Orpik late in the year. With Chorney as his partner, 21.2 percent of shot attempts were blocked. With Schmidt, only 20.8 percent were blocked. Orlov was an anchor to anyone he was paired with in respect to blocked shot rate (Chorney and Schmidt away from Orlov are much higher).
He unfortunately wasn’t forcing missed shots either. When factoring in missed shots as well, Orlov still ranks dead last. 46.29 percent of shot attempts were either blocked or missed the net when Orlov was on the ice. Most of the team sat around 50 percent. As seen with just blocks, he struggled more with Chorney and Schmidt (45 percent and 43.5 percent respectively) than he did with Orpik (47.8 percent).
Now for some video evidence:
During Game Six, Orlov was pressed into PK duties with an injured Karl Alzner and a penalty by Brooks Orpik. As mentioned earlier, he didn’t get much time on the PK this year. In the above play, in the Caps PK system he needs to come out like he does, but in the shooting lane. He is setup so far inside he can’t block the shot or limit Hagelin’s chance at getting a stick on it (he does).
Whether it is poor positioning, a lack of patience, or fear of re-injury, Orlov does not block a lot of shots. Unfortunately for him, a combination of turnovers and not blocking shots is the ticket to not playing in defensive situations under Trotz. Orlov has all the ingredients to be one of the better Capitals defenders at both ends of the rink. All he has to do is work on his menu.
How will Orlov’s assignments change next season? What will change first: Orlov’s style or the expectations foisted on him?
Read more: Japers’ Rink
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