The Washington Capitals defense had a tough night in Raleigh. John Carlson committed a costly turnover early, Brooks Orpik boarded a Canes player, Christian Djoos got buried in the possession contest, and Madison Bowey made some big mistakes. Dmitry Orlov wasn’t an exception in the goof-up game, but he made up for it with a tremendous individual effort to score a big goal in the second period.
The goal is an encapsulation of everything Orlov has done lately to improve his contribution to the offense.
Just before the game’s halfway mark, Orlov blocks a shot by Sebastian Aho. Orlov gets the puck from Aho a half minute later, then carries through neutral and into the Carolina zone. Fifteen feet past the blue line, Orlov sends a wristshot towards the net. Cam Ward makes the save, but the rebound is too much for him. Orlov skates 31 feet in a second to get touch of the bouncing puck.
Voilà: Orlov’s fifth goal of the season. Taylor Chorney got the assist, but this was Orlov’s play from beginning to end.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 3, 2018
Orlov is now one goal shy of last season’s goal count – with 41 games left to play. Once a player for whom goals were a rare side effect, Orlov has begun to establish himself as an offensive force. His shot rate has jumped up 30 percent from his early days, bringing him into a more fearsome tier of offensive defensemen.
(Note: Brent Burns is off the chart, literally. He’s north of twenty per hour.)
With more ice time and better looks during that time – like the solo effort above – Orlov has given the Caps a more layered attack, with meaningful contributions from defense.
Headline photo: Gregg Forwerck
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