Dmitry Orlov has missed the Washington Capitals’ last two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers due to a lower-body injury. The good news for the Caps is that it appears he may only miss those two games.
The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir reports that the Russian defenseman was on the ice at the team’s optional practice at the Bell Centre, Friday. Head coach Peter Laviolette later indicated that could mean Orlov will reenter his lineup against the Montreal Canadiens.
“I’m not sure if he made it onto the ice or not. I haven’t talked to Jason Serbus but we have a skate here today,” Laviolette said before the skate. “I know he was looking to possibly go out so I’ll get an update from Serbs when the day is over here today. It was an optional skate but if he’s good to go, he’d be out there. I think he’s close to that. I don’t have the answers for that right now. You can get it from our guys if he skated today. Obviously, that’s the first step in the right direction.”
Without Orlov, the Caps have gone to Trevor van Riemsdyk on the shutdown second pairing with Nick Jensen. The newly matched defensemen struggled against the Maple Leafs as they drew a good portion of their five-on-five minutes against Auston Matthews’ line. The team held a minus-12 shot attempt differential and a minus-5 scoring chance differential with Jensen on the ice five-on-five.
“He’s been really good. That’s one of the top defensive pairs in the league,” Laviolette said of Orlov’s play this season. “They take on a lot of challenges every night. Tough zone starts, big opponents. I think Dmitry has done a really good job. Their plus-minus has been excellent handling those lines. They’re both down the road of career years offensively. We value them equally as much defensively and what they do together. It’s been a rock-solid pair from the start of the year. When he’s not in a game like last night, you miss him. We’ve got guys coming into the lineup or the defensemen that were in the lineup can help out, but when you start removing pieces like Dmitry, you’re going to notice that he’s not there.”
Even with the tough assignments that they receive every game when paired together, the Orlov-Jensen duo has come out with rather good five-on-five analytics. They hold a 57.7-percent shot attempt percentage, a 52.8-percent expected goals-for percentage, a 51.1-percent scoring chance for percentage, and a 50.3-percent high danger chance for percentage in over 818 minutes played.
If Orlov is truly ready to go against the Habs it will likely make Matt Irwin a healthy scratch again. The Capitals and Canadiens play on Saturday night at 7 pm.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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